Book Reviews
HAWK MacKINNEY Author - Public Speaker



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MOCCASIN TRACE Historical Romance   Nominated for... The Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and  The Writers Notes Book Award
Printed Version: 300 pages Kindle Version: Available Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing (August 1, 2006) Language: English ISBN-10: 15-95071482 ISBN-13: 978-1595071484
Reviewer: Anne Lovett, News Magazine, Georgia Writers Association Moccasin   Trace   is   at   heart   a   tender   love   story   with   a   generous   dollop   of   military   history   and   commentary   about   war   and   its   leaders.   In   1859,   Hamilton Ingram   of   Moccasin   Hollow   and   Sarah   Greer   of   Wisteria   Bends,   passionate   young   lovers   residing   on   neighboring   plantations   in   a   region   of   Georgia somewhere   between Augusta   and   Macon,   become   engaged   and   are   looking   forward   to   their   grand   wedding. They   "jump   the   gun,"   but   no   one   notices--or   so they   think. They   don't   realize   the   seriousness   of   the   winds   of   "secesh,"   blowing   from   Washington   City   to   Charlestown,   and   their   families   get   caught   up   in   the path   to   war.   The   main   story   is   how   they   and   their   love   manage   to   survive   the   war's   devastation   and   desolation,   as   well   as   their   personal   losses.   The strength   of   the   book   lies   in   its   description   of   the   war's   effect   on   farmers   and   on   commerce,   on   ports   and   harbors,   something   that   is   dry   in   history   books,   but comes   alive   in   these   pages.   The   conversations   between   the   older   men   and   their   sons   reveal   various   attitudes   people   had   toward   the   upcoming   secession and about their leaders, which may be relevant to the world today. The characters are well-drawn and likable, distinctive, strong, and even heroic. The dialogue is believable. This author is at his best in his wonderfully descriptive passages... Swarthy   billows   belched   from   the   twin   stacks,   and   settled   out   on   the   river.   Dockside   mooring   lines   cast   off   from   the   bollards   splashed   the   water,   dragging alongside,   and   the   gangplank   hoisted,   swung   inboard.   Twin   paddle   wheels   sloshed   several   lazy   rotations;   stopped;   slowly   churned   in   reverse;   stopped again.   The   Harbor   Pilot   let   her   drift   away   from   the   dock.   She   took   to   the   river;   the   current   swung   the   bow...and   the   city   slipped   astern. A   white   egret   winged its   way   over   the   syrupy   water.   Settled   ahead   of   them   down-river   among   the   tall   regal   cypress   trees,   that   seemed   to   be   wading   through   the   lush   undergrowth along the banks. MacKinney   has   a   distinctive   style   which   has   a   charm   of   its   own.   Sometimes   it   tends   to   keep   the   reader   outside   the   story   rather   than   inside,   but   that's   okay; it's   recognized   way   of   writing.   Moccasin   Trace   is   an   entertaining   and   informative   addition   to   the   War   of   Northern   Aggression   bookshelf.   Mr.   MacKinney, author and public speaker, is a former Navy commander and professor and lives near the area described in this book.
Reviewer: STRAIGHT FROM THE LIBRARY                Moccasin   Trace,   set   around   the   time   of   the   War   Between   the   States,   is   the   story   of   how   the   times   affected   two   families.   …   What   draws   the   reader   in   is   the relationship   between   the   characters….   A   good   read   for   fans   of   historical   fiction.      It   is   clear   (the   author)   has   done   his   research   and   the   discussions   the   men have about the upcoming war ring true to life.   My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Reviewer: Karen Pirnot for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars If   you're   looking   for   a   good   historical   fiction   read,   pick   up   a   copy   of   Moccasin   Trace   by   Hawk   MacKinney.   In   this   novel   set   in   Georgia   in   the   1860s,   we   get   an in-depth   look   at   two   plantations.   Wisteria   Bend   is   a   traditional   slave   plantation   with   proud   owner   Andrew   Greer,   his   wife   Corinthia,   daughter   Sarah,   and   son Ben   in   charge.   Their   house   slave   Bessie   and   her   son   Sam   are   considered   part   of   the   family   and,   indeed,   oftentimes   have   a   great   deal   to   say   in   interpersonal decision-making.   Then   there   is   Moccasin   Hollows,   with   its   owner   widowed   Rundell   Ingram   and   his   strapping   young   son   Hamilton.   Best   friends,   Andrew   and Rundell   have   divergent   opinions   when   South   Carolina   secedes   from   the   Union.   Andrew   helps   to   form   a   militia   while   Rundell   and   Hamilton   busy   themselves attempting   to   protect   the   land   which   they   feel   will   soon   be   inundated   by   Yankees.   Hamilton   and   Sarah   form   a   permanent   bond   between   the   families   when they marry. It is a bond that will carry them through tragedy and commitment. Even   though   I   felt   the   story   was   a   bit   slow   in   developing,   I   did   love   the   research   that   went   into   the   authentic   plot. All   of   the   characters   were   marvelous,   but   I particularly   loved   the   way   author   MacKinney   portrayed   Corinthia,   a   traditional   Southern   mistress.   His   chapter   on   Corinthia   meeting   the   Union   Soldiers   was one   of   those   pieces   of   writing   that   stays   with   you   because   of   its   simple   dignity.   It   is   the   poignant   accounting   of   an   individual   who   knows   the   past   is   gone   and the   future   is   uncertain.   Nobody   really   wanted   what   happened   in   the   war   between   the   states   and   this   book   portrays   how   the   traditional   South   yielded   to   the inevitability of history.
