Book Reviews
HAWK MacKINNEY Author - Public Speaker
Site content property of Hawk MacKinney - Copyright  2017    All rights reserved
MOCCASIN TRACE Historical Romance    Nominated for... The Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and  The Writers Notes Book Award
Printed Version: 300 pages Kindle Version: Available Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing (August 1, 2006) Language: English ISBN-10: 15-95071482 ISBN-13: 978-1595071484
Moccasin Trace is at heart a tender love story with a generous dollop of military history and commentary about war and its leaders. In 1859, Hamilton Ingram of Moccasin Hollow and Sarah Greer of Wisteria Bends, passionate young lovers residing on neighboring plantations in a region of Georgia somewhere between Augusta and Macon, become engaged and are looking forward to their grand wedding. They "jump the gun," but no one notices-- or so they think. They don't realize the seriousness of the winds of "secesh," blowing from Washington City to Charlestown, and their families get caught up in the path to war. The main story is how they and their love manage to survive the war's devastation and desolation, as well as their personal losses. The strength of the book lies in its description of the war's effect on farmers and on commerce, on ports and harbors, something that is dry in history books, but comes alive in these pages. The conversations between the older men and their sons reveal various attitudes people had toward the upcoming secession and about their leaders, which may be relevant to the world today. The characters are well-drawn and likable, distinctive, strong, and even heroic. The dialogue is believable. This author is at his best in his wonderfully descriptive passages... Swarthy billows belched from the twin stacks, and settled out on the river. Dockside mooring lines cast off from the bollards splashed the water, dragging alongside, and the gangplank hoisted, swung inboard. Twin paddle wheels sloshed several lazy rotations; stopped; slowly churned in reverse; stopped again. The Harbor Pilot let her drift away from the dock. She took to the river; the current swung the bow...and the city slipped astern. A white egret winged its way over the syrupy water. Settled ahead of them down-river among the tall regal cypress trees, that seemed to be wading through the lush undergrowth along the banks. MacKinney has a distinctive style which has a charm of its own. Sometimes it tends to keep the reader outside the story rather than inside, but that's okay; it's recognized way of writing. Moccasin Trace is an entertaining and informative addition to the War of Northern Aggression bookshelf. Mr. MacKinney, author and public speaker, is a former Navy commander and professor and lives near the area described in this book. Anne Lovett, News Magazine Georgia Writers Association "One of the most engaging and brilliantly crafted historical works since Margaret Mitchell's great classic." Barbara Casey Author: Shyla’s Initiative, The Coach's Wife, The House of Kane, Just Like Family and Cadence of Gypsies President, The Barbara Casey Agency Moccasin Trace is part love story, part family saga and part Civil War History. Set in East Georgia in 1859 and going through 1864. Moccasin Trace is a gripping novel that brings the era to life. It will make you laugh and cry and feel that you have lived through that turbulent period. Moccasin Trace is historical fiction well worth the time it takes to read it. Fran Bush Booklovers Bookstore, Aiken SC One of our best selling titles -- ArcheBooks Publishing Inc. The love story and family saga captures the rhythm of plantation life and longings in the Civil War South... details are finely nurtured in language that feels like poetry... a history buff's delight! Author, Myra Hargrave McIlvain One of the best books I have read this year. Wonderful book--a must read. Reviewer, Kenneth Cranmore, Atlanta GA Hamilton Ingram worships the young Sarah Greer of the next plantation in eastern Georgia in the summer of 1859. As the looming war creeps upon the community, dividing friends in philosophy, young Hamilton struggles with his own decisions of loyalty. The neighboring families share generations of tradition and closeness. As war breaks out, the young couple marry and find greater challenges await them. The families face the difficulties of war and hardship while attempting to survive on war torn land. A well-crafted novel of the effects of war sweeping over the South. The effective use of dialect brings the story even closer to the reader. Very good characterization--highly recommended. Review by Billie Clements Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium Reviewers of Young Adult Literature Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library Childhood sweethearts growing up during Civil War time. Lots of research by Author. A romance, coming of age, Civil War, family and the list goes on. If you haven't read it add this one to your list!! A. Blake--Midwest
THE AVID READER  ( If you like reading and learning about the Civil War, two families that cared a lot for each other and also a boy and girl who…spent most of their lives with each other and ended up falling in love as adults, then I recommend Moccasin Trace. REVIEW from My Devotional Thoughts ( Moccasin Trace by Hawk MacKinney My rating: 5 of 5 stars When I first began reading, I knew I would like the book, but I wasn’t certain of the rating I would give it. I enjoyed the history, but it seemed rather typical in the beginning. I understood that the South was on the brink of war, but it seemed that no one was concerned. There was some minimal profanity (not worth mentioning), and there were some intimate scenes (no major details). Honestly, the discussion of sex within the book seemed rather misplaced. At least, that is what I initially thought. It has been some time since I have said this, but I am so glad that I persevered in this book with an open mind. In time, I discovered that the opening made sense. Of course the Southerners would have had more important things on their minds than an upcoming war. And the discussion of sex made me think that maybe sex before marriage did occur more often back during that period than I might have realized. I had never thought about this before. Perhaps the book deserved a 4-star rating. Well, as you can see, the book earned a 5-star rating! I appreciated that the author was realistic. He did not portray a romanticized view of the Civil War. Difficult things happened within the lives of the characters, and I truly connected with them. The ending left me somewhat hanging, but that is the author’s prerogative. My gratitude goes to the author for writing a book about the Civil War that was educational and certainly captivating.
