White Doves at Morning Hardcover – 4 Nov 2002
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|Hardcover, 4 Nov 2002||
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The author of the steamy Dave Robicheaux detective stories has turned his hand to a historical novel. White Doves at Morning tells the story of James Lee Burke's ancestor--a Confederate soldier in the American civil war. The novel illuminates the panoramic events by following the lives of a handful of people involved. The hero Willie Burke is a cheeky but brave solider who interacts with a courageous Yankee abolitionist, an intelligent and persecuted slave girl and a rogues' gallery of colourful and corrupt confederate soldiers.
Burke writes with an economical, passionate and vivid style. The violent desperation of the battlefield is described with gripping realism while the violent and sweaty atmosphere of the Confederate USA is evoked brilliantly. Burke's plot is somewhat episodic, and he assumes that his readers have more knowledge about the history and culture of America than many actually do. For the non-American reader especially, some maps, a glossary and an outline of key events would have helped enormously. Therefore this book is best read by those who already have some background knowledge about the Civil War. These cross cultural problems aside, Burke still captivates with the power of his observation and the sympathy of his storytelling. For those who like their history in realistic, but fictional form White Doves of Morning mustn't be missed. --Dwight Longenecker --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
We have secured a feature interview with James Lee Burke in THE OBSERVER magazine which will appear on Sunday 16 March. We have sent journalist Euan Ferguson to meet James in Louisiana; Euan is a big fan already and has read most of James's backlist. James has been interviewed from the US for BBC RADIO 3 NIGHTWAVES on Wednesday 12 March. The broadcast date is still to be confirmed,but it be around publication. And also for BBC RADIO 4 FRONT ROW, to be broadcast to coincide with publication. We are expecting lots of the usual excellent review coverage for White Doves at Morning, and the following are confirmed already:THE GUARDIAN, THE MIRROR, THE DAILY MAIL and UNCUT magazine 'In White Doves at Morning, Burke demonstrates again his bravura skill at memorablecharacterisation, acute dialogue and wonderfully evocative descriptions.' OBSERVER 30/3/03 'a compelling riposte to Margaret Mitchell's nostalgic myth-making' THE SUNDAY TIMES 6/4/03 'White Doves at Morning is an uncompromising examination of the "moral insanity" of war and slavery. It's a rare venture into historical fiction for Burke, a celebrated crime writer, but his established readership won't be disappointed...it reveals a greater complexity of characterisation and overal subtlety than his previous work. ... Burke places an uncomfortable spotlight on white American history, but the profundity of the issues never interferes with the drama and excitement of the story.' DAILY TELEGRAPH 22/3/03 'Best known as a crime writer, James Lee Burke spreads his wings to fine effect in this stirring tale of the American Civil War. ... White Doves at Morning makes a worthy addition to the canon. It captures the roller-coaster excitements of fast-changing times. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 13/4/03 'This is a departure for Burke, who is best known for his contemporary detective novels, and anyone who has read those will already know he writes like an angel.His prose id deceptively fluent and, his pacing unbeatable and the subject of White Doves at Morning is close to his heart.' DAILY MAIL 28/3/03 'This is both a moving account of the horrors of war and a subtle yet powerful examination of the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. Written with a wit and wisdom reminiscent of Mark Twain, it is nothing short of a masterpiece.' WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY 'When writing about the physical world of the Deep South, Burke has feel equals. ... In White Doves at Morning, he brings this gift to bear on the experience of battle in the Civil War. These are among the best things Burke has ever written, and they deserve to be read alongside TheRde Badge of Courage.' TLS 18/4/03 'As well as a fascinating examination of the ethical chasm at the heart of battle, White Doves at Morning is also a beautifully written. Clearly a novel the author wanted to write it's not just areturn to form - it's terrific.' UNCUT magazine May 03 'A wonderfully colourful novel that yet again creates a vivid atmosphere that is almost tangible' CRIME TIME 'James Lee Burke is a gifted writer whose words echo in your mind hours after you read them... This is another winner from Burke, who manages to educate as well as entertain with plenty of factual snippets from a very turbulent period in US history.' syndicated local press review 'The characters are colourful and well-written. Burke keeps the reader's attention by focusing on plot and character development yet keeping the story just on the edges of the great battles and events of the time. This is a simple yet finely crafted story about the cost of war and slavery soaked in the atmosphere of the period.' GOOD BOOK GUIDE 'White Doves at Morning is yet another remarkable and recommended work.' DUBLIN EVENING HERALD James is being interviewed for the GL --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm not sure one has to be up on Civil War history ahead of time, becuase the novel can be taken as it is. And as it is it adds a much needed perspective to the conflict - a Southerner's. As with many Southern writers who deal with historical material Burke is not afraid to examine the truly complex issues of race. In this novel we meet a rich planter who owns his daughter, and we watch their relationship as she eventually becomes free and he eventually acknowledges her. Strong stuff. The fact that it happened so recently in America is still shocking.
