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The horrifying stories of survival, the glimpses of hope, and the unwavering faith that freedom would come pervade my trove of family memories, and they shape my present ideas about the war and its relevance to me 150 years later.
On any given workday, the stretch of Georgia 9 that cuts north-south through Roswell is a four-lane wall of cars. Almost as old as the city itself, the thoroughfare was once little more than a dirt wagon path called the Atlanta Road, connecting this mill town to the burgeoning railroad hub some twenty miles south.
I’ve lived in the South for fourteen years—most of my adult life, it turns out—but because I wasn’t born here, or even raised here, I will never be considered of the South. My children will, however, and as they grow older I am curious to see how their consciousness and their identity are shaped by the legacy of this place. The joke (okay, the sad truth) about Atlanta is that there is no part of our history we won’t bulldoze over, but all the cranes and concrete and construction can never totally obscure the psychic fallout of what happened here 150 years ago, when the Battle of Atlanta presaged the end of the Confederacy.
Nineteen years have passed since Charles McNair published his first novel, Land O’ Goshen. While McNair climbed the corporate communications ladder and helped raise a daughter, the publishing world changed dramatically, but the art of storytelling did not.