Journey into Darkness

J. Arthur Moore, Omnibook Co., 556 pages, (paperback) 978-6214340491 (Reviewed: August, 2014)

Originally published in four separate volumes, J. Arthur Moore’s chronicle of a young Arkansas boy’s experiences on both sides of the Civil War battle lines gains emotional power as a single long tale.

At the outset of the tale, ten-year-old Duane Kinkade’s father enlists in the Confederate army, and when raiders kill the boy’s mother, he is left on his own. His search for his father takes Duane into battle at Shiloh, where he’s wounded then rescued by a Union doctor. The fact that the boy moves from Confederate to Union forces in this section and those that follow seems improbable, but Moore’s work is otherwise so well researched that readers will believe it was possible.

Duane’s shifting perspective underscores war’s dreadful toll on all combatants. The boy is blinded while serving with the Confederacy at Gettysburg. Back with the Union in the final section, he endures the deaths of two friends, just kids like himself.

“War does thin’s ta ya,” Duane says in a passage characteristic both of Moore’s less- than-subtle use of dialect and the novel’s fundamental power. “It makes ya kill when ya really ain’t wantin’ naturely ta do it. It’s a horror ya cain’t b’lieve really happens.” Moore’s central point, that war is hell and everyone longs for peace, is underscored in a poignant scene where a Federal band, playing within earshot of the Confederate army encamped across the river, begins with John Brown’s Body but also plays Dixie; as it closes with Home Sweet Home, “tears ran unchecked down the cheeks of a hundred thousand [sic] men and boys.”

Heartfelt and affecting, written in plain prose that suits its young protagonist, this sad story poignantly drives home the human cost of war.

Blue Ink Heads-Up: This would be an excellent resource for middle-school American history classes, giving a boy’s-eye view of the Civil War and reminding students that kids their own age were caught up in active duty during the war. The solid research and gripping battle scenes will engage adult Civil War buffs.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Journey into Darkness

Silver Medal Book Winner

Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite :

Journey Into Darkness by J. Arthur Moore is a well-crafted tale of a young man’s adventure in the Civil War. While his father is away fighting with the Confederate army, Duane Kinkade is left with no choice but to search for him after his mother is killed by raiders, a search that will immerse him in an adventure he never considered initially. He joins one camp, gets wounded, and rescued, finding himself on the other side of the war front. It’s a painful story of love and loss, of courage in the face of death, and the numerous vicissitudes of war.

The story features a cast of rock-solid and fully-fledged characters and readers will want to follow the protagonist through every step of his struggle, turning the pages to know what happens to him. From the moment his mother dies, readers ache to know if the young boy will find his father, but things do not always turn out as readers would want them to, and J. Arthur Moore prepares yet more twists and surprises. This novel features a perfect blend of the playfulness and alacrity of youth, the grim reality of war, and the art of surviving in difficult and dangerous situations.

Journey Into Darkness offers a refreshing look at the Civil War, combining fiction with historical facts to entertain readers while making a powerful statement that condemns war. The language is charming, mimicking the different accents and backgrounds, and one immediately gets a picture of the cultural and educational backgrounds of the characters. Listen, for instance, to this dialogue:

“Hey, Pounder!” the boy called.
“He sure has growd since I last saw him,” Jamie observed.
“We’ll git off here, Ma,” Duane stated.

But then at times, it is lyrical, and poetic, like the rush of hastened feet of soldiers on the charge, rhythmic and nerve-wracking. Although Journey Into Darkness is a powerful chronicle of war from a boy’s point of view, it is an altogether enjoyable story, exquisitely entertaining, and utterly satisfying in its denouement.

Reviewed by Michelle Robertson for Readers’ Favorite :

Journey Into Darkness is written by J. Arthur Moore. The book is a novel divided into four books, a device insisted upon by a young friend of the author because young readers do not like thick books, this particular book being 556 pages. This novel was created as an American Civil War: historical fiction story. The layout, design, and photographs are perfectly designed and placed in appropriate places to capture the words the story tells and visions the readers might have.

A mind blowing adventurous story of war, friendship, youth, soldiers, and death in the time of the American Civil war. One boy’s experiences during the time of war from age 10 through 13 are told with the turn of each page. Experiencing sadness, grief, heartbreak, friendship, loneliness, value, worth, and pride, a boy journeys through one of the toughest times America has had to endure, in search of his father who had gone to war. He finds himself on both sides at times, Confederate and Union, not taking either side, just trying not to perish with so many others.

Journey Into Darkness is an incredible story of true events written in a way to allow for further understanding of the events that happened during this time period. Adding a few fictional characters but blending them with actual names and places recognized today as great historical people and landmarks, the book is truly worth the read. It is a long read, but worth every word. I enjoyed this story immensely. Civil war stories are not often told through the eyes of a young soldier, and there were many during that time. Having made the center focus of the book a youth during the war makes the story hit the minds and hearts of children in a more personal way, and in my opinion allows young readers to relate to the characters and understand the plot a little more easily.

Journey into Darkness by J. Arthur Moore is truly a magical, educational, and adventurous story all readers interested in the Civil war should read and enjoy.

