Jim Mundy
Robert H. Fowler
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Buy *Jim Mundy* online Jim Mundy

Robert H. Fowler
Stealth Press
Hardcover (reprint)
424 pages
October 2000
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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In October of 1861, Jim Mundy and the other young Confederate soldiers marching off to fight in the Civil War believed the Yankees would be whipped before Christmas. The whole reason Jim joined up when he did was because he was afraid the war would be over if he waited too long. Like most of the enlisted men, Jim's family was poor and didn't own any slaves. But that didn't stop him and the others from wanting to fight.

Curled Up With a Good BookIf determination and valor were enough to win a war, then by all accounts the South should have won, especially with soldiers like Jim Mundy. Told through his words, we experience the elation of early victories and the devastation of later defeats. With Jim, we also learn about specific battles, field hospitals, army prisons, and blockade running, all of the major features of the War Between the States.

First published in 1977 by Harper & Row, Jim Mundy was reissued by Stealth Press twenty-three years later and includes a preface by author Robert H. Fowler. Fowler is a man who knows his Civil War facts, having been the founder and publisher of Civil War Times Illustrated. Still, in his preface, he describes the six rules of writing Civil War novels, submitted to him by his magazine's book editor. In short, they are (1) avoid a modern style; (2) be one-sided, partisan and sectional; (3) let your protagonist be a person of responsibility, awareness and understanding; (4) describe not one battle, but many; (5) be historically accurate; and (6) keep the women out of it. Fowler strictly abides by rules 1-4. Using moderate dialect, Jim Mundy's voice is believable and rhythmic, as he relates actual events from an obvious but often sympathetic Southern point of view.

Fowler admits to a few historical inaccuracies. He puts Jim in a town that wasn't founded until after the war, and Jim refers once to his officers as "the brass," a term that was not used until World War I. And Fowler does include women. In fact, throughout most of Jim Mundy's worst experiences, his driving force is his girlfriend, Jane, whom he believes is waiting back home for him in North Carolina. However, while the name Jane Ferro appears throughout the book, therefore making her seem like a major character to us, she, in fact, appears in the story so little that we don't really get to know her. It leaves one wondering why a southern belle from a rich, slave-owning family would fall so quickly in love with a poor minister's son after just one meeting. This is a flaw with writing the story from a first person point-of-view. But to change that by taking the story out of Jim's hands and giving it to an omniscient narrator, floating above the landscape from battle to battle and side to side, would destroy the novel, leaving us with nothing more than a history text.

Despite these minor, and for most readers, unnoticeable flaws, Jim Mundy the book and Jim Mundy the character both are as enjoyable as they are forthright, telling a credible story of the Civil War in all its severity.

© 2001 by April Galt for Curled Up With a Good Book

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