Reviewer: A. Blake – 5 Stars Childhood sweethearts growing up during Civil War time. Lots of research by Author. A romance, coming of age, Civil War, family and the list goes on. If you haven't read it add this one to your list!!
Reviewer: Richard Lee – 5 Stars I   looked   up   this   book   after   I   heard   Hawk   give   a   radio   interview   on   the   Jack   &   Rod   Show.   First,   I   am   a   sucker   for   historical   love   stories   (of   course   not   counting the Pearl Harbor movie.) When   I   heard   him   explaining   how   George   Bush   was   like Abe   Lincoln,   I   knew   that   this   gentleman   must   really   know   his   stuff.   I   suppose   you   could   also   include Jefferson   Davis   in   this,   because   all   3   of   these   men   got   caught   up   in   events….He   was   definitely   correct   to   say   that   the   founding   documents   in   our   constitution did set things up. Anyway,   a   really   terrific   book   from   a   great   author.   I   hope   he   goes   back   on   the   Jack   &   Rod   Show   to   promote   his   next   book;   that   way,   we   can   have   our   whole book club pick up copies again.
Reviewer: LONG & SHORT REVIEWS        Charm   marks   MacKinney’s   civil   war-era   romance:   The   charm   of   the   south,   the   built-in,   home   grown   sort   of   charm   that   happens   in   families   that   rely   on   one another,   and   among   people   who   strive   to   maintain   their   own   sense   of   self   in   such   times.   There   is   much   here   on   the   strength   and   gentility   of   specific personalities that have struggled through such a difficult time. Moccasin   Trace   is   full   of   the   sense   of   old   time   southern   flavor–war   torn   and   struggling,   but   somehow   still   sweet.   Conversations,   from   tone   to   choice   of language   help   create   an   aura   of   ‘old   time   south.”   Hamilton   and   his   lovely   Sarah   are   our   main   characters,   and   both   are   refreshingly   human.   They   are   nice people,   obviously   attracted,   but   also,   human   and   flawed.   They   aren’t   the   sort   of   characters,   nor   have   they   the   sort   of   relationship,   that   keeps   one   madly turning the page, but they are interesting, if a bit precious. Although   the   story   ‘starts’   in   1865,   events   can   happen   at   different   times:   more   than   once   I   was   confused   as   to   whether   I   was   reading   something   that   had happened,   or   was   looking   forward   to   something   that   was   going   to.   This   story   is   both   their   marriage   and   their   courtship,   and   there’s   no   concern   on   giving away the romance, as it sets off with them married. They run in to their share of troubles, and that is the more unpredictable piece. In   this   work,   oddly   enough,   some   secondary   characters   are   greater   and   more   appealing   than   the   main   characters.   The   wisdom   of   Corinthia   shines   through whenever   she   appears,   and   her   voice   seems   so   authentic.   “Although   my   place   is   here,   I   can’t   put   away   thoughts   of   other   mothers   and   daughters   weeping   for sons   and   loved   ones   and   husbands   they   may   never   hold   again.   It’s   the   same   dread   I   felt   when   you   had   whooping   cough.   That   whole   dreadful   night   Bessie and I sat up praying for you…” And   author   MacKinney   has   a   deft   hand   with   humor   as   well,   and   makes   the   most   of   a   turn   of   phrase   (For   example:   We   don’t   want   you   mopin’   like   some   cow off its feed. from Bessie, who has a whole different slant on Wisdom.) Those interested in the era will find this book heartwarming.