REVIEW from STRAIGHT FROM THE LIBRARY Moccasin Trace, set around the time of the War Between the States, is the story of how the times affected two families. … What draws the reader in is the relationship between the characters…. A good read for fans of historical fiction.  It is clear (the author) has done his research and the discussions the men have about the upcoming war ring true to life.   My rating: 4 of 5 stars. REVIEW from IT’S RAINING BOOKS Moccasin Trace - It is the 1860s and the country is in turmoil. We've seen the big picture, but this novel is how those times affected not only the nation but the individual.  It begins after the war—times are harsh, people have been hardened and lost not only their belongings but a sense of who they were. It begins in near despair—then travels back in time to happier days and shows you how two once proud families came to the circumstances in which they find themselves. The author has done a wonderful job at recreating the times before the Civil War. Whenever men would gather, they would discuss politics and the changes they saw looming. Hotheads vied with those who urged a more guarded approach. And, behind them all stood the women—and it's in these characters Hawk MacKinney really stood out, creating some memorable characters... characters this reader came to care for deeply. Especially the two mother-figures in the novel—they are different yet the same in one very important way—their strength and their deeply rooted love for their family. There is a romance of a sort—but it's not the "omg are they going to get together" kind of story—when the novel starts, Hamilton and Sarah are already married. It is, instead, the poignant tale of how two people who love each other can come together after disaster hits. Even if you aren't normally a fan of Civil War era stories... give this one a try.     My rating: 4 of 5 stars. REVIEW from OUR WOLVES DEN The first chapter really caught my attention. I became thrown into a time of hardship, into a world that I never knew. The description of the devastation to the lives, the land, and the memories of families, especially focusing on Rundall, Sarah, and Hamilton. The book then reverts to a happier time, of wealth, growth, and promise. Hawk MacKinney has the amazing ability to describe scenery in such detail that you can live it in your mind with no effort. Two of my favorite characters were Corinthia Greer, she was a strong woman. I enjoyed her way of speaking her mind if needed and how she kept the family in line. The other character which stood out to me was their “slave” housekeeper {for lack of a better word}, she not only looked after the Greers but also the Ingrams. She was treated as well as one could ever be, her and her son. She was one of the most memorable for me, because of her way of thinking, her strong-will, and her caring ways. There is a lot of political banter between characters in this book…. But this was worth reading to fully understand the thoughts, fears, and actions of the time. Plus, the intricate details of everyday living, events, etc was well worth it. All in all I enjoyed the book. I learned from the pictures that the author was able to create through his writing. It also opened my eyes to the true reality that some of this could easily happen again, which is frightening. REVIEW from LONG & SHORT REVIEWS Charm marks MacKinney’s civil war-era romance: The charm of the south, the built-in, home grown sort of charm that happens in families that rely on one another, and among people who strive to maintain their own sense of self in such times. There is much here on the strength and gentility of specific personalities that have struggled through such a difficult time. Moccasin Trace is full of the sense of old time southern flavor–war torn and struggling, but somehow still sweet. Conversations, from tone to choice of language help create an aura of ‘old time south.” Hamilton and his lovely Sarah are our main characters, and both are refreshingly human. They are nice people, obviously attracted, but also, human and flawed. They aren’t the sort of characters, nor have they the sort of relationship, that keeps one madly turning the page, but they are interesting, if a bit precious. Although the story ‘starts’ in 1865, events can happen at different times: more than once I was confused as to whether I was reading something that had happened, or was looking forward to something that was going to. This story is both their marriage and their courtship, and there’s no concern on giving away the romance, as it sets off with them married. They run in to their share of troubles, and that is the more unpredictable piece. In this work, oddly enough, some secondary characters are greater and more appealing than the main characters. The wisdom of Corinthia shines through whenever she appears, and her voice seems so authentic. “Although my place is here, I can’t put away thoughts of other mothers and daughters weeping for sons and loved ones and husbands they may never hold again. It’s the same dread I felt when you had whooping cough. That whole dreadful night