So – I’m a “when the mood strikes” sort of history fanatic. There are times I love it, and times it is perfect for an insomnia cure. This audiobook ticked all of the boxes for me in a listen that I adored. Separated into sections, we first meet and are given much background on Junius and Albert before they are captured by the Confederate soldiers. Here is where we are provided the information and background on these two men, working for the New York Tribune: readers learn of their intelligence and education, their background, and how they came to seek out a life of writing and reporting from the field. Far from feeling unnecessary, the information grounds them and brings the reality of their lives to the listener, a technique that is often missing in novels that are retelling of actual accounts.
Then we have their capture and imprisonment: gut-wrenching scenes of horrible conditions, behavior and attitudes abound as the two describe these ills, and others from some of the various prisons maintained by the Confederacy. While the perspectives of who was commenting to what was occasionally muddled, the impact of the words and scenes described are entrancing – even to those who have a more solid grounding in the history of the time. We then are treated to their escape as they travel northward away from the Confederate strongholds surviving on wits, cunning and graced by the kindness of strangers. At this point, the ‘buddy’ sense of their adventures becomes a strongly felt dynamic; these two have survived hell and come out with a determination to share the real story of the horrible conditions and treatment: not only of the slaves, but of the soldiers and others who existed in the areas determined to maintain the ‘southern way of life’.
Narration is provided by Danny Campbell, and his delivery and tone were just perfect for the story. Far from over-dramatizing and exaggerating the moments, he allowed the beauty and impact of the words stand for themselves which is both a unique and completely appropriate delivery style for this non-fiction retelling. Peter Carlson has spent exhaustive hours in research, which is apparent in the quality and completeness of the story of these two men and countless others who have been forgotten in the years since the end of the war. A book that is possibly too ‘fluffy’ for true historians, this is a great introduction to the Civil War, and entertaining enough for teen listeners, to encourage and perhaps engage their own interest in the history of this country. For everyone who listens, it is a true testament to the skills and determination so often lacking in today’s media; preferring the flash story and fluffy headline to real research, investigation and clever writing.
I received the AudioCD copy of this book from HighBridge Company via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Title: Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey
Author: Peter Carlson
Narrator: Danny Campbell
Format: Hardcover, eBook, AudioCD, AudioBook
Publisher: Public Affairs
Audio Producer: HighBridge Company
Length: 10 Hours: 13 minutes
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: History, Non-Fiction
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Purchase Now: Amazon § Audible § Barnes&Noble § BooksAMillion § HighBridge § IndieBound § Politics&Prose
About the Book:
Junius Browne and Albert Richardson covered the Civil War for the New York Tribune until Confederates captured them as they tried to sneak past Vicksburg on a hay barge. Shuffled from one Rebel prison to another, they escaped and trekked across the snow-covered Appalachians with the help of slaves and pro-Union bushwhackers. Their amazing, long-forgotten odyssey is one of the great escape stories in American history, packed with drama, courage, horrors and heroics, plus moments of antic comedy. On their long, strange adventure, Junius and Albert encountered an astonishing variety of American characters—Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, Rebel con men and Union spies, a Confederate pirate-turned-playwright, a sadistic hangman nicknamed “the Anti-Christ,” a secret society called the Heroes of America, a Union guerrilla convinced that God protected him from Confederate bullets, and a mysterious teenage girl who rode to their rescue at just the right moment.
About the Author:
Peter Carlson, author of the critically acclaimed K Blows Top, has, in Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy, written a gripping story about the lifesaving power of friendship and a surreal voyage through the bloody battlefields, dark prisons, and cold mountains of the Civil War. For 22 years, he was a reporter and columnist for the Washington Post and is now a columnist at American History magazine. He has also written for Smithsonian, Life, People, Newsweek, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. He lives in Rockville, MD.