October 11, 1864. The Civil War rages on in Kentucky, where
Union and Confederate loyalties have turned neighbors into enemies
and once-proud soldiers into drifters, thieves, and outlaws.
Stephen Gano Burbridge, radical Republican and military commander
of the district of Kentucky, has declared his own war on this new
class of marauding guerrillas, and his weekly executions at
Louisville's public commons draw both crowds and widespread
criticism. In this time of fear and division, a Kentucky journalist
created a legend: Sue Mundy, female guerrilla, a "she-devil" and
"tigress" who was leading her band of outlaws across the state in
an orgy of greed and bloodshed. Though the "Sue Mundy" of the
papers was created as an affront to embarrass Union authorities,
the man behind the woman -- twenty-year-old Marcellus Jerome Clarke
-- was later brought to account for "her" crimes. Historians have
pieced together clues about this orphan from southern Kentucky
whose idealism and later disillusionment led him to his fate, but
Richard Taylor's work of imagination makes this history flesh -- an
exciting story of the Civil War told from the perspective of one of
its most enigmatic figures. Sue Mundy opens in 1861, when
fifteen-year-old Jerome Clark, called "Jarom," leaves everyone he
loves -- his aunt, his adopted family, his sweetheart -- to follow
his older cousin into the Confederate infantry. There, confronted
by the hardships of what he slowly understands is a losing fight,
Jarom's romanticized notions of adventure and heroism are crushed
under the burdens of hunger, sleepless nights, and mindless
atrocities. Captured by Union forces and imprisoned in Camp Morton,
Jarom makes a daring escape, crossing the Ohio River under cover of
darkness and finding refuge and refreshed patriotic zeal first in
Adam R. Johnson's Tenth Kentucky Calvary, then among General John
Hunt Morgan's infamous brigade. Morgan's shocking death in 1864
proves a bad omen for the Confederate cause, as members of his
group of raiders scatter -- some to rejoin organized forces,
others, like Jarom, to opt for another, less civilized sort of
warfare. Displaced and desperate for revenge, Jarom and his band of
Confederate deserters wreak havoc in Kentucky: a rampage of
senseless murder and thievery in an uncertain quest to inflict
punishment on Union sympathizers. Long-locked and clean-shaven,
Jarom is mistakenly labeled female by the media -- but Sue Mundy is
about more than the transformation of a man into a woman, and then
a legend. Ironically, Sue Mundy becomes the persona by which
Jarom's darkest self is revealed, and perhaps redeemed.
The University Press of Kentucky
|Country of origin:
||229 x 152 x 31mm (L x W x T)
Genre fiction >
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