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McNair’s prose begins thin and lapping, then gradually builds like a hurricane crescendo that carries the reader on a whitewater crest toward a conclusion that is as unexpected as it is dreadful.

From the top of that mountainous wave of skillfully drawn landscapes, familiarly detailed characters, and painfully wrought human interactions, we get a glimpse, through Threadgill’s last steps on earth, of what might have been, had Threadgill--had all the Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs of the world--chosen to throw a barbecue instead of launch a Civil War.

Pickett's Charge by Charles McNair ($18.95, Livingston Press), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.