Wolves of Eden

Norton. Nov. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780393652048. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393652055. F
OrangeReviewStarMcCarthy (Peeler) has written a classic Western from an Irish perspective. Brothers Michael and Thomas Kelly O'Driscoll flee to America after accidentally killing another man. Penniless, they enlist in the army upon landing, promised food and lodging for a little bit of fighting. But even after suffering physical and mental injuries in the Civil War, they sign up to head west to Montana. The narrative flips between Michael's narrative and the third-person story of an Irish army officer and his Jewish aide-de-camp, with these two threads growing closer as the book proceeds. The characters are no angels, and McCarthy doesn't sanitize or modernize attitudes or opinions of the indigenous people or freed slaves. Despite this and the frequent violence, the story is never gratuitously offensive. With pitch-perfect writing, McCarthy gives us a new slant on Western history, illuminating the extensive role of Irish immigrants in the U.S. Army in the 1860s. The emotional heart of the book is the close, unsentimental relationship of the O'Driscoll brothers.
VERDICT This is a strong entry in the modern Western genre, encompassing both historical accuracy and social commentary, wrapped in a well-told story. [See Prepub Alert, 5/21/18.]

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