Duty and Dishonor

Written by Shaun Ivory
Review by Richard Tearle

Conor O’Farrell, born en route to America from Ireland, is our hero in this first part of a series entitled America Made Me. When he is sixteen, he volunteers for the Union army – lying about his age – and, following basic training, soon sees action. Suddenly he is a hero, but is wounded and is sent to recuperate at a hospital where he encounters President Abraham Lincoln. At first things go well for him, but is then accused of spying by the sadistic Allan Pinkerton. Conor, now in his late teens, is a fugitive…

This a well told tale, excellent characterisations and precise dialogue. But I had a problem: when one reads what are effectively memoirs of a totally fictional character, we are aware that the character will die someday, though we do not normally how and when. Unfortunately, the author gives us both of these details in his prologue and I rather found this off-putting; I would much rather have read of his adventures in this volume and the, quote “several” unquote, to follow without this prior knowledge.

Despite this niggle,  this is a thoroughly enjoyable book.