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Before the Dawn A Story of the Fall of Richmond   By: (1862-1919)

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Before the Dawn is a gripping historical novel written by Joseph Alexander Altsheler that delves into the fall of Richmond during the American Civil War. Through his vivid storytelling, Altsheler takes readers on a journey through the final days of the Confederacy's capital, offering a unique perspective on the events that unfolded during this pivotal time in American history.

The narrative revolves around Charlie Gaston, a young Confederate soldier, whose experiences serve as the lens through which the story unfolds. Altsheler skillfully develops Gaston's character, capturing the essence of his internal conflicts as he grapples with the crumbling of his beloved South. Through Gaston's eyes, readers witness the desperation and hopelessness that permeated Richmond as the city succumbed to the inevitable defeat.

Altsheler's attention to detail and profound research are evident throughout the book. His meticulous descriptions transport readers back in time, painting a vivid picture of the war-torn city. From the bustling streets of Richmond to the harrowing battlefields, the author masterfully recreates the atmosphere of the era, immersing readers in the chaos and uncertainty of war.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Before the Dawn is Altsheler's ability to capture the complex emotions and beliefs of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Through thought-provoking dialogues and well-drawn characters, he expertly explores the motivations and ideals that drove men on both sides of the conflict. This nuanced portrayal adds depth and authenticity to the story, highlighting the human side of war beyond mere heroism or villainy.

The pacing of the novel is impeccable, with each chapter building suspense and propelling the narrative forward. Altsheler seamlessly weaves historical events and real-life figures into the story, providing readers with an engaging blend of fiction and nonfiction. As the city braces for its inevitable fall, the tension and anticipation mount steadily, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the final pages.

However, despite the book's many strengths, there are a few instances where the prose may become overly descriptive, momentarily slowing down the pacing of the story. While Altsheler's attention to historical accuracy is commendable, at times, it feels as though certain details could have been trimmed to maintain a more streamlined narrative.

In conclusion, Before the Dawn is an impressive historical novel that vividly captures the fall of Richmond. Joseph Alexander Altsheler's captivating storytelling and meticulous research bring this crucial moment in American history to life. Though occasionally weighed down by excessive description, the book remains an engaging and immersive read, offering readers a unique perspective on the final days of the Confederacy.

First Page:

Before the Dawn

A Story of the Fall of Richmond




Copyright, 1903, by Doubleday, Page & Company Published April, 1903


The Sun of Saratoga A Soldier of Manhattan A Herald of the West The Last Rebel In Circling Camps In Hostile Red The Wilderness Road My Captive

For the rhyming pun, given by a member of The Mosaic Club, and quoted in the third chapter of this book, the author is indebted to T. C. DeLeon's " Four Years in Rebel Capitals ."



I. A Woman in Brown 3

II. A Man's Mother 16

III. The Mosaic Club 25

IV. The Secretary Moves 40

V. An Elusive Face 52

VI. The Pursuit of a Woman 71

VII. The Cottage in the Side Street 83

VIII. The Pall of Winter 97

IX. Robert and Lucia 117

X. Feeding the Hungry 131

XI. Mr. Sefton Makes a Confidence 137

XII. A Flight by Two 150

XIII. Lucia's Farewell 162

XIV. Prescott's Ordeal 170

XV... Continue reading book >>

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