Pub Date 29 Jul 2017
Sons of My Fathers, based on the true story of author Michael A. Simpson’s family, is a multi-generational journey that intertwines two dramatic stories set one hundred years apart—the heroic saga of 19-year-old Ulysses Simpson who, when "hell comes to Georgia," joins his father on a course of revenge, a path that will forever change the destiny of their clan. And the true tale of another young Simpson man six generations later who, despite his moral reservations, enlists in the U.S. Army, following in the footsteps of his father who was a WWII Marine Corps combat veteran and one of the legendary fighting force's elite instructors during the Korean War.
When Ron volunteers as a "walking dead"—the term for those who fly unarmed medevac helicopters during combat because of their high mortality rate—but is instead assigned to fly a Huey gunship, he fights a personal war with himself over whether to keep a century-old family oath. As his brother Michael comes of age and experiences his first love, Ron's fateful decision forces him to confront his family's past and risk sacrificing his own future, an act that ultimately sets a landmark precedent for "soldiers of conscience" who would follow him in military service.
Deeply personal and compellingly written by the younger brother in this story, the book is uniquely set against America's involvement in two great civil wars—our country's own conflict in the 1860s and Vietnam in the late 1960s. It is an evocative journey into the author's family history and the universal themes central to it—the bonds of family and star-crossed love, duty versus faith, the true nature of patriotism and conscience in war, and the turbulent end of innocence. Rich in emotional textures, Sons of My Fathers is a transformative and timeless coming-of-age narrative.
This is a story of one family and two wars separated by 100 years. The two wars happen to be the most divisive in American history – the Civil War of 1861-1865 and the Vietnam War which ended in 1975, but began either in the 1950s or the 1960s. It is a novel, but it is a novel so based on historical and real family events that it could almost be non-fiction. One of the main characters is actually the author.
Welcome to “Sons of My Father” by Michael Simpson.
Simpson tells two stories in this book. One is set largely in 1864, when Simpson’s small farmer ancestors (they were not slave owners) find the entire family caught up in the Civil War as both soldiers and non-combatants. After capturing Chattanooga, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union army is advancing on Atlanta.
The countryside is in chaos – advance Union patrols, retreating Confederate soldiers, roaming bands of deserters and even criminals. Baylis Simpson has four sons fighting for the South and a daughter, son, and granddaughter at home. A band of deserters or criminals happens upon the two girls; the daughter is raped and the granddaughter is murdered. Baylis, on leave from the Georgia Home Guard for planting, tracks them down, and exacts revenge, the rapist meeting a particularly gruesome death. Baylis and one of his sons will then find their army units and discover themselves at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the last hurdle before Sherman can take Atlanta.
This is the South in the Civil War. Lawlessness everywhere, law and order breaking down, farms often stripped of anything edible and women and children left to starve.
The second story starts in the early 1960s. Three boys – Alex Granger, Ron Simpson, and Ron’s younger brother Michael – are the closest of friends. Alex grows up with the Simpsons almost as a member of the family. His own father is dead and Ron and Michael’s father Harold, a veteran World War II Marine, helps to raise him.
The boys get into the kinds of pranks and escapades that boys often did in the 1960s. But as Alex and Ron graduate from high school, they decide to enlist in the Army. And what’s hanging over both of them is the Vietnam War.
Moving back and forth between the two narratives, Simpson paints a picture of the effects of war, the divisiveness of war, and the tremendous stresses that families experience in wartime. He also paints a picture of what happens when a highly trained helicopter pilot, understanding what happened with the My Lai Massacre, decides he can’t participate in the killing of the enemy. (This is based on a historical situation involving Ron Simpson, one that went to trial in federal court in Atlanta.)
Michael Simpson is a screenwriter, director, and producer of documentaries and feature films. His credits include the movies “Crazy Heart” and “Kidnaping Mr. Heineken” among many others. This is his first novel.
“Sons of My Fathers” is gripping, moving, and eye-opening. It tells the story of how the idea of duty and honor infuses families down through the generations. And it tells what happens when duty and honor collide with conscience
5 Star on Amazon