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Grimm, Top 10

Top 10: civil wars and revolutions

24.08.09 | Comment?

Civil wars are rich material for fiction (conflict, critical choices, tales of transformation and beating the odds etc) and unsurprisingly there’s a lot written about the subject. Here’s a selection.

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (United States). Marmie and the girls are sheltered from the war, but there is in the background the worry about what’s going to happen to Father, a chaplain in the union army.
  2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (French Revolution). An English man gets tangled in the French Revolution.
  3. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M T Anderson (United States). M T Anderson’s marathon tale in two volumes about Octavian, a young African American caught up in the revolutionary war, is one of those things that people rave about, and that make you feel very clever if you read them.
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria). After the British left Nigeria in the 1960s the struggle for power saw many years of conflict. Half of a Yellow Sun is set during the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970).
  5. The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn (United Kingdom). “In 1645 in a remote English village there are rumours of bad magic, pointing to the midwife’s granddaughter, Nell. Fifty years later Patience Madden has a confession to make about what really happened to her sister, Grace and the poor girl, Nell. Set at the height of the witch craze in England in the 1640s during the Civil War, when a significant number of accusers were the young daughters of Puritan ministers. The writer makes use of the fact that young Charles II really was sent to the west country in 1645 at the age of 15, but his involvement in this story is pure make-believe.” (Catalogue entry)
  6. Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells (United States). “When the Civil War breaks out, life in the South is transformed and nothing remains the same. India Moody must summon the courage she didn’t know she had to plunge into one of the war’s most tragic and terrifying events – the Battle of Antietam, known in the South as Sharpsburg – in order to get medicine to her desperately sick father. As she struggles for survival during the Union’s brutal occupation, India gets an education in love and loss, the senseless devastation of war, and the triumph of hope in the face of despair.” (Amazon.co.uk)
  7. Only a Matter of Time by Stewart Ross (Kosovo). “It’s early 1999 when Drita, an Albanian, and Zoran, a Serb, become friends. They’re just like any other teenagers. But this is Kosovo, and Serb-Albanian tension is rising. Drita and Zoran’s families are now enemies and the couple are forced to meet in secret. The events that follow are enough to blow apart even the strongest of friendships, and Drita and Zoran are about to begin a fight for their lives. Will their friendship survive?” (Amazon.co.uk)
  8. The New World Order by Ben Jeapes. Features the British civil war… and an alien invasion.
  9. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Papua New Guinea/Bougainville). Matilda’s island existence is threatened in horrific fashion as she discovers a passion for Great Expectations.
  10. Snow falling in spring: Coming of age in China during the cultural revolution by Moying Li. A memoir of growing up in China during the cultural revoltion in the 1960s.

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