Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness Written by J. Arthur Moore and Bryson B. Brodzinski Created by Bryson B. BrodzinzkiWhen the Civil War broke, Blake Bradford’s dad volunteered to go to war, but he was killed by a young Union soldier. Blake, grieving, decided to avenge his father by going to war himself and killing that Union soldier. Lying about his age, he joined the army to be their drummer and started his quest to find the youth who took his father away from him. What Blake didn’t expect was the humanity and kindness of the soldiers who were in the war. When Blake finds this soldier, will he still be able to kill him in Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness by J. Arthur Moore.

Blake’s Story is a wonderful tale of compassion and sympathy in a time when kindness is a costly commodity because they are at war. The scene where Blake and his dad’s killer figured out each other’s identity was the best scene in the whole book. The characters, especially Blake and the soldiers he made friends with in the Union army, are nice and likable people. They were portrayed and described well and were convincing. From the beginning, I wondered how Blake was going to find the young soldier who killed his father and what he was going to do once he found out. The conclusion of the story was not what I expected, but it was even better and I liked it very much. Viewing the war from a child’s perspective, a member of the army no less, gave me a new understanding of what really went on during the Civil War.

I met author Joel Moore (who writes under the name of J. Arthur Moore) at a recent mutual book signing at Irvin’s Books in York, PA. He graciously gave me a copy of his latest historical fiction book, Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness, which he co-wrote with Bryson B. Brodzinski.

Published in May 2014 by Xlibris, this new book tells the story of a Southern boy who learns of his father’s death at the bloody battle of Shiloh in the spring of 1862. In anguish, Blake Bradford wrestles with his shifting emotions and finally decides that he must take revenge on the Yankee who shot his father. He hopes to find him on a battlefield and kill him. Blake signs up for the 2nd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry and soon finds himself in the midst of the Kentucky Campaign serving under famed Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne (known as the “Stonewall of the West” for his martial and leadership abilities).

Wounded and taken prisoner at Perryville, Blake eventually befriends a young Union soldier, setting the stage for the main plot line of the book. Incidentally, the story’s genesis came from an idea from Moore’s 11-year old great-grandson!

The new book will appeal to young teenagers who are interested in learning a little more about the Civil War as seen through the eyes of one of their peers. Blake’s experiences are based upon extensive historical research and are rooted in the actual movements and actions of the regiments involved in the storyline. The book flows well and should be easy to read and comprehend for its intended teenage audience. Rated at four or five stars by various on-line reviewers, it would make a fine gift for the younger Civil War reader.

Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness can be obtained from the publisher, Xlibris, via their website (ISBN 978-1-49319-778-1). It is also for sale through and Barnes & Noble’s on-line catalog.

Often the back story of a book is as much of interest as the story itself. That is indeed the case here. Joel Moore is an author I have known for
some time. He is an interesting man, his passion is the civil war, but with a twist. The war is viewed through the eyes of children. His four book series Journey Into Darkness is a great example. While factually correct, he also weaves some fictional
characters into the books to help explain what that period of history must have been like. For Journey Into Darkness he uses a young drummer boy as his storyteller. It is a wonderful technique, history to many people is viewed as a dry and often boring subject. Joel Moore makes it an interesting journey of discovery.

Blake’s Story, Revenge And Forgiveness follows the same path, but in a very unique way. In real life Joel is very involved in the subject of the Civil War and considered by many a serious researcher. I certainly would not want to debate him on any aspect of the subject. He is also very much the educator. His love of the Civil War period is infectious, four of his students of the time are featured pictorially in Journey Into Darkness.

He has taken a further step with Blake’s Story, his co-author Bryson B. Brodzinski, is actually his 11-year-old Great Grandson.

Bryson in costume
Bryson in costume

It was Bryson who pitched the story outline to Joel. And Joel did the research and editing. The original plan was to evolve the story via Email, but
what 11 year old boy has time for that? Instead Bryson took finger to keyboard and presented Great Grandfather Joel with an outline of his idea.
Then the email started. I often ask authors where they get their inspiration from, but rarely is the answer an 11 year old boy.

It would be unfair and against my principles to share too much of the plot. However, I think it is only right and proper to share a snippet from the opening page.

Corinth, Miss.
April 9, 1862
Mrs. Micah Bradford
Bradford Plantation
Shelby, NC

Dear Madam,

During the battle at Shiloh our soldiers attacked a line of Union soldiers. Captain Micah Bradford was struck down by a federal soldier. He was struck in the head and died instantly. After the battle he was buried on the battlefield. We assure you that we will send his personal affects to the plantation.

I remain yours,

David H. Cummings, Col., 19th Tennessee

This was written by 11-year-old Bryson. He clearly has a gift for writing. If I was a gambling man, I think the world will see more of Bryson in the future. It is this letter that sends eleven-year-old Blake Bradford into war. Revenge would be to kill the man who killed his father.

Blake’s journey proves to be an interesting one, I think it would be fair to say that rarely is there a clear winner in a conflict, merely an outcome. I rather enjoyed Blake’s Story for that very reason, the difference between good and evil is a very fine line.

You can get your copy of Blake’s Story, Revenge And Forgiveness by clicking on the Amazon link above.

This one really tugs at the heart. I could imagine my son all the way through this story. I am a Civil War buff of sorts and am more interested in how it affected the everyday citizen rather than the details of the battles and the Generals, although that is important too in the overall history. To see in my mind what Blake (my great-grandson’s name BTW) was going through in the way of situation and the hardships involved allowed me to get closer to the real experience. This was a horrific war that reached out to every US citizen in some way but to see it through a child’s eyes was a very different experience and a very impressive one.

The reason for the 4 stars instead of 5 is the overall quality of the writing. I understand it was supposed to be Blake’s experience but I would like to have had more detail, I guess more story in essence.

This is really one to read if you have any interest in the Civil War. It gives insight into the real experience.