I think, really, that Burke deals with many subjects that "Cold Mountain" doesn't. Another novel I'd recommend is "Walk Through Darkness", by David Anthony Durham. It's also brilliantly written and complex and - in terms of pure narrative drive and suspense - very fulfilling.
The storyline is constructed around characters from the deep south during the American Civil War and gives the reader a fascinating insight into those times. This is not a book that is concerned only with the war, the author skilfully develops the central characters and builds upon the interaction between them and their adversaries. This is not just a book for the male reader, I strongly recommend this novel to both genders as there are very strong female characters in this book who will not fail to be of interest.
I have sought out more novels by this author since reading this as I know when I'm onto a winner.
The author’s ancestor Willie Burke and his story is a raw slice of the old south with it’s heroes and villains, true causes and dreadful flaws all painted in Burke’s wonderful style. The Louisiana and Cajun country is there. It’s bayous and decaying towns and the people that inhabit them are vividly portrayed as in the Robicheaux series but there is an extra historical depth to the story which ends almost too soon. I can shut my eyes and still see the morning mist in the live oaks and the dust on the ‘butternut’ uniforms.
Like the Robicheaux novels, "White Doves" is set largely in the Gulf Coast, entirely in the South, during the American Civil War and the ensuing period, known as "Reconstruction," though there was precious little reconstruction getting done. At the center of the novel are, apparently, two of Burke's own ancestors, Robert Perry, from a slave-owning, wealthy family, and Willie Burke, from a family of Irish immigrants, both apparently decent and conscientious men, who, even so, join the Confederate Army. Both men rather fancy Abigail Dowling, a beautiful Massachusetts abolitionist who has taken up residence in New Iberia, the better to fight slavery. Burke has taught to read and write - against all local law and custom --Flower Jamison, beautiful mulatto daughter of a slave and Irv Jamison, the ruthless owner of the immense Angola Plantation. Which Jamison will convert to the notorious Angola prisoner after war's end. (We'll be introduced to many rich and arrogant men in Burke's work).
As ever, Burke's descriptions of the country where he was born, and has set his most successful novels, are outstanding. His description of the Civil War, a horrendously long and bloody event, and its effects upon man, beast, and countryside are also outstanding, particularly the famous battles of Shiloh and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.Read more ›
The prose is - as you might expect - magical and the descriptions of Shiloh particularly good. However I did not find this book as compelling as the Robicheuax series, nor was it as readable as Two for Texas. Burke - apparently - was writing a fictionalised account of his ancestor Willie Burke's participation in the War Between the States and I wonder if a little too much reverence was involved preventing the reader getting as involved with the characters as we do with the contemporary stuff. The 'goodies' were a bit too perfect - notably the abolitionist woman Abigail, who I found a real credibility stretch - and the slave girl Flower - who probably (improbably actually) would give most post-graduate students a run for their money in insight and intellect. I notice Burke does this occassionally; load up a character with almost divine prescience to the detriment of their authenticity; he did with Pete Flores in 'Rain Gods.'
Also the plantation owner; overseer; poor white trash overseer's mate do not live in the way the baddies do in the crime stuff. They do not learn or grow like Troyce Nicks - the savage prison guard - in 'Swan Peak' or Dixie Lee Pugh, the wiped-out singer in 'Black Cherry Blues.' That - I feel - is Burke's greatest skill; making you care about apparently awful, sometimes diabolical, people.
As any reader can tell, I am a Burke fan and any criticisms have to set into context. If you've never read James Lee Burke and you come to this you will be stunned by how good it is; the descriptions, the humanity; the atmosphere. I would strongly recommend that everyone reads it, but I'd recommend that everyone reads everything James Lee Burke has written.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I could not put this book down.
JLB is very good at drawing you in and holding you,
making you wonder what will happen next.
An extremely interesting story which puts you back into the times of the American Civil War. Difficult book to put down.Published on 11 April 2013 by chris raven
Hmm, a hit but mainly a miss of a read as far as I'm concerned as whilst I admired the authors willingness to examine the issues surrounding race at that time and thought his... Read morePublished on 12 Oct. 2012 by Tracy Terry
For fans of James Lee Burke this is a worthwhile departure from his usual books and for them and newcomers a fascinating insight into a period of US history that, for me, had only... Read morePublished on 24 Mar. 2010 by Ruth Wynne
White Doves at Morning is a fine book about the American Civil War as seen through the eyes of a handful of people, both white and black, slaves and slaveowners. Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2004
A good read. It would be unfair to reveal the plot but any lack of knowledge of US Civil War history is no bar to enjoying this book - just replace the characters from any other... Read morePublished on 20 April 2003