Reviewer: HOPE, DREAMS, LIFE...LOVE.   I   enjoyed   a   glimpse   into   everyday   life   in   another   century.   We   get   to   see   the   South   both   before   and   after   the   war.   MacKinney   carries   readers   to   balls, masquerades,   hunts,   and   other   social   events,   even   a   honeymoon.   We   take   a   lot   of   things   for   granted   today,   but   he   showed   how   bad   transportation   was,   and of   course   people   couldn't   listen   to   daily   news   to   find   out   how   the   war   was   going.   I   was   also   interested   in   his   description   of   the   ladies'   clothes.   Making   them   by hand was much harder than going to the department store. Some things don't change, though. People still love their families, hold political opinions, and try to be true to their principles. I   was   interested   in   the   characters'   take   on   the   war.   They   decided   that   slavery   was   not   the   real   issue   of   the   war,   but   it   was   a   good   excuse   to   rile   people   to action. And   speaking   of   slavery,   I'm   not   sure   what   to   think   about   that.   One   of   the   slaves   said   she   loved   the   white   children   of   her   masters   as   much   as   she   did   her   own son, and when her son ran away, the master didn't put out any runaway slave notices. I'm just not sure that's realistic in most cases. A   couple   of   things   irritated   me.   The   dialect   slowed   the   book   down   for   me,   and   since   presumably   the   rich   plantation   owners   were   educated   people,   I   found their   vocabulary   to   be   somewhat   lacking.   I   also   don't   know   how   closely   young   ladies   of   wealthy   families   were   chaperoned,   but   these   characters   had   the freedom to sneak off and share intimacy before marriage. Overall,   though,   I   enjoyed   this   look   into   a   vanished   world   and   wouldn't   hesitate   to   recommend   it.   This   little   snippet   is   a   good   example   of   what   I'm   talking about. In   the   muggy   morning   bright   sun   Hamilton   made   his   way   through   the   fragrance   of   steamy   horse   manure,   leaky   turpentine   kegs,   open   bales   of   mildewed cotton,   and   the   rankness   of   where   dock-hands   and   vagrants   had   relieved   themselves. The   docks   were   one   milling   multitude   of   shirtless,   cussin’   teamsters   off- loading cargo from wagons onto several steamers, while a company of uniforms boarded through one forward gangway.
Reviewer: OUR WOLVES DEN                     The   first   chapter   really   caught   my   attention.   I   became   thrown   into   a   time   of   hardship,   into   a   world   that   I   never   knew.   The   description   of   the   devastation   to   the lives,   the   land,   and   the   memories   of   families,   especially   focusing   on   Rundall,   Sarah,   and   Hamilton.   The   book   then   reverts   to   a   happier   time,   of   wealth, growth, and promise. Hawk   MacKinney   has   the   amazing   ability   to   describe   scenery   in   such   detail   that   you   can   live   it   in   your   mind   with   no   effort. Two   of   my   favorite   characters   were Corinthia   Greer,   she   was   a   strong   woman.   I   enjoyed   her   way   of   speaking   her   mind   if   needed   and   how   she   kept   the   family   in   line.   The   other   character   which stood   out   to   me   was   their   “slave”   housekeeper   {for   lack   of   a   better   word},   she   not   only   looked   after   the   Greers   but   also   the   Ingrams.   She   was   treated   as   well as one could ever be, her and her son. She was one of the most memorable for me, because of her way of thinking, her strong-will, and her caring ways. There   is   a   lot   of   political   banter   between   characters   in   this   book….   But   this   was   worth   reading   to   fully   understand   the   thoughts,   fears,   and   actions   of   the   time. Plus, the intricate details of everyday living, events, etc was well worth it. All   in   all   I   enjoyed   the   book.   I   learned   from   the   pictures   that   the   author   was   able   to   create   through   his   writing.   It   also   opened   my   eyes   to   the   true   reality   that some of this could easily happen again, which is frightening.
Reviewer: IT’S RAINING BOOKS                Moccasin Trace   -   It   is   the   1860s   and   the   country   is   in   turmoil.   We've   seen   the   big   picture,   but   this   novel   is   how   those   times   affected   not   only   the   nation   but   the individual.      It   begins   after   the   war—times   are   harsh,   people   have   been   hardened   and   lost   not   only   their   belongings   but   a   sense   of   who   they   were.   It   begins   in near   despair—then   travels   back   in   time   to   happier   days   and   shows   you   how   two   once   proud   families   came   to   the   circumstances   in   which   they   find themselves. The   author   has   done   a   wonderful   job   at   recreating   the   times   before   the   Civil   War.   Whenever   men   would   gather,   they   would   discuss   politics   and   the   changes they saw looming. Hotheads vied with those who urged a more guarded approach. And,   behind   them   all   stood   the   women—and   it's   in   these   characters   Hawk   MacKinney   really   stood   out,   creating   some   memorable   characters...   characters this   reader   came   to   care   for   deeply.   Especially   the   two   mother-figures   in   the   novel—they   are   different   yet   the   same   in   one   very   important   way—their   strength and their deeply rooted love for their family. There   is   a   romance   of   a   sort—but   it's   not   the   "omg   are   they   going   to   get   together"   kind   of   story—when   the   novel   starts,   Hamilton   and   Sarah   are   already married. It is, instead, the poignant tale of how two people who love each other can come together after disaster hits. Even if you aren't normally a fan of Civil War era stories... give this one a try.     My rating: 4 of 5 stars .
