Friday, February 3, 2023

Spotlight of The Roads of War by John Cameron


The Roads of War exposes the authenticity of battle—the hardships, the struggle, and the yearning for tranquility. 
Interesting Reading:
February 3, 2023


"Dr. Cameron transports the reader back in time. His authentic tenacity for showcasing and highlighting the little details, makes The Roads of War an intelligent read. A highly recommended Civil War exploration!"—DAVID CASCIO, AUTHOR OF FROGFLYER 


GENRE: Historical Fiction | Military Fiction

PUBLICATION DATE: April 26, 2022

SHOP: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & other retailers

WHOLESALE: Ingram and TouchPoint Press

RETAIL PRICE: eBook ($4.99), Paperback ($15.99)

PAGE COUNT: 213 pages



During the Civil War, Lewis McCormack has to return to his regiment’s training camp, leaving his wife Eliza to tend to their homestead.

Rearing children, surviving a declining economy, and paying the family debts leads to intolerable hurdles and even more difficult decisions.

Amid the chaos of war, Lewis just wants to stay alive—to make it back to his  family.

Meanwhile, Private Davey Morris is detailed as courier and travels through war-torn Pennsylvania to complete his mission, while Private  Tandy Strider uses his thirty-day wounded furlough to search for the young prostitute that he has deemed his soulmate.

As the war progresses, Lewis realizes that his soul has hardened—and deep inside, he only feels emptiness. 

Will Lewis make it through the war?

And when he returns, in what state will he find his family? Will they even survive?

In a raw, realistic narrative, The Roads of War exposes the authenticity of battle—the hardships, the struggle, and the yearning for tranquility. John Cameron weaves a true-to-life quilt of human emotion, universal tribulation--and the power of love. 



What does the process of researching a historical novel entail for you?

I first make certain of the overall political structure of the time. What is far more
crucial, however, is to understand everyday life. 

This may require reading letters or newspapers from the time—anything that lets me avoid putting modern concepts into the minds and mouths of my characters. 

Familiar words often meant something very different in the past. 

Nothing kills a historical novel faster than toilet paper or a zipper in the 18th century.

Your previous book was also centered around the Civil
War. What about that era intrigues you?

The Civil war was the great American tragedy resulting from the failure of the
founding fathers to end the evil of slavery in 1789. 

As a result of that failure, three quarters of a million men died, and an entire region of the US was destroyed and pushed into abject poverty. 

I am especially interested in understanding how thousands of poor southern men were convinced to fight a war that could only have benefited the rich. 

Never forget the tragedy was compounded by the fact that despite ending slavery little was done to enable the formerly enslaved to lead good, productive lives. 

In the end the same rich men who brought on the war were left in control.

Who are some authors that have had an impact on your writing style?

I will only mention two. 

First, Gore Vidal in his novel Burr who did a masterful job of portraying the personal rivalries of the early American Republic. 

The undisputed master of historical fiction was Patrick O’Bryant.

He created a complete world in twenty-three novels which combined make up one nearly perfect picture of early 19th century English society at all levels.

There is never a misstep in clothing, transportation, social mores, food, or attitudes.

What does the future of your writing career look like?

I am happy that TouchPoint Press will soon publish The Price of Freedom, my novel of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. 

I am currently writing two series of novels set in the 18th century. 

The André Ricard Mystery series focuses on a lawyer and crime investigator in Marseilles in the 1770s.

The Scent of the Maquis is a projected trilogy about the great Corsican patriot Pasquale Paoli and his interactions with the Bonaparte family.




The War’s Gonna be Over in Six Months.
Lewis McCormack picked up the old horseshoe lying next to the water trough and smashed the thick ice so the animals could drink. With each swing of his arm, he grew angrier.

Where the devil is Henry? Should’ve been out here before dawn. Lazy as hell... and Eliza...what in the name of God is wrong with that woman?

By 10 o’clock the night before, the children were in bed, their covers piled high against the cold as he and Eliza sat in the kitchen where the fireplace still threw some heat.
Lewis had planned for his last night home to be one of love and sweetness, but Eliza started in on him as soon as the children were out of the room.

“You’ve done enough. Let the others take a turn. A thirty-five-year-old man ought to be home. Let young ones with no family go.”

“Damn it. I signed up for twelve months, not five months. And a man’s age don’t matter.

We all gotta do our part. I’m not the only one this old. Flynn Farrington is thirty-six.”

“That don’t matter to me. You could pay a substitute to finish out them twelve months.

That’d do your part. You must like being down there. You’ll never be back. The Yankees’ll kill you, and your children will be orphans, and I don’t think you ca“Goddamn it, Eliza. We been over all this before.” Lewis struggled not to yell. “You know I gotta go back. Leave it alone. Damn, you; just leave it alone."

Eliza glared at him silently. When they went to bed thirty minutes later, she lay as far to her side as she could manage.
Lewis wanted a sweet love session to remember over the next months. Who knew when he’d be back again? Maybe never. Maybe he’d be killed, but when he put a hand on Eliza’s shoulder, she pulled away.

Well, be damned then, he thought. I’ll find some in Wilmington when I get back down there. Even as he thought it, he knew, he’d never do that. But damn the woman. Why did she have to be this way? 
He remembered the first time he left for the war. Eliza had wept and shouted at him, but that night, she pulled him inside herself like she would never let him go. And now, this time, she was cold as the wind outside on that first of January.

