Here’s the problem, or one of them.
If one is non-violent and believes as I do that "just war" theory is bullshit, then all wars are wrong.
That includes the exceedingly violent American Civil War, even though it at last adopted the noble cause of ending slavery and starting blacks on the exceedingly long road to equality and respect in US society.
A very worthy cause indeed.
But the novel must have as its premise that the war should never have been fought.
So far, the closest I’ve found to a Martin Luther King or a Daniel Berrigan is William Lloyd Garrison. Frederick Douglass is next closest.
BTW, it would be interesting to find King’s reflections on the Civil War, if ever he made any of them public.
Who am I, an aging white boy, to say that this war that, by a route fortunate if circuitous freed the slaves, should never have been fought?
I’m a human being, a humane being, who cringes every time the number of casualties for any battle is read off, especially if it’s said that the Union or the Confederacy "won" battle X because their side "only" sustained 5,000 casualties to the other side’s 10,000.
So the novel becomes the presentation of monsters and monstrosities, the total insanity of the South’s racism, a thorough irreality-tunnel about fighting for their liberty to deprive others of liberty; the revered generals who oversaw pillage and slaughter; Lincoln, a man of brilliant words, but as much a tyrant and Constitution-betrayer as any President; Booth of course; and Booth’s self-castrating killer Boston Corbett.
But how to find (decide upon) a way in to all this material???
Aye, there’s the rub.