July 23, 2003
The Civil War stands as one of the bloodiest and darkest periods of United States history as fellow Americans fought and killed each other on their own native soil.
From that dark period comes a book of hope and redemption: "Mr. Lincoln's Gold" by Norris Caldwell.
Caldwell's novel reaches for the heart of America's darkest hour. Told through the eyes of Marcus Wade, a young Illinois farm boy, the book follows him from the day he entered Lincoln's Army in 1861 to the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in 1912.
After Marcus first encounters battle, he realizes he could never kill another human. He escapes from Shiloh in what he thought was an abandoned wagon.
To his astonishment, the wagon contained $500,000 in gold coins, the entire payroll for Gen. Grant's Army. Marcus absconds with the money and heads south.
Chronicling the lives of the brave young men on the battlefields and the struggles of their families back home, Caldwell blends historically accurate accounts with fictional characters.
Marcus eventually finds a new home with a Southern family. With the gold, they help those most affected by the war. After the war, Marcus and his wife, Jenny, carry on the crusade throughout their lives, taking their good will and Lincoln's gold to Memphis to help destitute women.
A story of family, friends, love, faith, commitment, dedication and good will, "Mr. Lincoln's Gold" brings the plight of the Civil War back to life.
Caldwell is an honor graduate of the University of Mississippi with degrees in English and history.
Retired from his successful antique business, he is an active church member, serving as deacon and teaching adult Sunday school for more than 20 years.
He is involved with Kiwanis, Methodist Senior Services Retirement Community and the Tupelo City Museum.
He lives with his wife in the home they built in 1955. They have three children and four grandchildren. An avid history buff, Caldwell has visited all of the battlefields mentioned in "Mr. Lincoln's Gold," his first work of fiction.
His non-fiction book, "War and Home," received the Mississippi Department of Social Studies Award of Excellence in 2001 and can be found many Mississippi high school libraries.
Book: "Mr. Lincoln's Gold"
How to order: Visit www.1stbooks.com.
The price: Hardcover, $20.50; paperback, $11.50
If you are a Mississippi author and would like your book featured in this column, send book and background
information to Penny Randall, The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302; call: (601) 693-1551 or