Standing next to the water trough the next morning, Lewis realized he had smashed the ice into small pieces. Get on with it, he thought. There’s a lot to do here, and I’ve gotta be at Swann’s Station before that train comes from Egypt. Where in hell is Henry? Lazy, worthless man. I oughtta take a whip to him. Lewis shook his head. He had never taken a whip to Henry and never would, any more than he’d find a whore in Wilmington. He had no use for a man who would whip his slave—or one who’d pay for sex. But both sure were tempting and good to think about. He’d have to go bang on the door of Henry’s cabin. As he turned that way, he saw Henry come out of his door.

Henry walked slowly across the yard, slapping his hands together for warmth and scattering the chickens, ducks, and guinea hens hunting for insects and seeds.

“Morning, Suh."Morning, Henry. Get going. We need to be on that wagon rolling in an hour. When you get the critters fed and Mo hitched, come on to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee.”

Lewis stepped around the barn to the outhouse. Damn that plank was cold. He hurried back to the house, straight to the kitchen and some warmth.

Eliza didn’t look at him or say a word. I’ll keep my mouth shut too, Lewis thought. But the fireplace was blazing, and Lewis could smell sausage and biscuits cooking. Best of all, he smelled coffee. Real coffee—not that damn burnt wheat that passed for coffee nowadays.

He had brought six pounds of beans with him ten days earlier. Paid four times what it should’ve cost, but he bought it, wanted Eliza to have some.

He went to the bedroom, a good thirty degrees colder than the kitchen, gathered up his knapsack and great coat, and came back to the kitchen. He set his coat and bag with his hat next to the door. Then, he poured himself a mug of coffee and sat.
As he sipped the coffee, he considered giving Eliza a hug to break this ice, but before he decided, she put a plate in front of him piled with sausage, biscuits, and grits. She turned away without a word.

So be it, he thought. He reached for the molasses pot and poured a puddle on top of one of the biscuits.

Just as he sopped up the last of the molasses with the last biscuit, Henry came in. Eliza handed him a mug of coffee and two biscuits. Now Lewis couldn’t say anything to Eliza.

Wouldn’t do to let Henry see them fight.

“Henry, bring Mo on up here to the house. You got my coup and box on the wagon?”“Yas, Suh. Both in the back.” Henry made no motion to leave. It was cold outside.

“Go on. then. We gotta get moving.”
Henry set his mug on the table, wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, and went out.

Before Lewis could speak, Eliza called out, “Children, come in here and tell Pap goodbye.”

She still had not looked at Lewis.

The children must have been awake, under the covers, for both were in the kitchen within seconds. Each gave their father a hug, said bye, and turned toward the fireplace for food and warmth.
Through the window, Lewis could see Henry and the wagon. He put on his great coat, picked up his bag, and turned to Eliza. She stood next to the door, tears streaming down her face. She embraced him and whispered, “May God protect you. I can’t live without you.”

Lewis walked directly to the wagon, three geese honking at him. He paid no attention to the geese or the two dogs who jumped up. He said nothing to Henry, just sat on the plank and pulled his coat tight. He was afraid if he opened his mouth, he’d cry like Eliza. That would not do. Henry gave a click with his tongue and a light flick of the reins. Mo started walking out of the barn yard, three hundred yards alongside a field, and onto the sandy road that led southeast, toward the railroad. All of Lewis’s anger and sadness at leaving coalesced like iron shavings to a magnet around those plodding mule steps.

“This goddamned mule is too old and too slow. I think I’ll sell him and get a young one.”Henry didn’t bother to respond. He’d heard Lewis say that before.

Mo was twelve years old but had always been slow. He was also one of the ugliest mules alive—short, scrawny, with patchy black hair, and slightly sway-backed with a thin tail.
But, unlike most mules, he was gentle and patient. Never known to kick, bite, or buck if a child rode him. He never protested when hitched to the singletree pulling the wagon or plow. Truth was, Lewis would no more sell Mo than he’d sell Henry.

They were on a road more traveled than in years past. It led past Mr. Neil Swann’s plantation, where it crossed the newly constructed Western Railroad that ran from Egypt and the Deep River coal mine in Chatham County to Fayetteville and the Cape Fear River.

Mr. Swann had put up a building that served as a general store and railroad depot. A man could now ride in a railway carriage all the way to Fayetteville, conduct his business, and be back home the same day.

Neither Lewis nor Henry had much to say for the first part of the trip; they were caught up in thinking about other times they had traveled this same road past the dead white oak tree that marked the corner of a field belonging to Lewis’ friend, Flynn Farrington. While both had traveled the same road, they had very different memories of it.
Henry had followed the road many times both with Mr. McCormack and alone after dark when white folks wouldn’t notice. There was a woman on the Swann plantation he liked to play around with. Mostly though, his good friend Ajax was there. From Ajax, who could read, Henry learned about the world outside Moore County. He heard about a man named Lincoln who talked about ending slavery. That railroad might just be a road to freedom.


John Cameron was a historian who wrote about the American Civil and Revolutionary Wars and 18th-century France. 

Cameron’s nonfiction book, Tar Heels in Gray, was published in 2021. His first historical novel, The Roads of War, was published in 2022 by TouchPoint Press. 

Cameron grew up in the Sand Hills of North Carolina, where many generations of his Scottish-American ancestors lived. 

He spent every summer working in tobacco fields until he went away to college. 

At Davidson College, he studied history and then attended graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill, specializing in 18th-century France and the Revolution. 

His novel about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, The Price of Freedom, will be published posthumously in 2023.



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  1. Adding to your TBR?

    Thanks for stopping.

  2. Mystica VarathapalanFebruary 4, 2023 at 3:57 AM

    Sounds an interesting emotional read