Rating:

Reviewed by Erin McKibbin

Coming of age for any young man is a turbulent experience. Coming of age in the Union Army during the Civil War is even more tumultuous. Coming of age in the Civil War when the young man is Jewish is Herculean.

Jacob Rappaport joins the Union Army to escape the pre-ordained life laid out by his father. He agrees to become a spy and assassin for the Union Army to win the approval of his replacement fathers (the Army generals). But, can Jacob win his own approval and stop running from his past? Perhaps the love of a Confederate woman can teach Jacob the lessons that can’t be learned behind the butt of a rifle.

“There were approximately 130,000 Jews living in the United States in 1860” and “were dispersed throughout the nation, with the largest Jewish community in New York and the second largest in New Orleans.” In fact, some of the Civil War’s most prominent figures were members of these two Jewish communities. Dara Horn incorporates some of these historical people into the characters she created for All Other Nights. Judah Benjamin, the first Jewish Cabinet member in American history (and the second Jewish United States Senator), appeared in the book as himself, while Lottie Moon, Confederate spy with unusual talents, is split into two very riveting characters involved in Rappaport’s life.

Throughout the book, the characters were constantly faced with the difficult topics of slavery and prejudice and how these issues and actions played out in the moral compass inherent in the Jewish identity. Just as there were many Jews who were abolitionists, there were just as many who owned slaves and felt entitled to do so. And yet, both [amazonify]0393338320[/amazonify]celebrated the Passover feast (which deals with the history of the Jewish people escaping bondage) without guilt. Rappaport specifically is forced to confront his own culpability in the bondage of other humans and the guilt over the sins committed in the cause of freedom for all.

All Other Nights is a gripping tale that engages the reader to consider the ever perplexing relationship between father and child, the ethics of political strife, the morality of slavery and prejudice, and the loyalty of love and family.

Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature. She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer. Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

This book was provided free of any obligation by W. W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.