Journey Into Darkness

Written by J. Arthur Moore

Reviewed by Stan Stubbe

Well, I’ve done it!  I’ve read all 4 volumes of “Journey Into Darkness,” and want to share a few thoughts with you while they are still fresh in my mind. 

Foremost, I found Dee’s adventures during the North/South conflict to be most engaging and must admit that although I am not one to be overly emotional about stories of young people’s escapades in general and those about a bygone era in particular, more than once you managed to hook this 81-year old to the point of tears.  Secondarily, I found your clever use of characterizations and vernacular of the time interwoven with your impressive knowledge of Civil War geography and chronology to keep the story line topical and relevant. 

But to get more specific, why I found this yarn to be of particular relevance to my own lineage is because of my earlier extensive research on two of my ancestors, 2 great grandfathers who fought for the North during the War.  One, Karl Friedrich Keppler, was a private in the 20th. New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the other, Louis Richard Brown, then a recent graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, was drafted into the 175th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment and stationed in Washington, NC, with the rank of Hospital Steward.  Doubtless, both men experienced firsthand the carnage, deprivation and suffering that you so amply wove into your story line. 

In pursuit of greater knowledge of my 20th. NY Regiment relative, in the early ’70’s I visited the site where he was wounded at Chickahominy, White Oak Swamp, VA, and taken prisoner and also visited Belle Island on the James River, where he was incarcerated and where deprivation and suffering were apparently beyond imagination.  Your knowledge of the subject and vivid portrayal of Dee’s experiences therefore provided me with a broader perspective that I had previously been only superficially aware. 

All that aside, Joel, thank you for sharing with my grandsons the fruits of your considerable labors.  I’ve had several meaningful sessions with Isaac and Luke so as to better appreciate their reactions and to find that although they certainly were engrossed with the story line and adventure, would not admit to Grandpa of having been quite so emotionally caught up as I.  Ah, youth!

On the Eve of Conflict

by J. Arthur Moore

Posted on August 8th, 2013

Book review by: Simon Barrett in All News, Book Reviews, Reviews

The Beginning of the Story

Book 1 of Journey Into Darkness

 I am a student of history. The problem with history however, it is a subject that continues to grow on a daily basis. The consequences being that less and less time is devoted to particular historical events in the school system. This in my opinion is unfortunate as history offers much wisdom in helping understand the present by way of looking at the past.

The problem that I wrestle with is how do you interest young people in events from bygone times? Author J(oel) Arthur Moore clearly shares my concern and has created a four book set Journey into Darkness, a look at the events of the civil war as seen through the eyes of a pre teen. The books are written in a style that I call ‘Faction’, a skillful technique of using actual historical events and weaving a fictional narrative around it.

What unfortunately is rarely discussed in history books, is the role that young boys played in the conflict. In today’s world it seems ludicrous to have kids as young as 12 involved. The Civil War was a very different conflict, while I dislike the overused term that it pitted ‘brother against brother’, it is fair to say that it was a war that was fought at the family level.

Joel uses Duane Kinkade as his narrator. A young farm boy growing up in the Ozarks. At the tender age of 11 he finds himself thrust into manhood. With the Civil War on the very brink of erupting, his father has joined the confederate effort, Duane and his mother must tend to the farm, feed the animals, bring in the crops, and perform all of the maintenance.

The Civil War was not just about large battles, but also about small groups of unofficial marauders set upon creating as much havoc as possible. It is one such band that attacks the farm. The raid razes farm buildings, kills Duane’s mother, and Duane himself is severely wounded.

There is little to keep Duane in the Ozarks, his only hope is to somehow locate his father. This of course is easier said than done. It would be more than 150 years before the internet becomes available, the only real way of long distance communication was by post, and the combination of war and delivery system meant that it could take months for a letter to find its way to a recipient.

The only clue as to his father’s whereabouts is indeed months old. This does not stop the young boy from trying. His plan is at least sketchy at best, the chances of success are limited, but it is a chance!

On the Eve of Conflict gets high marks. J. Arthur Moore certainly sets the stage for the rest of the series. What I like is his high level of knowledge, not just the cold facts often regurgitated in history books, but rather the social mores and lifestyles of the time.

Simon Barrett

Let Others Know About This Post

Comments from Luke and Isaac Sassa

Dear Mr. Moore,

I just finished reading On the Eve of Conflict and would really recommend this story to kids my age. I enjoyed the excitement and suspense and couldn’t put it down. I’m looking forward to reading more of Duane’s adventures. 

Isaac Sassa,  age 14.

Dear Mr. Moore,

I found the series to be very interesting.  I just finished studying about the Civil War and I found these books to be an excellent supplement to my studies.  They were very historically accurate even down to the smallest details.  These books showed the harsh reality of the Civil War. They also showed the great sacrifices made by our countrymen so that we may enjoy the freedom we have today.  I would recommend these books to anyone who likes adventure and is interested in learning more about the Civil War. 

Isaac Sassa, age 14. 

