That's not to say that A Separate Country isn't well-written - it is, and it is also, clearly, well researched. Unfortunately, it seems that whenever Hicks writes from John Bell Hood's point of view, he's writing what he personally thinks Hood should have thought or felt, rather than what the General probably actually thought or felt. Now, I understand that this is essentially historical fiction and not an outright biography, but far too often the disparity between what Hicks wrote and what was actually likely to have been the case served to merely take me out of the story.
Probably the best part of this story was the way it portrayed New Orleans. The portrait that Hicks paints of this city in the post-Civil War era is detailed and sadly beautiful in the way the city itself is. For that alone I give A Separate Country 3/5 stars. It was interesting but didn't hook me the way historical fiction often does.
"I have a sinful man's appetite for the secret thoughts of others, especially when they concern me."
"There's nothing about being human that inherently recommends itself to me. I dislike most humans."
"'...you can't keep him from himself and disaster, you must know that it was the price of loving a man like that. You may suffer, but you must not quit him because he is unsuited for this world. You knew that at the beginning and you loved him anyway...'"
"What terrible outbursts of cruelty and horror have been committed by man in the interest of concealing that terrible secret, our cowardice."
"'Life is pain. If no pain, there is no life...'"
'You don't, but you can imagine understanding, and that's a good quality. It is a kind quality. I do not have it.'"
"I had learned, I suppose, that there were some things that needed doing, and you were to do them however you felt about it."