Copperhead Wales: A Novel of New York City During the American Civil War
C. D. Webb
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/10)
C. D. Webb captures the essence of the economic and political turmoil surrounding the period leading up to America’s Civil War in September 1860 through to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in April 1865. “Copperhead Wales” gives the reader an additional perspective into the conflicting ideologies between the “landed gentry” of New England and the “plantation owners” of the South.
Chadwick Wales, young, good looking, and well educated, is the sole heir to the fortunes of his mother, a New England textile heiress. Chad is looking forward to furthering his education in the classic and languages studies before marrying his childhood sweetheart, Clarrissa Renfield.
Unexpectedly Chad is called home from Princeton to learn that the tension building among New York bankers, financiers, industrialists, and politicians over the tariff controversy and the slavery issue with the plantation owners of the South was causing embarrassment within his own family. His father had abandoned his mother to return to Virginia to show loyalty to the cause of the South.
Subterfuge, espionage, and terror reign in New York City, the setting of the novel. Chad is caught up in personal conflict over the secession of the Southern states, an impending family scandal, his parent’s divorce, and the uncertainty of his own future.
Suspense, conflict, drama, and romance move the plot forward as the young protagonists struggle with frail egos, conflicting values, and self discovery. Throughout the book Webb combines his literary writing skills with thorough research and a background in analytical psychology to create believable characters caught in a web of conspiracy that includes plans to firebomb Manhattan.
“Copperhead Wales” addresses social issues from a unique period of American history, many of which have been resolved; others remain as a reminder of the cynicism, personal political agendas, and power struggles that continue to generate attitudes permeated by greed even today. C. D. Webb’s writing is innovative, resourceful, and original.