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The War Within: Civil War Post Traumatic Stress and the culture conflict in West Texas

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A young Boston debutant, with a hatred of the South, is captured by Comanche Indians while traveling to Denver. Her family is killed. She is beaten, violated and enslaved. Emotionally traumatized, only the need to free her eight year old brother from the Indians keeps her sane and gives her the will to escape. She finds refuge in a cave where a bitter Confederate veteran w A young Boston debutant, with a hatred of the South, is captured by Comanche Indians while traveling to Denver. Her family is killed. She is beaten, violated and enslaved. Emotionally traumatized, only the need to free her eight year old brother from the Indians keeps her sane and gives her the will to escape. She finds refuge in a cave where a bitter Confederate veteran with a death wish is hiding. Terror, grief, guilt, and confusion merge with fear in an unstable explosion of anger as they attempt establish a relationship and escape the Comanche warriors tracking them. The instincts of a Virginia gentleman surface and obligate him to try to return this sheltered and hostile Yankee girl to civilization. To succeed they must heal each other of the mental disorder called Soldier's Heart...PTSD.


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A young Boston debutant, with a hatred of the South, is captured by Comanche Indians while traveling to Denver. Her family is killed. She is beaten, violated and enslaved. Emotionally traumatized, only the need to free her eight year old brother from the Indians keeps her sane and gives her the will to escape. She finds refuge in a cave where a bitter Confederate veteran w A young Boston debutant, with a hatred of the South, is captured by Comanche Indians while traveling to Denver. Her family is killed. She is beaten, violated and enslaved. Emotionally traumatized, only the need to free her eight year old brother from the Indians keeps her sane and gives her the will to escape. She finds refuge in a cave where a bitter Confederate veteran with a death wish is hiding. Terror, grief, guilt, and confusion merge with fear in an unstable explosion of anger as they attempt establish a relationship and escape the Comanche warriors tracking them. The instincts of a Virginia gentleman surface and obligate him to try to return this sheltered and hostile Yankee girl to civilization. To succeed they must heal each other of the mental disorder called Soldier's Heart...PTSD.

42 review for The War Within: Civil War Post Traumatic Stress and the culture conflict in West Texas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clare O'Beara

    First I have to say: disregard the subtitle. This lengthy phrase makes this book sound like a factual report, when it's really a rip-roaring historical adventure with some romance as a hint of seasoning. Three people who each want to be left alone to lead their own lives, are thrown into conflict by circumstances far wider than themselves in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. By using these characters the author shows us the viewpoints and adaptations of the people of the day. Cathleen O' First I have to say: disregard the subtitle. This lengthy phrase makes this book sound like a factual report, when it's really a rip-roaring historical adventure with some romance as a hint of seasoning. Three people who each want to be left alone to lead their own lives, are thrown into conflict by circumstances far wider than themselves in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. By using these characters the author shows us the viewpoints and adaptations of the people of the day. Cathleen O'Donnell, known as Kate, survives the attack on her family's stagecoach but is badly used by her captors, a band of Comanche raiders. She's a debutante from Boston and had been crossing West Texas with her family to start a new life. The spirited girl takes the chance to sneak away from a campfire, but she'll never make it alone across remote country. A former Confederate Cavalry Major, Henry Morgan, has spotted Kate and comes to her aid. He's alone but for his horse, a fine Andalusian named Travis - who is as much a character as anyone. Morgan didn't intend to be lumbered with the daughter of a Union officer, and intends to dump her as soon as possible. Kate's attitude doesn't help matters. Morgan has what we now recognise as post-traumatic stress from the war, and having lost everything that mattered to him in Virginia he wants to make a new life. That's if he survives the wrathful Comanches long enough. Dorado, the leader of the raiding party, returns to a devastated village - the women, children and elders have been killed by soldiers. This was not a matter of killing tribespeople as far as the Texans were concerned, it was eliminating the support structure for the raiding Comanche bands who made life perilous for settlers. So the soldiers felt justified, but of course this atrocity unleashes the fury of revenge. In particular, Dorado believes that the fire-haired woman from the stage who escaped may have been a witch and sent bad spirits. He is determined to hunt her down and kill her, along with the scattered settlers. The setting is the rough grasslands and canyons, enlivened by buffalo skinners, decent people at a fort who condemn a woman raped by Indians, and a boy whose settling family comes under attack at their homestead. The raw real characters, locations and adventures make this compulsive reading and I barely lifted my head from the pages. In particular Bob Gaston, a veteran and journalist, has managed the finest portrait of a young woman of these times that I have read. Kate is so genuine that every thought and action feels completely natural and grows organically from her experiences and tenacity, as she learns from her escort how to survive. What more can I say? If you want to understand these times, and have a cracking good read, I strongly recommend reading The War Within.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Niffer

