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In the summer of 1862, as the exploding Civil War tears the nation apart, Cage Carew, a self-admitted Bohemian and soft handed academic living just north of the Ohio River, remains steadfastly disinterested.
Although his fiancée secretly aids escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad crossing the River Jordan, Cage is more interested in his academia…until his indolence is shattered when she is killed by sadistic slave catcher, Francois Devol, and his menacing band of outlaws who have arrived in town in pursuit of a fugitive from bondage. However, by the time the murder is discovered, Devol and his gang have disappeared back across the Mason-Dixon line. Unable to pursue the killers as a civilian and desperate for vengeance, Cage enlists in the 52 nd Ohio Infantry Regiment of the gallant Colonel Dan McCook, who has sworn his own revenge on the Confederate guerillas for killing his defenseless brother. Cage and his companions are assigned to Captain Lyman Dunnock, a dashing veteran officer of the British East India Company Army and an expert in guerrilla warfare.
Lyman transforms his men into an elite company of scouts and snipers assigned to wipe out the roving Confederate bushwhackers who stalk the Union Army’s supply trains and terrorize Union sympathizers, while Devol rises to become a colonel in Nathan Bedford Forrest’s fierce and dreaded Cavalry Corps, cloaking his depravities in the bloody partisan warfare roaring the untamed mountains of bitterly divided Tennessee.
Cage becomes a ferocious warrior as he rubs elbows with iconic Union generals William Lytle, John T. Wilder and Phil Sheridan while battling Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, Forrest’s rampaging cavalry and alternately trading bullets and sharing coffee and swimming holes with Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee Maury Greys. There are several close calls across ambushes and bloody battlefields, but each time Devol escapes, remaining just out of reach.
A tale of murder, revenge, and historic battles of the American Civil War, How Can A Man Die Better displays the horror of combat, the flush of battle, and the monotony of a foot soldier as readers follow Cage’s desperate journey across the killing fields of Stones River, Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, and the untamed wilderness of Okefenokee swamp.
Through it all, Cage’s focus never wavers. He has become a soldier for one reason—to bring the man who killed his fiancée to justice—and he will travel wherever he must to make that happen.
"This story is a cornucopia of description. The characters feel alive, many of whom are historical figures. The loathing the reader feels for Francois Devol and his awful treatment of slaves is palpable. Not only does he mistreat them, he commits assault and murder without so much as a pang of regret. One wishes for this antagonist to get his comeuppance, and the result of this makes for satisfying reading."
-- The Book Review Directory