With General Sherman’s Union forces closing on Atlanta, 19-year-old Ulysses Simpson and his father, Bayliss, on leave from their Confederate units, set out to avenge the death of a younger member of their family slain by a band of deserters, an action that sets the Simpson clan on a course that will have a significant impact on future generations.
A hundred years later, Ron Simpson, having enlisted in the army during the Vietnam War, and trained as a helicopter pilot, traumatized by news of the massacre by US forces at My Lai, is faced with a decision—does he honor his oath to serve his country, no matter what, or does he follow his own conscience, and his desire not to kill.
Sons of My Fathers by Michael A. Simpson is a mostly true, multi-generation, family saga that explores the stress that can be put on a family when personal values conflict with the expectations of society or the organization to which a person belongs. Using the backdrop of the Civil War, a conflict that pitted brother against brother, and threatened to fracture the nation, the author contrasts that period with the Vietnam War at the height of the anti-war movement, when citizens began to question the wisdom and integrity of those elected to lead the nation. Using historical sources and family recollections, Simpson takes the reader inside the internal conflicts that rage when the decisions and orders from those in leadership veer from the personal moral codes of individuals, and show the need of individuals to take personal responsibility for their decisions and actions.
In today’s climate of moral ambiguity and political uncertainty, this book is food for thought. In addition, it’s a highly compelling read that shows the personal anguish of war and its impact on those called upon to fight; providing lessons that can help navigate the treacherous waters that we face, not just in war, but in every facet of life.
I received a free copy of this book, and found that, once I started reading, I was unable to put it down. This is not just a war story, nor is it your typical coming-of-age novel. It’s a blueprint for living a life that has meaning, and being able to respect the one person who really matters in life—yourself.
Without hesitation, I give it five stars.