The Burning Land

Title: The Burning Land
Published by: Knox Press
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Pages: 300
ISBN13: ‎ 978-1637587126
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In 1860, Henry Overstreet, a young boat-builder on the Maine coast, falls hard for lively Katie Nash, whose family obligations have deferred her hopes to teach school.  Initially surprised by Katie's anti-slavery feelings, then by the explosions of the Civil War, Henry enlists in the 20th Maine Infantry, rising to sergeant in a regiment that will become legendary through a dozen bloody fights, including the pivotal defense of Little Round Top at the battle of Gettysburg.  Katie wins short-term teaching contracts while organizing local women to make socks and blankets for local men in the army.  Quiet, intimate letters between military camp and home front steadily bring the lovers to a hurried wedding and a few precious days together as man and wife.

But the world piles adversity on top of setbacks for Henry and Katie, bringing a ghastly battlefield wound, a long recuperation, and a never-resolved argument over whether to make their lives in Maine or join the pell-mell rush for new lives and opportunities in the West. Finally transplanted to booming Chicago, little goes right for their young family in the overnight metropolis, testing Henry and Katie's strength and commitment as never before.

"[T]he comedy and horror of war made real -- a testament to Stewart's strengths as an historian and storytellers . . . Stewart’s recreation of the battle is authentic and bloody . . . Stewart’s deft touch reveals both the physical and psychological changes wrought by war . . . Stewart thrillingly recreates another historic event — the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 . . . surprising readers with unexpected twists and heartrending developments. . . For a true-to-life story with idelible characters set during the American Civil War -- and the transformative years afer -- this fits the bill in spades."

--The Washington Independent Review of Books


“An intimate, sweeping portrait of a country and couple divided, David O. Stewart’s The Burning Land does what all good historical fiction should do: gives us characters to root for and brings the past so vividly to life it feels like the present. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the trilogy unfolds.”

Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln and
The Pale Blue Eye

The Burning Land is an elegantly written, heartrending evocation of a Maine family's suffering during the Civil War and its aftermath. The battle scenes are riveting, the characters convincingly and compellingly developed. As a Civil War historian, I highly recommend David O. Stewart’s marvelous novel.”

Peter Cozzens, author of The Earth is Weeping: The Epic
Story of the Indian Wars for the American West


“David O. Stewart has written many books, but this may be his best: a gripping Civil War novel, set in coastal Maine and with the famous Twentieth Maine Regiment, followed by an exciting account of post-war Chicago. This is a book you won’t want to miss.”

Walter Stahr, author of bestselling biographies of
William Seward, Edwin Stanton, and Salmon P. Chase


“In The Burning Land, David O. Stewart has vividly brought alive the landscapes and human spirit of Civil War era America from the hardscrabble coast of Maine, through the battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania, to the chaotic postwar scramble to survive in the burgeoning city of Chicago. To the generational drama of the tenacious Overstreet family, Mr. Stewart brings a historian’s feel for the ways in which ordinary lives were shaped by extraordinary times, enriched by an unerring eye for authentic detail and page-turning prose.”

Fergus Bordewich, author of Congress At War: How
Republican Reformers Fought the Civil War, Defied Lincoln,
Ended Slavery, and Remade America
David O. Stewart chronicles the joys, heartbreaks, triumphs, struggles, perseverance, and downright guttiness of the American people through the Civil War and the nation's rebuilding.  The characters shine through and quickly felt like friends and acquaintances. The writing transported me to Maine villages, Virginia battlefields, and growing cities of a nation rediscovering itself.  I highly recommend The Burning Land to those interested in the American story and the people who created it.

  -- Alan R. Thompson, Author of In the Shdow of the Round Tops: Longstreet' Countermarch, Johnston's Reconnaissance, and the Enduring Battles for the Memory of July 2, 1863

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