Friday, August 17, 2012

The Crisis - Complete - by Winston Churchill

Free US/UK Kindle Classic
This is not the first time I have featured the once popular, and now neglected, American author, Winston Churchill. (US Edition)  (UK Edition) "The Crisis - Complete" was published in 1901 and is set in pre-Civil War St. Louis.  That is the author's home town and the novel is known for its accurate portrayal of the town.

The first paragraph is awkward and may be corrupt, but I suggest reading past that - it is not representative of the whole book. 

This is not an easy book.  It is about slavery and Lincoln's election.  The language is uncomfortable  - as you might expect with an older novel on the Civil War.  The book also has some dialect, which I know turns some readers off.  In the first chapter, one of the characters expresses an interest in owning slaves some day.

You are going to think I am telling you not to read this book!  Not at all!.  Here is a book written within 50 years of the Civil War about a time not often touched on and a place that is rarely featured in novels.  I am just saying this is not a "beach read," but perhaps insight into an uncomfortable time.
Mr. Hopper was drinking his tea and silently forming an estimate. He concluded that young Brice was not the type to acquire the money which his father had lost. And he reflected that Stephen must feel as strange in St. Louis as a cod might amongst the cat-fish in the Mississippi. So the assistant manager of Carvel & Company resolved to indulge in the pleasure of patronizing the Bostonian.
"Callatin' to go to work?" he asked him, as the boarders walked into the best room.
"Yes," replied Stephen, taken aback. And it may be said here that, if Mr. Hopper underestimated him, certainly he underestimated Mr. Hopper.
(Sorry, not clue as to what "Callatin'" means -- feel free to speculate in the remarks below!)
Against the walls and pillars of the building, already grimy with soot, crouched a score of miserable human beings waiting to be sold at auction. Mr. Lynch's slave pen had been disgorged that morning. Old and young, husband and wife,—the moment was come for all and each. How hard the stones and what more pitiless than the gaze of their fellow-creatures in the crowd below! O friends, we who live in peace and plenty amongst our families, how little do we realize the terror and the misery and the dumb heart-aches of those days!
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