Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hiram's Honor by Max R. Terman

Many of us fantasize about going back in time, Max Terman actually does.  In Hiram's Honor: Reliving Private Terman's Civil War we travel with Private Hiram Terman of the Ohio 82nd Volunteer Infantry back to the American Civil War.  This historical novel allows readers to see the war from the perspective of Union soldier.  Terman has crafted this story of his great uncle from various first-hand accounts.  Unfortunately, Private Terman left no written descriptions in the form of journals or letters to support Dr. Terman’s dialogue.

Therefore, Hiram’s Honor, is a well-crafted, voyage of discovery in which Professor Terman’s invented dialogue makes you believe you are with Hiram and share his experiences.
Terman’s first person narrative takes you the battlefield to “see the elephant” and experience the conflict.  The author's vivid descriptions such as the artillery bombardment at Cross Keys,  the casualties at Chancellorsville, and the walking skeletons at Andersonville bring the reader to scene.  The reader experiences both combat and confinement in all its stark and brutal reality.
As a backdrop we have campfire discussions among Isaiah, Seth, and Hiram.  While the cursing Seth complains about the poor Union leadership, Isaiah turns his heart towards the heavens and prays for God to protect them, and Hiram moderates the disagreements and uses his grandmother's folk medicine to keep the men alive.
Terman’s narrative follows the experiences of 82nd Ohio from camp at Grafton, WV to battles at McDowell, Cross Keys, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.  After Hiram and his friends are captured, we join them on the journey south to Belle Island POW Camp in Richmond to Andersonville. 
Dr. Terman has crafted a poignant drama of men enduring the horrors of battle and the nightmares of captivity.  As  I  read the narrative I was drawn into the suffering the men experienced at Andersonville and their desperate efforts to survive with their honor and dignity intact.  Private Hiram succeeded. As we joined Hiram at the Columbus train station, we joined the reunited black family to thank Hiram for his sacrifice and celebrate his return.  So too do we acknowledge Dr. Terman’s skills in creating such a compelling narrative and excellent basis for a sesquicentennial movie.
A couple of additions would help immensely.  A map showing the locations of the places in the novel would be a worthwhile supplement.  I would also include a brief paragraph summarizing the political and military events.  There doesn't seem to be a connection between the Sultana and Hiram's return to Ohio via Annapolis and the B&O railroad.
Dr. MaxTerman is professor emeritus at Tabor College in Kansas.  He is the author of three books and numerous articles.
Dr. Terman supplied a pdf copy of this book for my review.
Using my general officer ranking system, I give the book a rank of Lieutenant General or 3 stars out of 4. 
Ranking System:

   *       1 star -   Brigadier General
   **     2 stars - Major General
   ***   3 stars - Lieutenant General
   **** 4 stars - General

1 comment:

Allen Mesch said...

I've just learned that the print edition has pictures and maps not available in the ebook format.