ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A word from the author:
I grew up in the small picturesque town of Woodbury, Connecticut. After graduating from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I returned to Connecticut and found employment in manufacturing. “Just a job” turned into a professional career, much of which was spent working for a Swiss machine tool company. In 2000 I started my own business to provide services to manufacturing clients across the USA. This change also allowed time to develop my writing craft.
From youth I’ve been a serious student of the Civil War. The draft of An Eye for Glory took ten years from conception to completion. Thousands of hours were spent researching every detail through copious reading, Internet research and personal visits to each battlefield so the novel might be as historically accurate and believable as possible. I live in Naugatuck, Connecticut with my wife of thirty-three years, Jackie.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Michael's only desire is to kill as many Confederate soldiers as he can so he can go home. He coldly counts off the rebels that fall to his bullets. Until he is brought up short by a dying man holding up his Bible. It's in the heat of battle at Gettysburg and the solemn aftermath that Michael begins to understand the grave cost of the war upon his soul. Here the journey really begins as he searches for the man he was and the faith he once held so dearly. With the help of his beloved wife, Jesse Ann, he takes the final steps towards redemption and reconciliation.
Using first-hand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry, Karl Bacon has crafted a detailed, genuine and compelling novel on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Intensely personal and accurate to the times, culture, and tragedy of the Civil War, An Eye for Glory may change you in ways you could have never imagined as well.
If you would like to read the first chapter of An Eye For Glory, go HERE.
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I was pleased to see this new novel offered for review since I've seen little Civil War fiction offered in the Christian market, and I've always enjoyed reading about the Civil War. A longtime fan of Michael and Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels, I was eager to get my hands on this offering from Zondervan, and I wasn't disappointed. Karl Bacon spent ten years researching and writing this novel, and it shows. From Antietam to Gettysburg to Cold Harbor, I enjoyed experiencing the war and its grim realities through the eyes of soldier Michael Palmer, with everything described in meticulously researched detail (from the endless diet of crackers and salt pork to the faulty ammunition needed for a public execution).
Torn between doing his duty and succumbing to the lure of vengeful killing, Palmer is a sympathetic character who loves his God and his family. He knows he is doing the right thing to enlist, but what he is unprepared for (as most of us would be) is the reality of killing or being killed. One by one his friends fall victim to the grim war, and as soldiers die around him (often in grisly detail though never over the top) Palmer finds himself being promoted in rank, more because of his longevity and age than for any other reason. He thinks of his dear wife endlessly and writes her letters before each battle, anticipating that he will be next to perish. Ultimately, of course, he survives the war but as a broken shell of a man, who no longer cares whether he lives or dies and teeters on the edge of disillusioned faith. He goes on a mission to return a Bible to the wife of a man, a fellow believer, he killed at Gettysburg in a moment of rash vengeance. Her godly (though somewhat predictable) response and this redemptive act represent healing in Palmer's life in spite of past scars, from which he will never be truly free this side of heaven. In that sense the novel succeeds to end on a high note, which is just what the doctor ordered after readers have followed Palmer on this long, dark, and often grisly journey.
Though the novel is rich in history, it succeeds more as a commentary on the dilemma any believer would face when determined to serve one's country and fight in a war. The ethical questions Bacon raises are worth pondering and will stay with me long after I finished this novel. (The questions are relevant considering how many of us are touched by loved ones who continue to fight in Afghanistan and other places.) Though I've read plenty of Civil War fiction, this novel gave me a more realistic picture of war's realities and the grim conditions of those fighting in one. If not for Palmer's sustaining faith, the novel would have been oppressive and bleak indeed. But even as a broken, disillusioned man, he ultimately finds his hope in Christ. In that regard, I was truly impressed with this novel: it stayed true to the gospel and didn't shy away from the power of Scripture. The message came through clearly: though there are no easy answers to the horrors of war, we serve a God who is above it all and will sustain His children.
My only quibbles with this novel would fall into the realm of style and characterization. Though Palmer is a well-chosen hero, he ultimately fails to provide the complex layers of characterization one anticipates to make him a truly memorable character. At times the first-person viewpoint, though often effective, contributes to many pages of telling the reader facts and details with little reflection or emotion from Palmer. For example, when an execution fails to commence as ordered and Palmer is practically accused of providing less-than-desirable ammunition, he reveals little emotion. I personally would have preferred more time "in his skin": seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting his experiences on a deeper level. Sometimes I could almost smell the gunpowder, but at other times Palmer seemed distant. Yet as a first novel, this is still an impressive work.
Bacon is to be commended on many levels for this outstanding labor of love. He does justice to the many hundreds of thousands who perished in this struggle of brother against brother, and the novel is a marvelous tribute to the fallen as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This is a highly recommended novel, especially for those who seek a realistic taste of the Civil War without wading through strong language and other objectionable content in comparable novels. The message of hope shines through. This novel is a keeper I plan to pass along to family and friends. Great job, Karl!