Devil's Dream: A Novel About Nathan Bedford Forrest
Madison Smartt Bell
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A powerful new novel about Nathan Bedford Forrest, the most reviled, celebrated, and legendary of Civil War generals. With the same eloquence, dramatic energy, and grasp of history that marked his award-winning fictional trilogy of the Haitian Revolution, Madison Smartt Bell now turns his gaze to America’s Civil War. We see Forrest on and off the battlefield, in less familiar but no less revealing moments of his life; we see him treating his slaves humanely even as he fights to ensure their continued enslavement; we see his knack for keeping his enemy unsettled, his instinct for the unexpected, and his relentless stamina. As Devil's Dream moves back and forth in time, a vivid portrait comes into focus: a rough, fierce man with a life full of contradictions.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
but this one was hardheaded! A whisper of wood came away from a chunk of cedar he held braced in one of his hands. In the other, a sliver of blade caught a gleam of the moon. What was he shaping? Something round—a bedpost knob, or a darning egg. Forrest turned away from the door. Aunt Sarah stood by the iron pump now, her matchstick figure upright and still. Forrest crossed the yard toward her and sat down on the edge of the cistern. A tin cup hung from a horn of the faucet. Aunt Sarah pumped
by himself, and no reply had come to his urgent messages to Bragg. Tunnel Hill was the first place terrain favored them to make a stand. Where they’d stopped now, shallow ridges of limestone jutted out among the cedars—pale chips of rock scattering from them as more Yankee bullets buzzed in from down the slope. Cowan jerked his head, aiming the point of his beard to a thicker clump of trees not far above them, and Anderson helped him drag Forrest toward this shelter. “Look in my saddlebag,”
see you later,” Burke muttered, with as much menace as he could muster with ten yards and a waist-high fence between them. “I shore will look forward to it.” Forrest picked up the mandolin from the porch floor and walked out in the yard. Burke was helping Rodham, who still nursed his right arm, clamber on to his horse. When he was done Forrest handed him the instrument. “If ye ain’t left no other propitty here, I reckon ye won’t have no call to come back.” Burke took the mandolin without a
looked toward the battle, or sometimes cupping it in his palm to study more closely. That old Spanish doubloon that Jeffrey Forrest had plowed up somewhere in Mississippi and ever after worn around his neck. Forrest had carried it since his brother was killed, and it wasn’t an especially good sign when he commenced studying it this way. “General,” Henri gasped. “You must come.” Forrest looked up at him half-unseeing. “Come whar?” “The fort—” Henri leaned forward, braced hands on his knees in
cain’t think of a thing more fun than a war.” ON THE MORNING of the tenth day of his leave at LaGrange, Forrest woke to a muttering he took at first to be the sound of a light rain. But when he opened his eyes the windows streamed with sunshine. It was a little too warm in the bedroom, from embers of the fire Mary Ann had insisted on lighting the night before. Now she knelt before the window, her bare toes snug on the oval carpet, her knees pressing through the cotton of her gown onto the bare