E-Book version of all three available at iUniverse
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I was interviewed some time ago by the North Carolina Museum of History concerning the writing of this trilogy.
"The Confederate Secret Services, a conversation with W. Patrick Lang, novelist, retired U.S. Army colonel, and military intelligence consultant
Patrick Lang discusses his two novels, The Butcher’s Cleaver and Death Piled Hard, both of which focus on Claude Devereux, a Virginia banker who is recruited by the Confederate secret service and placed in the office of Union secretary of war Edwin Stanton. Approximate run time: 24 minutes. Podcast "
This podcast is highly recommended
"Science currently holds that time travel is an impossibility, but readers of Down the Sky, thefinal volume of Colonel Pat Lang’s Strike the Tent trilogy will question that assertion. Code-named “Hannibal,” Confederate penetration agent Claude Devereux is firmly lodged in the upper echelons of the Federal war machine. Now a Brigadier General of the Union forces with the new Congressional Medal of Honor on his chest, Major Devereux of the Confederate Secret Service knows time is running out. His minders in Richmond may no longer trust him, his personal life is a shambles, and Union spy-catcher Lafayette Baker is determined to bring him down. Only his peculiar, personal friendship with President Lincoln holds his enemies at bay.
Claude’s missions for the Federal War Department take him to major battles, and the reader will experience Cedar Creek, and Fort Fisher as if in person. The vision of Lincoln standing in full view of the Confederate sharpshooters at Fort Stephens is indelible, as is the vignette of a severely wounded Union officer on the grounds of the Belle Grove Plantation after Cedar Creek. Such a view of battle could only have come from the author’s personal experiences.
The book stands alone, but it is a worthy successor to its two predecessors, The Butcher’s Cleaver, and Death Piled Hard. The great Shelby Foote said:
'The Civil War brings everything into a sharper focus with heightened color. Anytime you want to study human behavior, it is well to study the Civil War, because in that you study human behavior under terrific pressure and heat. So that men show what they are for good or bad more readily than in ordinary times.'
Readers of the trilogy, and of Down the Sky in particular will find this unerringly demonstrated by the historical rigor and deep creativity of Patrick Lang.
These books are available in electronic formats to include "Kindle' from major vendors. pl
"Strike the Tent," a review by Richard Sale
“In my beginning is my end.”
Pat Lang’s three-volume novel is a vast work that has real genius. It speaks with what Yeats called, “the living voice.” What makes it remarkable is the astonishing breadth of the canvas on which he paints, the dazzling sweep of the characters and scenes and the variety topics. The force of his narrative, the delicate mental reactions and subtle emotional calculations of the characters, along with Lang’s thorough mastery of the Civil War, make the book an amazing and praiseworthy performance.
There is a chiseled quality, a hardness and clarity in the way Lang sees things. In the book, you find that there are sexual tensions, personal rivalries, and strategic dilemmas in abundance. Lang’s world is a complicated and dangerous world. There are two supreme loyalties for a man – one is loyalty to his country, and the other is loyalty to family. Since the family loyalty is more personal, it is also the stronger.
Claude Devereux, a Confederate agent, is also man of tortured self-doubt (at one point he observes that ‘the people who doubted him most, are the people he cherished most”) and he is also a man ambitious of achievement, liking to pit his resources against superior odds, liking to be in places where he is liable to be killed. His mission forces him to perform exploits to validate his sense of his own worth. He is condemned to a perilous life of constant re-assessments, constant vigilance and wariness, always scanning the ground around him to avoid his own destruction. Claude is one of those who has to know when to be silent, to know just how much to say, to be truthful and yet to mislead, how to drop casual observations as a kind of test of a person’s acuteness, how to sense what others mean or know even if they don’t say it. He has to be able to know that someone is planning a secret meeting even though he says the exact opposite; he has to know that a person who appears to have real influence has in fact lost it; he has to know that another is a wire-puller, and yet a person from whom you can have anything you want if you simply present the right face and hit the right note.
In the end, Claude is destroyed by the very events he has set in motion, destroyed by his own inner demons. In the Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot used the line, “In the beginning, is my end.” That is Lang’s plot in a nut shell.
