In “the city that reads,” where Orioles and Ravens are heroes and the rage, a Baltimore Post-Examiner headline declared: “Gripping Saga of Isaac Rice, a Runaway Slave, is a Hero’s Journey. [Don’t] be surprised if First Dark ends up as a popular movie.”
GEN Lloyd Newton
With his opening, Bob Rogers had my full attention and drew me into the lives of nineteenth-century families whose stories he used in First Dark as a contribution to the discussion Americans are having today about how things got this way in our country. After reading the last line in First Dark, the struggles of lead character Isaac Rice and his young contemporaries continued to fill my mind with questions about our troubled national past and its effect on the future of our country. Opening paragraph from Foreword by Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, General (Ret.), USAF
About the Book
In the spring of 1863, Illinoisan Abe Lincoln was in the second year of his presidency of a country half its territorial size when he took the oath of office. During the same spring, sixteen-year-old South Carolinian Isaac Rice fulfills his Great-grandfather’s dream and escapes from the more than a century-old slave labor camp known as Tiffany Plantation. Thanks to the forced free labor of generations of Isaac’s ancestors, the Tiffanys were the largest and richest rice producer in South Carolina’s Colleton District.
Months later, Isaac’s ambitions to return and save Bianca, his widowed lover, were thwarted. It was then that he began an epic journey shoveling coal aboard a United States Navy warship. Ship-wrecked by a hurricane on the Gulf of Mexico, he lands in Mississippi where he finds Rachel, the love of his life. Soon, Isaac fulfills his desire to be a soldier when joins the new United States Tenth Cavalry, created in the first year after the Uncivil War.
A memorable set of characters revolves around Isaac–a Confederate guerilla, a black female activist in a Mississippi Constitutional Convention, a Mescalero Apache warrior, a white Union cavalry sergeant, and a Mexican nurse. Together, with family and friends, they show us what it’s like to survive, hate and love in their time. All raise their voices and bare their souls as the world they seek constantly changes, bringing tragedy and triumph to their lives and Isaac’s.
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