The Perilous Road by William O. Steele
Chris is living with his family in the Eastern Tennessee mountains during The Civil War. Chris says he hates the union soldiers. He hates that they come and take what they want from farms. He hates this his neighbors didn’t do anything about it when the soldiers came and took their food. They say the soldiers were just hungry. Chris doesn’t think the Union soldiers need his sympathy, or anybody’s sympathy for that matter.
His brother joins the military to be a wagon driver. Chris finds out that a wagon train is coming through so he wants to warn the other side so there will be an encounter, so he tells a neighbor who says he is a spy. When Chris finds out there is an actual battle going on in the area, he takes off trying to find his brother, not thinking that his brother would still be in training.
When he gets to the battle, he encounters soldiers from the north, who treat him well and are suffering from the war just the same as anybody else and Chris feels he needs to rethink his position on the other side.
What I liked
I’m not a typical war person, but I’ve read a few novels set during The Civil War. This one wasn’t bad. Chris is being hard-hearted, just as many people tend to be when they think they’re on the right side of something. He finds out that things aren’t so black and white. Just because someone is fighting on the other side, doesn’t mean that they’re not human. They need the same things all humans need. They have the same feelings all humans have. People dying because of a war are people dying because of a war, it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.
I really liked that Chris’ eyes were opened. Just because someone is your enemy politically, doesn’t mean that they’re your personal enemy.
What I didn’t like
Chris’ attitude is all to common. Sometimes we tend to think that our opinion is the correct one and whoever thinks differently is our enemy, and therefore, evil. We don’t stop to consider that maybe both sides are correct in one way or the other, or, that our side is actually the evil side. If we believe something very intolerant and expound upon that belief as the correct one and consider anyone who is more tolerant to be evil, isn’t the more intolerant view the more evil view?
Chris was young and sometimes as younger people we tend to hold onto our “beliefs” as we consider them as if they’re immutable, when, in fact, our beliefs change and grow as we gain experiences in life. Chris did just that in this book.
It doesn’t matter what side you’re on; we’re all people.
Did you find that your younger self was too idealistic and strict in your views?
Is everybody the enemy on the other side?