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All Other Nights    by Dara Horn order for
All Other Nights
by Dara Horn
Order:  USA  Can
W. W. Norton, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

This story about the Civil War is a bit different because the main characters are all Jewish. At least one of them, Judah P. Benjamin, is a historical figure. But we are concerned with Jacob Rappoport, a young northerner who manages to become a spy and wreck two southern families, the Hyams and the Levys.

Dara Horn depicts the fraught life of a Jew at that time. In the South, the irony of a Passover seder being served by slaves is as richly documented as the insults northern Jewish citizens had to hear from the prejudiced of that time. Jacob, whose family life was not that happy, thinks that a greater goal, serving his country, will give some meaning to his existence. This aspiration in the horrific time of civil war leads him to commit acts that he immediately recognizes as cruel and unforgivable. Severely wounded, upon his rehabilitation, he tries for redemption. It is a painful process.

This story might have been more powerful had we been able to get beyond Jacob's perspective. For example, it would have been interesting to know more about what the Levy family was thinking about him. Despite this, author Horn has given us a unique perspective of the South at its darkest hour, and there is some wonderful writing: 'The old burial ground was an island of silence and solitude rising above the burning city, the blaze enveloping only mortal habitations, and the ever-growing mob committed to terrorizing only the living.'

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