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The Civil War Resonates Today for Avon Author

Roland Hicks has published the first book in a six-part series about that dark era.

Editor's Note: This story was written by Patch freelancer Lisa Lenkiewicz.

Interest in the Civil War seems to be at an all-time high.  The movie “Lincoln” is a blockbuster in theaters, and the Avon Free Public Library is hosting a national traveling exhibit entitled, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.”

It is all good timing for Avon author Roland Hicks, who recently published the first of a six-book series set during the Civil War.

The book, “The Ceremony of Innocence,” which Hicks self-published on Amazon under the byline R.R. Hicks, is a work of historical fiction. Written in first-person, it is the personal narrative of  William Hanlin, a West Point graduate, who reluctantly is swept back into battle as he trains a regiment of Connecticut soldiers who will fight in the Civil War, while harboring a dark family secret.

It is a story of war, death, betrayal, intrigue—with a dash of Scott Turow, said Hicks.

“This is fiction, but all that happens is real,” explained Hicks, who noted his first book is set entirely in Hartford.

Hicks, 55, an attorney specializing in legal consulting and research, is steeped in minute details of Civil War battles. Off the top of his head, he referenced historical information about the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Fredericksburg, to name a few. He is also well-versed in literature and has named the titles of his books by borrowing lines from William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming.”

For example, his second book, due to be out in January, is titled “The Falconer.” The third book in the series, scheduled for March, is called “Things Fall Apart.” References to Poe, Hawthorne and Shakespeare, popular during the Civil War era, are woven throughout his books.

“Everything about the Civil War resonates today,” said Hicks. He cited a fractured political society then and now and acts of terror and destruction on both sides of the battle between the Union and the Confederacy juxtaposed with the world of terrorist activity and fear today.  Further, issues such as immigration, which were divisive in the mid-1800s, are still issues in American society, noted Hicks.

“My writing gets darker and darker as the war goes on,” said Hicks. He added that people today aren’t fully aware of the extent to which the Civil War was a “bloodbath.” New historical research estimates more than 750,000 people died as the result of the battles of the war, said Hicks.

Hicks has been searching for a Civil War equivalent to the war novels of Patrick O’Brian or The Sharpe Series about the American Revolution. He is critical of war films for their depiction of combat, which he claims are devoid of the necessary character development to understand the emotional impact of war.

Said Hicks: “Civil War fiction has become formulaic and sanitized. I wrote this to show the Civil War as I have always wanted to see it portrayed:  a first-person narrative with real people—men and women—real dialogue, real emotion. “

Praise for the series has come from British documentary filmmaker and military author Dominic Streatfeild, who wrote on the book jacket: “Literary…compelling…a visceral, personal narrative of the Civil War…the series is destined to be the ‘Band of Brothers’ of the Civil War novel.”

R.R. Hicks’ book, “The Ceremony of Innocence,” the first in a six-part series, is available at www.amazon.com.

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