    I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I'll be honest--when I entered this giveaway I couldn't tell if this book was supposed to be a non-fiction study the culture of Texas in the post-Civil War era or a novel. The title "The War Within: Civil War Post Traumatic Stress and the Culture Conflict in West Texas" certainly sounds far more academic than novel-ish. And the description of the book in the giveaway was this: Following the Civil War thousands of men and their families I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I'll be honest--when I entered this giveaway I couldn't tell if this book was supposed to be a non-fiction study the culture of Texas in the post-Civil War era or a novel. The title "The War Within: Civil War Post Traumatic Stress and the Culture Conflict in West Texas" certainly sounds far more academic than novel-ish. And the description of the book in the giveaway was this: Following the Civil War thousands of men and their families from both North and South moved west seeking a fresh start and free lands under the provisions of the Homestead Act. The land belonged to the Indians. The clash of cultures was bloody and a continuation of the emotional stress of combat. One Confederate cavalry officer, trapped in the shattered dreams of what was and what might have been,is obligated, by tradition, to escort a spoiled Boston debutant to safety. Both are victims of too much blood, violence and death. Their shattered personalities suffer from what is now called post traumatic stress. They must heal each other of their hatred, anger, and fear, or die. Certainly that first paragraph sounded far more academic than not. But then the second half sounded much more like straight fiction. My impression after reading the book is that the author read a little bit about PTSD in the post-Civil War era and felt driven to write a novel about it but was far more interested in the fact that characters suffered from PTSD than in crafting a well written novel. While the story line overall is decent, a lot of the characters are so incredibly two-dimensional I'm surprised I didn't end up with papercuts and the many stereotypes were just a constant slap in the face. I think that the author might have some promise but this book really failed overall for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I won this book on First-read, and there was a note from Mr. Gaston mentioning the genre-bending qualities of this book. He was certainly correct, and it is very difficult to decide what shelves fit. It's set in the years immediately following the American Civil War, when people from both sides were moving out West. I think anyone who enjoys Westerns, romance, or late 19th century historical fiction will find this to their liking. It explores PTS in both war veterans and those going through trau I won this book on First-read, and there was a note from Mr. Gaston mentioning the genre-bending qualities of this book. He was certainly correct, and it is very difficult to decide what shelves fit. It's set in the years immediately following the American Civil War, when people from both sides were moving out West. I think anyone who enjoys Westerns, romance, or late 19th century historical fiction will find this to their liking. It explores PTS in both war veterans and those going through traumas during the conflicts with Native Americans. I imagine there will be some who find that the depictions of various characters are not politically correct. I , however , thought he did a fine job. It surely kept my attention. The characters were well drawn, and while there were horrific atrocities happening, they were historically based, and the author didn't go into unnecessary, or gory details. It's a testament to the author's writing skills that he gave the scenes description enough to give the full emotional impact to the reader. I wasn't very happy at the ending, which I felt left everything hanging for a sequel, but that's often the norm. That being said, I will be looking for the next book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sunshine

