Ed Protzel, a St. Louis author of historical novels, has written three books about the Civil War. “Something in Madness” wraps up the trio with a close look at life in Mississippi as Durksen Hurst returns to his adopted home of Turkle during the troubled days of Reconstruction.
After fighting for the Union in Missouri as leader of a unit of Black soldiers, Durk has several people, including Antoinette DuVallier, who’s white, and Big Josh Tyler and Long Lou, who are Black. When Durk and his companions return to Turkle with big dreams, they find plantations burned or destroyed. Newly freed Blacks are trying to survive on the land, and federal troops are around to maintain a semblance of order and remind everyone who won the war.
Some whites, many of whom had been Confederate soldiers and officers, during Reconstruction enforced what came to be known as Black Codes to proscribe every movement of Black men, women and children. They wanted to maintain superiority over the descendants of slaves who had worked for no pay throughout the South for generations.
Protzel presents a sincere, workmanlike portrayal of this very difficult era in American history, from which sprang many issues that plague American society more than 150 years later. He dedicates this novel to “those courageous souls who suffered the horrors of slavery and the brutality of the Civil War and its aftermath, as well as those brave enough to aid them their perilous road to freedom and dignity — a hard road which, sadly, must still be traversed today.”
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