Dear Mr. Moore,

I  just finished reading On the Eve of Conflict and found it to be very exciting and also educational.  My favorite part was when the raiders attacked Duane and his mother.  I would recommend this book to any boy who likes adventure. 

Luke Sassa, Age 13.

On the Eve of Conflict

A. Moore’s Civil War Historical Fiction Series Starts Very Well

By Douglas Winslow Cooper, on November 25, 2015

Duane Kinkaid, “Dee,” age 11, becomes a drummer for the Confederate Army in 1862, about a year after the start of the U.S. Civil War. Joel Arthur Moore, retired teacher and active Civil War buff, has written a series of books for young readers based on his extensive knowledge of the period and taking advantage of his experience with school-age boys and what they find to be of interest. If I were decades younger, I might well have given this a fifth star; some may also be concerned at the relatively high price for the paperback. I understand that the full series is to be issued in a lower-priced format, with additional illustrations.

The story accelerates from a description of the rural setting in the South where Dee and his mother and father happily eke out a living on a small farm, helped by their brave, much-smarter-than-the-average-big-dog Ponder and cooperation with friendly neighbors. Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, Dee’s Dad joins a contingent from his Arkansas small town to join the Rebels to protect their homeland from the Yankees. Tragedy strikes the Kinkaids, and Dee sets off to find his dad.

Mr. Moore writes clearly, cleanly, and correctly, describing the conditions of the time and bringing his characters to life, characters who, with the exception of a band of vicious, lawless raiders, are admirable and likable.

I purchased the Kindle edition, and experienced much of the book through its text-to-speech feature, much like having the author read the book to me; in an introduction, Mr. Moore noted that he himself would narrate such stories to the school boys he took camping with him. Volume one brings Dee through to a major change in his life, giving the reader some sense of completion but leaving open questions about what happens to him, to be answered in the additional volumes published already.

Parents and teachers who want students exposed to well-written, highly informed historical fiction can safely start them on this series, which I would expect continues on the worthwhile path started with volume one.

Up From Corinth 

by J. Arthur Moore

Posted on April 8th, 2012

by Simon Barrett in All News, Book Reviews, Reviews

book 2 of Journey Into Darkness

Historical Fiction is a genre of writing that is historically difficult to pull off. Weaving fiction with fact takes great precision, it is a challenge not for the feint at heart. The facts are cast in stone, they cannot be changed. As if this were not difficult enough, author J. Arthur Moore decided to make his life even harder!

Let me explain. The author is a retired educator with over four decades of experience. The focus today in education is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), while this is laudable it means that many other areas are languishing, certainly one of those areas is History. This saddens me, as much about the present and even the future can be gleaned from understanding the past. In a very bold step J. Arthur Moore is trying to level the playing field. Write a book about America’s most contentious period, the Civil War, and do it in such a fashion that will appeal to middle and high school readers.

The approach taken by the author is an interesting one, the story is told through the eyes of a young drummer boy. Duane (Dee) Kinkade may only be 11 years old, but he is on a mission of the utmost importance, he is in search of his father . Dee has little to go on, other than a letter that explains he is with the Confederates in Tennessee. Dee signs on in Pittsburg landing and sees his first action at the Battle of Shiloh.

Wounded, he finds himself in the care of the Union army. Not as a prisoner, but as an 11 year old victim of war.

Up From Corinth explores the events from the Battle of Shiloh through the period following the Battle of Stones River.

It would be a gross injustice to the author and potential readers to discuss the plot very much more. Instead I will make some observations. Prior to reading Up From Corinth I had the opportunity to talk at some length with J. Arthur Moore, what impressed me most was his passion. I asked him what his goal for the book was, his reply surprised me “I want to see it in schools, I want to see it used in History classes.” At the time I thought the author was maybe not firing on all eight cylinders. Who has ever heard of a fiction book being used in a History class?

However, I was wrong, and I apologize for thinking what I did. Up From Corinth has much to offer the inquiring mind. The Civil War is one of the (alas too few) periods of history taught in our schools today. Most text books are dry and boring on the subject. It is not about dates, places, and number of casualties, it is a complex story of beliefs, ambitions and direction for a country that needed unity.

J. Arthur Moore takes the reader behind the scenes, yes his main characters are fictional, but he uses them to factual ends. This book does have a place in schools, I think it would be the perfect adjunct to a Civil War class. It would also not be out of place in a Social Studies environment. It also has a place in everyone’s home library. It is so well constructed, it is a waste to limit the target to schools. Likewise the age group. Up From Corinth is not just for the YA (Young Adult) crowd, I passed that mark over 40 years ago!

I found that as I was reading my thirst for knowledge gene was activated. My wife thinks I am pretty strange at the best of times, this morning she found me tearing apart a closet “What are you doing”? “Civil War research” was my reply. She went and hid behind her computer! Actually I told the truth, I was searching for some Civil War material to check out the factual aspects mentioned in Up From Corinth. Yup, everything that J. Arthur Moore uses as fact is indeed fact!

You can order your copy of Up From Corinth from Amazon by using the link at the top of the page, or from better book stores everywhere. There is also a supporting Web Site that is worth a visit.

Simon Barrett

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