Author and screenwriter, Jack McGuire, offers readers a page-turning work of historical fiction in Joining Up, telling the tale of two young boys, Bobby and Will, who escape from Saint John’s orphanage and Gingrich, the “sallow-faced headmaster who should have been a prison guard,” to join the ranks of Brooklyn’s Red Legged Devils of the 14th regiment. The runaways embark on a quest to find the Fourteenth, which takes them to Pennsylvania, spurred on by the heroism of the Fourteenth.
McGuire offers a powerful memorialization to the Fourteenth regiment, echoing the words of William Burleigh, his story ensures that history will never forget the dauntless regiment; “The gallant Fourteenth forget them not: our gallant boys who, for the nation’s life, stood amid the battle grime and noise and were baptized in its flames and blood!” Along the way, the boys encounter Scalawag muleskinner, Dinky Dolan, an Irishman of whom they are not sure what to make, but cannot help but be amused by his antics, and his black teenage cohort, Daniel. After they are persuaded to join up with his wagon train, the snaggle-toothed muleskinner convinces them to sign the “Dolan papers,” mixing their blood together in the signing of the contract, binding them to him until Harper’s Ferry, carrying grave threats and consequences if they do not comply. The boys are taken on the adventure of a lifetime and when they finally don the “Union Blue” that they have so ardently pursued throughout the novel, the Union Army and the Confederate Army are about to engage in the battle that would change the tides of the war and the course of history, The Battle of Gettysburg.
The story is a powerful reminder of the courage and valor of the Fourteenth regiment, told by a Brooklyn-born Civil War history buff, interweaving historical facts with an exciting tale. By fictionalizing possible conversations between the great names of history and those who fought for our country, readers are offered a new perspective on the tales of the Civil War, bringing the events of the war to vivid life as the plot unfolds.
Joining Up is a profile of American life during the Civil War times, showcasing different subsets of society, from the harsh headmaster who has a soft spot for war heroes, allowing Captain Andrew Whelan to visit his brother, Will, on a day that is not designated for visiting, allowing “exceptions for the army,” illuminating the reverence to which the army was held, to the simplistic life of the Dutch Amish in Pennsylvania, and the life of the Union Army, told through the story of Andrew.
McGuire artfully synthesizes the various factions of American society to portray life during the Civil War, adding a human element to the events of our nation’s history. Joining Up is the ideal book for anyone who enjoys history, an adventure, or a well-told story, providing readers with the riveting account of Bobby, Will, and Andrew as they fight for justice.
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