Bessie and I sat up praying for you…” And author MacKinney has a deft hand with humor as well, and makes the most of a turn of phrase (For example: We don’t want you mopin’ like some cow off its feed. from Bessie, who has a whole different slant on Wisdom.) Those interested in the era will find this book heartwarming. REVIEW from HOPE, DREAMS, LIFE...LOVE. I enjoyed a glimpse into everyday life in another century. We get to see the South both before and after the war. MacKinney carries readers to balls, masquerades, hunts, and other social events, even a honeymoon. We take a lot of things for granted today, but he showed how bad transportation was, and of course people couldn't listen to daily news to find out how the war was going. I was also interested in his description of the ladies' clothes. Making them by hand was much harder than going to the department store. Some things don't change, though. People still love their families, hold political opinions, and try to be true to their principles. I was interested in the characters' take on the war. They decided that slavery was not the real issue of the war, but it was a good excuse to rile people to action. And speaking of slavery, I'm not sure what to think about that. One of the slaves said she loved the white children of her masters as much as she did her own son, and when her son ran away, the master didn't put out any runaway slave notices. I'm just not sure that's realistic in most cases. A couple of things irritated me. The dialect slowed the book down for me, and since presumably the rich plantation owners were educated people, I found their vocabulary to be somewhat lacking. I also don't know how closely young ladies of wealthy families were chaperoned, but these characters had the freedom to sneak off and share intimacy before marriage. Overall, though, I enjoyed this look into a vanished world and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. This little snippet is a good example of what I'm talking about. In the muggy morning bright sun Hamilton made his way through the fragrance of steamy horse manure, leaky turpentine kegs, open bales of mildewed cotton, and the rankness of where dock-hands and vagrants had relieved themselves. The docks were one milling multitude of shirtless, cussin’ teamsters off-loading cargo from wagons onto several steamers, while a company of uniforms boarded through one forward gangway. Beautiful, isn't it?
REVIEWED By Karen Pirnot for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars If you're looking for a good historical fiction read, pick up a copy of Moccasin Trace by Hawk MacKinney. In this novel set in Georgia in the 1860s, we get an in-depth look at two plantations. Wisteria Bend is a traditional slave plantation with proud owner Andrew Greer, his wife Corinthia, daughter Sarah, and son Ben in charge. Their house slave Bessie and her son Sam are considered part of the family and, indeed, oftentimes have a great deal to say in interpersonal decision-making. Then there is Moccasin Hollows, with its owner widowed Rundell Ingram and his strapping young son Hamilton. Best friends, Andrew and Rundell have divergent opinions when South Carolina secedes from the Union. Andrew helps to form a militia while Rundell and Hamilton busy themselves attempting to protect the land which they feel will soon be inundated by Yankees. Hamilton and Sarah form a permanent bond between the families when they marry. It is a bond that will carry them through tragedy and commitment. Even though I felt the story was a bit slow in developing, I did love the research that went into the authentic plot. All of the characters were marvelous, but I particularly loved the way author MacKinney portrayed Corinthia, a traditional Southern mistress. His chapter on Corinthia meeting the Union Soldiers was one of those pieces of writing that stays with you because of its simple dignity. It is the poignant accounting of an individual who knows the past is gone and the future is uncertain. Nobody really wanted what happened in the war between the states and this book portrays how the traditional South yielded to the inevitability of history.
REVIEWED by A. Blake – 5 Stars Childhood sweethearts growing up during Civil War time. Lots of research by Author. A romance, coming of age, Civil War, family and the list gos on. If you haven't read it add this one to your list!!
REVIEWED by Richard Lee – 5 Stars I looked up this book after I heard Hawk give a radio interview on the Jack & Rod Show. First, I am a sucker for historical love stories (of course not counting the Pearl Harbor movie.) When I heard him explaining how George Bush was like Abe Lincoln, I knew that this gentleman must really know his stuff. I suppose you could also include Jefferson Davis in this, because all 3 of these men got caught up in events….He was definitely correct to say that the founding documents in our constitution did set things up. Anyway, a really terrific book from a great author. I hope he goes back on the Jack & Rod Show to promote his next book; that way, we can have our whole book club pick up copies again.