Reading Pat Lang’s novel has also changed the way I viewed the Civil War. It is a novel about patriotism, discipline and comradeship, but it is also about honor and the values of civilization. There is too much vindictive animosity about popular depictions of the South in the Civil War. In too many books, the South is pictured as a static, agricultural land directed by men of a refined culture that was marred by the ownership of slaves. Men of the North were men of the cities. By necessity, the liberty of the individual in the North was submerged into the preponderant weight of the mass. The mixed nature of the population demanded amalgamation. That was the source of the North’s strength. It was a gross strength, the strength of massed and limitless numbers.
By contrast, the South was an old civilization, one of luxury and refinement. In Lang’s book, you will discover that the gentlemen of the South were men of social graces and tradition. To the Greeks, nobility was the prime mover in forming the nation’s culture and the Confederate men are very Greek in their ideals. In the South, culture was shown in the whole man — in his external appearance, conduct, and in his inner nature. The Southern cavaliers lived by ancient commandments—“Honor the gods, Honor your father and mother, Respect the stranger.”
High civilization in history springs from the differentiation of social classes. The upbringing of those classes aims at producing a man the way he ought to be. It unites nobility of action with nobility of mind. In the South, a man measures his own nobility by the regard he enjoys in other’s eyes. Men do what they do in order to ensure their own worth. Heroes treat each other with constant respect and their whole social system depends on such respect.
The culture of the Confederacy prized physical prowess and spiritual harmony as the highest goods attainable by a successful life. A sense of honor prevented men from committing any gross action, and they were driven by an enormous drive to obtain honor by performing some great deed. Men did what they did to ensure their own worth. The man’s job was to forget himself in the service of the honorable duties demanded by his country in the while avoiding doing anything base. This was the foundation of the whole system of southern ethics. Honor was universally valid. You could not forget your country. Its values were universal and timeless and your service to them never ended.
Behind the cavaliers of the South stood the Southern women. Respect for honor lurked at the point of every sword. The men were chivalrous and enacted a gallantry that wasn’t false or artificial. Women in the South were worshipped as fit companions for the cavaliers. All this emerges as you read Lang’s narrative.
People like to cite Tolstoy’s War and Peace as a kind of mechanical homage to what they haven’t really read. I recently began W&P for the ninth time, and I can say, without flattery, that Lang’s work echoes in many ways Tolstoy’s masterpiece.
Review by Lawrence Kart of "The Butcher's Cleaver"
"This a remarkable and a very unusual book, with those qualities being inseparable. In particular, there is its pervasive, perambulating, almost dreamlike air — both in narration and description. That is, everything that its central character, Confederate agent Claude Devereux, takes note of (but not only Claude) is presented to us as though it were preserved in amber — estimates of men and situations but also the then-existing "look" of things, natural and man-made. Of course, to capture or evoke the "then-existing" as it was then felt is the great yet elusive goal of historical fiction. In addition, a feel for, or a need to evoke, the "then-existing" implies a no less powerful sense that much of what existed then is lost. It is here, without ever becoming too explicit, that "The Butcher's Cleaver" is so poetic. Again, this is present in the most seemingly ordinary descriptive passages (as time seems to slow down a bit to allow Claude to notice the look of a street, a piece of architecture, etc.). After a while one begins to feel that that all this verbal and visual "touching" amounts to a continuous farewell on Claude's part, and not only because he almost certainly knows that his cause and way of life are doomed but also because we know (as he anticipates) what acts Claude himself will bring to pass after the span of the novel itself is completed. The perambulating, near dreamlike quality of the book comes to a climax in the scene where Claude and his brother Patrick observe Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. Again, one would think that in the face of such a famous scene of "action" that the tempo of the writing would have to accelerate, but instead, if anything, it slows down a bit more, to convey what probably does occur in the minds of trained men who are observing combat but also to convey, in this case, their awed, horrified reluctance to take in what they cannot avoid seeing. Patrick, BTW, is a beautifully modeled character; his role in the double game the Devereux brothers are playing is at times almost heartbreaking." Lawrence Kart