    Got this as a Firstreads win and was intrigued by the idea of the PTSD affects of the Civil War on soldiers trying to rebuild a life. Unfortunately, the novel ends up being more like a 1960s western movie. Most of the characters are broad stereotypes. For example, former Union leaders sent to organize the region refuse to listen to the common sense of 'them dumb southerners', the Comanche characters speak in broken English - to each other and are motivated to scalp people just for the fun of it Got this as a Firstreads win and was intrigued by the idea of the PTSD affects of the Civil War on soldiers trying to rebuild a life. Unfortunately, the novel ends up being more like a 1960s western movie. Most of the characters are broad stereotypes. For example, former Union leaders sent to organize the region refuse to listen to the common sense of 'them dumb southerners', the Comanche characters speak in broken English - to each other and are motivated to scalp people just for the fun of it or because they think they've been cursed, even the main female character has to remind us in every scene that she is prissy because she's from the North and that's not the way ladies act in the North. I kept picking this book up and getting in to a scene and then I had to put it back down because I just couldn't read through more than a few pages without my inner dialogue taking over and disapproving of something. What is obvious is that this author LOVES Texas and loves it's history. I just wish he loved more of his characters in this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Beck

    This is a good reads first read book. I enjoyed this book. I could tell the author did some research on the area of the setting for the story. It is not a historically accurate telling, but thats ok, its entertaining, thrilling and moving. I've enjoyed westerns since I was a teenager, and jumped at the chance to read one that was written by an author so close to home (DFW), and the setting was west Texas. The story covers two people who have survived horrific events and are thrown together tryin This is a good reads first read book. I enjoyed this book. I could tell the author did some research on the area of the setting for the story. It is not a historically accurate telling, but thats ok, its entertaining, thrilling and moving. I've enjoyed westerns since I was a teenager, and jumped at the chance to read one that was written by an author so close to home (DFW), and the setting was west Texas. The story covers two people who have survived horrific events and are thrown together trying to survive against the wilds, nature and man alike. If this were a movie it would get an "R" rating for violence, language, and sexual situations. That being said, it is not X rated, and if you are an adult, you should be able to handle it. Nothing is done without purpose for the story line. A thank you to Mr. Gaston for sending me this autographed copy. It will remain in my permanent collection for others to read and for me to someday come back and enjoy again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elisa Paige

    Gritty, action-packed, and vividly told, The War Within is a bold first novel exploring the ravaging effect of war on vastly different characters -- a Boston debutante, a southern Civil War veteran, and a Native American warrior. Each has his or her own motivations, fears, and emotional damage...and when their paths cross, their lives are irrevocably and brutally bound. Set against perhaps the most emotionally charged era in our nation's history -- just after the Civil War ended -- this is a boo Gritty, action-packed, and vividly told, The War Within is a bold first novel exploring the ravaging effect of war on vastly different characters -- a Boston debutante, a southern Civil War veteran, and a Native American warrior. Each has his or her own motivations, fears, and emotional damage...and when their paths cross, their lives are irrevocably and brutally bound. Set against perhaps the most emotionally charged era in our nation's history -- just after the Civil War ended -- this is a book that's hard to put down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Regina

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joy Henry

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danette

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan Swartos

    Got as a First Reads. Enjoyed it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kat Champigny

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aiyana

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Hutchinson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Mattix

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joel

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Zitsch

  18. 5 out of 5

    Velora Bishop

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carly

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria Matson

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Duncan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  24. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Lavender

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frank Martorana

  26. 5 out of 5

    Debra Stein

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joy Adams

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt Reese

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vennie

  31. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  32. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  33. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Read

  34. 4 out of 5

    Christine Groce

  35. 4 out of 5

    Michael Parker

  36. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  37. 4 out of 5

    Zipper Mcgee

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kim McHughes

  39. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

  41. 4 out of 5

    Maria Elena

  42. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Torres

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