Michael O. Garvey (review date 20 March 1994)
SOURCE: "A Historical Novel Nearly Disorienting in Its Authenticity," in The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1994, p. L2.
[In the following review, Garvey praises Banished Children of Eve, calling it both "vividly imagined" and "scrupulously researched."]
It is an impressive illustration of the power of television advertising that most 18-year-old American boys now submit to the Selective Service system and to the blandishments of MTV with equal docility. The subservience urged and apparently secured by those annoying commercials would amaze and probably disgust their mid-19th-century counterparts.
During the summer of 1863, the nation's first federal conscription law was greeted with riots in towns and cities throughout the Union.
Even among the most enthusiastic supporters of the war effort, a passion for civil liberties overmatched the imperatives of military expediency. New York Gov. Horatio Seymour, in a Fourth of July speech that would haunt him for the rest of his political career—some historians insist that it guaranteed the failure of his presidential bid five years later—warned the administration: "Remember this, that the bloody, and treasonable, and revolutionary, doctrine of public necessity can be proclaimed by a mob as well as by a government."
Nine days later, Manhattan exploded. It took more than a week for Union troops, many of them fresh from the carnage at Gettysburg, to restore order. While it's been established that at least 105 New Yorkers, many of them black victims of lynch mobs, were killed during that week, the riot was surely responsible for some of the dozens of unidentifiable corpses that washed up on both banks of the East River during the rest of July. New York, convulsed by 16 major riots between 1834 and 1874, was that kind of city.
(The entire section is 939 words.)