Reviews for After Bondage and War

as seen on Amazon

I read After Bondage and War because I wanted to find out the story behind Hanna Drish, the heroine in Hanna’s Promise. David Claire Jennings first book lived up to the challenge. I enjoyed it as much if not more than Hanna’s Promise. As a replanted northerner, I think that I now finally understand the strong feelings surrounding the Civil War that still exist in the south. The history was fascinating, there was so much detail about historical figures that I knew them personally, how they thought and how they felt.

 

As I followed the life stories of the two main characters, Josiah Ashford and David Wexley, they became my friends. I suffered with them in their defeats and celebrated with them in their triumphs. I have always believed in the goodness of people, and to see two men from different walks of life, bond together as brothers to survive and succeed in the world, made my heart sing with happiness. Their story was touching, poignant and a testament to the concept of brotherhood among all men.

 

I am not an avid reader, so it is unusual for me to have quickly read and thoroughly enjoyed two books in a short period of time. Both books by Mr. Jennings had an easy reading style. Not too filled with long descriptive sentences, but with a structure that gave me as a reader many an “aha” moment. I felt treated as an intelligent reader who would understand the nuances of what was going on without being hit over the head with the information.

 

I heartily recommend After Bondage and War to any reader who enjoys a great story, truly believable and likable characters, and thought provoking ideas all mixed in with interesting historical information. I look forward to any future books by David Claire Jennings.

 

Thomas David- June 13, 2016

Great little weekend read. Although not a typical book I would read, I really enjoyed it. The story and the characters are just enough that you can use your own imagination which I love...not overly descriptive so you are skipping through. Love the little history thrown in to fully understand what was going on in that time of America.

Tracy Jennings- July 19, 2015

Contains good historical content on the civil war.

Paula Machut- August 5, 2015

as seen on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

Dave has a unique gift for writing history.  He also has great perspective on life in general.

 

Dave is one of those people who has not only seen life, managed to live through those many ups and downs which we humans share but taken the time to observe and chronicle his perspectives.

 

William Burak, adjunct history professor, Columbia College- August 2015  

David Claire Jennings’ novel After Bondage and War is a very touching story that deals with the underlying theme of racial harmony, as evidenced by the friendship of two characters from very disparate backgrounds, a white Union soldier with post-traumatic stress after the Civil War and a newly freed slave from a Southern plantation.

 

The two main characters and protagonists in this novel are Josiah Ashford and David Wexley.  Josiah Ashford is poignantly described as having an “insatiable curiosity and an African respect and reverence for the wisdom of his elders…As an adult, he came to the view that he was the master of his fate.  Free will permitted him to take charge of his life and strive for his own betterment.”

 

David Wexley was born into a well-to-do family, but longed for adventure.  Not wanting to continue in his father’s business, he worked as a merchant marine for a while, in order to fulfill his wanderlust.  Under a romantic view of war, he later joins up with the Union army during the Civil War, having viewed slavery as an injustice.  The thrust of his character is a passion for fighting injustice due to his Scots-Irish temperament.  Briefly, and beautifully, describing David’s temperament due to his Scots-Irish roots: “They had a long history of hating the English but would pick a fight with anybody if the cause was right…”

 

The main antagonists in this novel are Marcus Taylor and Rebecca Stanley, slaveholders of the South.  Exquisitely written, we learn of their ensuing courtship, marriage, and establishment of a plantation.  Marcus and Rebecca acquire Josiah as one of their slaves; we learn of his harsh treatment on the plantation by Marcus’ overseer, and Josiah’s tender love for, and subsequent marriage to, another slave named Josena.  We also learn of Josena’s tragic fate. 

 

As a historical fiction novel, After Bondage and War is about a 50/50 percent blend of actual historical events and characters versus fictional events and characters.  Fans of Michael and Jeff Shaara and John Jakes will enjoy this novel.  The 50/50 blend makes David Claire Jennings rather unique as an author, as the Shaaras and John Jakes have a higher percentage of either actual historical or fictional events and characters.

 

Civil War historians will enjoy the military strategy and history depicted in the chapters devoted to David Wexley’s battles in the Civil War.  But the humanity of the War is never lost:

 

“As darkness fell, he lay on the field with the thousands of the dead and wounded.  It was quiet after the cannon and muskets had ceased firing.   The ghosts kept company with the wounded and suffering.  It was so still.  There was only the sounds of the moans and cries for help from the living and those still to die.”

 

It is a chance – or was it God’s Divine Providence? - meeting in Natchez between the newly freed slave Josiah Ashford and the newly released from Andersonville prison Union soldier David Wexley that forms the critical turning point in the novel.  Each side has to overcome their fear of how they will be received by the other, and the eventual outcome is a great success – they become fast friends and travelling companions. 

 

The novel ends with the subsequent generations of Josiah’s offspring, and David Wexley leaves to go out West.  What happens to Josiah’s children? – stay tuned for David Claire Jennings’ second novel Hanna’s Promise!  What happens to David Wexley? – stay tuned for the third book in the saga, The American !

Edwin Smith- May 2016

Not being a fan of history, After Bondage and War is not a book I would have picked off the shelf. However, a friend recommended it and to make him happy, I bought the book.

Surprisingly, I found it to be very good. There was just enough history with many things I had never known, to keep me reading on to discover what happened to the many characters in the story. Having been born and raised in the north, but spending the majority of my life in the south, it was easy to see the truth in the descriptions of places, attitudes and actions in the story.

I found myself relating to David Wexley’s search for happiness and faith and envious of Josiah’s deeply ingrained faith.  The story was interesting, the characters likable or unlikable enough to keep my interest from beginning to end.

I look forward to the sequel Hanna’s Promise to see where the story leads.

Dennis Owen– June 4, 2016

After Bondage and War is David Claire Jennings first historical fiction novel. It is the poignant and touching story of two men from entirely different backgrounds who meet after the Civil War, form a bond of friendship and brotherhood which lasts a lifetime. Josiah Ashford is a slave in Alabama, while David Wexley is an outspoken and adventurous Union soldier who had just endured the horrors of captivity at Andersonville. The war is over, but for these two men, the journey is just beginning.

 

Through fate or divine intervention, they meet in Natchez, are immediately drawn to each other, and begin a life-long adventure as they struggle to find the peace and happiness they both so desperately want and need.

Aside from their color, the main difference in Josiah and David is their faith. Josiah is filled with it, and David is searching for it. Looking for their place in this new world, they travel through the south looking for Josiah’s wife Josena and when the search ends in tragedy, they head north to Ohio to make a new life.

For the reader, the fictional story is set in and among historical events, all true but with added insights into the hearts and minds of many famous men of the time. For a history buff, the story only adds to the history told throughout the book. For the fiction buff, the history only adds reality and interesting and many unknown facts to a wonderful story.

The book is an easy read, the reader is never mired down in long historical diatribes, and the fictional characters stories flow effortlessly from one situation to another.

Irene Havekost– June 4, 2016

I first met David Claire Jennings when he was a student in my History 121 course at Columbia College.  I soon discovered that I had much more to learn from him than I could ever possibly teach him.  Much like the characters David Wexley and Josiah Ashford in After Bondage and War, David and I were at two very different places in our lives. Yet, like Wexley and Ashford we discovered a bond and formed a lasting friendship.

David’s passion for writing, combined with his very practical understanding of history and his life experiences all come together in his first book:  After Bondage and War.  David tells the story of slavery, war, and reconciliation with a level of emotion often absent from writing; he tells the human side.

James Giannettino, Jr., adjunct history professor, Columbia College- June 6, 2016

© 2019 by David Claire Jennings

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