I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Young orphan Loyal Ledford leaves his job at a glass factory to join the Marines after Pearl Harbor. His experiences in Guadalcanal change him forever and he returns home a broken alcoholic plagued by recurring nightmares. Loyal manages to marry the sweetheart he left behind and decides to start a new life on some land owned by distant relatives. A dream tells him to build a marble factory and Loyal uses the opportunity to create a utopian community of blacks and whites working towards to a better life and civil rights. As the fledging community works to create a better world, their ideals of passive resistance and peaceful civil disobedience are challenged in ways they never expected.
I have been putting off reviewing this book because I don't really know how to describe it. To me, it is a male version of Stockett's THE HELP. While it wasn't the most pleasurable read, I find myself bringing it up in conversation over and over again and I can't stop thinking about.....often the hallmarks of a great read for me. While a good part of this book is about the civil rights struggles, I felt an important theme was the conflict between peaceful and violent resistance. The reader must decide along with Loyal whether or not there are times when violence is justified. The bok is incredibly moving and thought-provoking.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. This may be the best book I've read this year. Excellent character development and filled with challenging and interesting ideas. A great conversation starter that will stay with you for a long time.