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Where I’m Bound, A Civil War Novel by Allen Ballard

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When Duckett escapes his life of bondage to become a cavalry scout, he grows to be more than a free man—he becomes a hero. Duckett and his hard-riding regiment roam the Mississippi Delta, freeing slaves and keeping vital waterways open for the Union. As the war approaches its final, tragic days, Duckett embarks on his most dangerous mission yet: to return to the plantation from which he escaped in order to reunite with his wife and daughter.

Where I’m Bound is a striking blend of historical fact and dramatic storytelling brilliantly illustrating the accomplishments of African-American Civil War soldiers.

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“. . . the smell of combat, the horror and comedy of slavery, the richness and complexities of love, [and] the nuances of history all wrapped in a riveting story about black soldiers making their way through the whirlwind of the Civil War. . . a stunning novel!” — Roger Wilkins, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American History and Culture, George Mason University

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Where I'm Bound - A Civil War Novel by Allen Ballard

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Where I’m Bound, a stunning and engaging Civil War novel, was the first novel (Simon & Schuster 2000) to focus solely on the soldiers of an African American regiment.

Throughout the war, more than 180,000 African-American men fought for the Union Army. Many were escaped slaves, others were freed men; yet all voluntarily enlisted for one cause: freedom. These experiences are successfully portrayed in a manner befitting the grandeur and scope of their contributions. Inspired by the true story of a black cavalry unit in Mississippi, renowned African-American historian Allen Ballard weaves factual events with the fictional account of an escaped slave, Joe Duckett, who flees to join the Northern Army.

When Duckett escapes his life of bondage to become a cavalry scout, he grows to be more than a free man—he becomes a hero. Duckett and his hard-riding regiment roam the Mississippi Delta, freeing slaves and keeping vital waterways open for the Union. As the war approaches its final, tragic days, Duckett embarks on his most dangerous mission yet: to return to the plantation from which he escaped in order to reunite with his wife and daughter.

More than just an account of Civil War, Where I’m Bound is an affecting portrayal of the psychological effects of war. Through the character Duckett, some of war’s greatest tragedies are painfully evoked-the agonizing separation from family, the horrendous mission of having to kill another man, and the cruelty and moral corruption that occur when men’s passions are their greatest weapons against one another. This story of one man’s ability to meet such overwhelming challenges brings to life the noble fight for freedom as displayed by African-American soldiers as well as the effects of the fight on an entire country and culture.

Where I’m Bound is a striking blend of historical fact and dramatic storytelling brilliantly illustrating the accomplishments of African-American Civil War soldiers. Where I’m Bound is destined to become a classic novel of the Civil War.

 What they are Saying . . . 

From LIBRARY JOURNAL

“. . . a well-told narrative of life in all social strata of Louisiana and Mississippi after the fall of Vicksburg, with detailed descriptions of such phenomena as the refugee camps . . . a compelling story. Recommended for larger public libraries.”
—DAnn M. Fleury, Tampa-Hillsborough Cty. P.L., FL Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“. . . this is a powerful novel about a soldier fighting in a war that would determine his personal destiny and that of a young nation.”
—Agent, Owen Laster. Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This text refers to an older edition of this title.

From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Adult/High School–An engrossing fictional account of the important role of African-American soldiers in the Civil War. . . . The historical facts are presented in a compelling way, the characters are vivid, and the battle scenes are alive with tension and action. Readers are kept in touch with the complex emotions and thought processes of a wide range of characters, both male and female, black and white, as the story unfolds. . . . a perfect read for students who are studying the Civil War.”
—Joyce Fay Fletcher, Prince William County Library System, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
This text refers to an older edition of this title.

From BOOKLIST

“. . . a stirring novel extolling the long-neglected contributions and heroics of black soldiers during the Civil War. . . . A complex, passionate portrait of an African American patriot, this rousing historical adventure compares well with the Black Sabre Chronicles, Tom Willard’s serial tribute to black military men.
—Margaret Flanagan Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This text refers to an older edition of this title.

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The important story of black soldiers in the Union army has finally found a writer of historical fiction equal to the occasion. Allen Ballard’s Where I’m Bound weaves together the experiences of former slave Sergeant Joe Duckett of the 3rd U.S. Colored Calvary with those of his family members left behind in slavery. As the novel moves towards its dramatic and moving climax, the reader learns a great deal about the civil war within the Civil War along the rivers and bayous of Mississippi and Louisiana. A good read for anyone interested in the Civil War and the history of African-Americans.” – James M. McPherson, Professor of History, Princeton University, Author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Allen Ballard’s thrilling drama gives Civil War history real life, starting with its fugitive slave carpenter protagonist. Sergeant Joe Duckett makes a fine soldier and attractive lover whose joys and sorrows reflect that infernally American peculiar institution. What a terrific story!” – Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University, Author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol

“Built around the campaigns of the 3rd U.S. Colored Calvary Regiment; the Civil War explodes through dimensions of history bypassed by a horde of historians. Now Allen B. Ballard has drawn back the curtain on yet another marvelous and moving epoch of the Black experience of that time in Where I’m Bound.” – John A. Williams, Author of The Man Who Cried I Am

Rising from the dead, the voices of black soldiers in the Civil War whisper, shout and wail how that societal conflict really felt, smelled and tasted; all through the gifted and nimble storytelling of Allen Ballard. It is especially fitting that this quintessential Civil War epic waited for historian and scholar Ballard to bring it to life. Those who want to deepen their knowledge of that horrendous period in American history shouldn’t miss the satisfying tale.” – Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, Author of The Sweeter Juice

“In Where I’m Bound, Allen B. Ballard has given us the smell of combat, the horror and comedy of slavery, the richness and complexities of love, [and] the nuances of history all wrapped in a riveting story about black soldiers making their way through the whirlwind of the Civil War. This is a stunning novel!” – Roger Wilkins, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American History and Culture, George Mason University

Where I’m Bound, A Civil War Novel by Allen Ballard

Allen Ballard, Author
credit: Allen Ballard

Allen Ballard is a native of Philadelphia and a proud graduate of its Central High School. He holds degrees from Kenyon College and Harvard University and spent most of his career teaching at the City College of New York and SUNY-Albany.

He’s the prize-winning author of two novels and four works of non-fiction. His Civil War novel, Where I’m Bound was a 2001 Washington Post, Notable Book of the Year.

Carried by Six, A Novel of Urban Bravery in America was the recipient of the 2010 Black Caucus American Literary Award (BCALA) Honorable Mention in Fiction.

Ballard presently lives in Clifton Park, New York  where, at age 88+, from early spring to late fall,  he tries not to let a day go by without at least a good thirty minute ride on his adult trike!

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