Reviewer: MY DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS                             My rating: 5 of 5 stars ( When   I   first   began   reading,   I   knew   I   would   like   the   book,   but   I   wasn’t   certain   of   the   rating   I   would   give   it.   I   enjoyed   the   history,   but   it   seemed   rather   typical   in the   beginning.   I   understood   that   the   South   was   on   the   brink   of   war,   but   it   seemed   that   no   one   was   concerned.   There   was   some   minimal   profanity   (not   worth mentioning),   and   there   were   some   intimate   scenes   (no   major   details).   Honestly,   the   discussion   of   sex   within   the   book   seemed   rather   misplaced. At   least,   that is what I initially thought. It   has   been   some   time   since   I   have   said   this,   but   I   am   so   glad   that   I   persevered   in   this   book   with   an   open   mind.   In   time,   I   discovered   that   the   opening   made sense.   Of   course   the   Southerners   would   have   had   more   important   things   on   their   minds   than   an   upcoming   war. And   the   discussion   of   sex   made   me   think   that maybe   sex   before   marriage   did   occur   more   often   back   during   that   period   than   I   might   have   realized.   I   had   never   thought   about   this   before.   Perhaps   the   book deserved a 4-star rating. Well,   as   you   can   see,   the   book   earned   a   5-star   rating!   I   appreciated   that   the   author   was   realistic.   He   did   not   portray   a   romanticized   view   of   the   Civil   War. Difficult   things   happened   within   the   lives   of   the   characters,   and   I   truly   connected   with   them.   The   ending   left   me   somewhat   hanging,   but   that   is   the   author’s prerogative. My gratitude goes to the author for writing a book about the Civil War that was educational and certainly captivating.
Reviewer: THE AVID READER    ( If   you   like   reading   and   learning   about   the   Civil   War,   two   families   that   cared   a   lot   for   each   other   and   also   a   boy   and   girl   who…spent   most   of   their   lives   with each other and ended up falling in love as adults, then I recommend Moccasin Trace.
Reviewer:  A. Blake--Midwest Childhood   sweethearts   growing   up   during   Civil   War   time.   Lots   of   research   by Author. A   romance,   coming   of   age,   Civil   War,   family   and   the   list   goes   on.   If   you haven't read it add this one to your list!!
Reviewer: Billie Clements - Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium Reviewers of Young Adult Literature, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library Hamilton   Ingram   worships   the   young   Sarah   Greer   of   the   next   plantation   in   eastern   Georgia   in   the   summer   of   1859.   As   the   looming   war   creeps   upon   the community,   dividing   friends   in   philosophy,   young   Hamilton   struggles   with   his   own   decisions   of   loyalty.   The   neighboring   families   share   generations   of   tradition and   closeness.   As   war   breaks   out,   the   young   couple   marry   and   find   greater   challenges   await   them.   The   families   face   the   difficulties   of   war   and   hardship while   attempting   to   survive   on   war   torn   land. A   well-crafted   novel   of   the   effects   of   war   sweeping   over   the   South.   The   effective   use   of   dialect   brings   the   story even closer to the reader. Very good characterization--highly recommended.
Reviewer: Kenneth Cranmore, Atlanta GA One of the best books I have read this year. Wonderful book--a must read.
Reviewer: Myra Hargrave McIlvain, Author The   love   story   and   family   saga   captures   the   rhythm   of   plantation   life   and   longings   in   the   Civil   War   South...   details   are   finely   nurtured   in   language   that   feels like poetry... a history buff's delight!
Reviewer: ArcheBooks Publishing Inc. One of our best selling titles…
Reviewer: Fran Bush    Booklovers Bookstore, Aiken SC Moccasin   Trace   is   part   love   story,   part   family   saga   and   part   Civil   War   History.   Set   in   East   Georgia   in   1859   and   going   through   1864.   Moccasin   Trace   is   a gripping   novel   that   brings   the   era   to   life.   It   will   make   you   laugh   and   cry   and   feel   that   you   have   lived   through   that   turbulent   period.   Moccasin   Trace   is   historical fiction well worth the time it takes to read it.
Reviewer: Barbara Casey President, The Barbara Casey Agency. Author: Shyla’s Initiative, The Coach's Wife, The House of Kane, Just Like Family and Cadence of Gypsies "One of the most engaging and brilliantly crafted historical works since Margaret Mitchell's great classic."