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Copperhead: The Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles: Book Two [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 6 2001 Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles (Book 2)
The Nathaniel Starbuck ChroniclesBook Two
Ball's Bluff, 1862

The beloved Confederate Captain Nate Starbuck returns to the front lines of the Civil War in this second installment of Bernard Cornwell's acclaimed Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles. It is the summer of 1862, and Nate has been bloodied but victorious at the battles of Ball's Bluff and Seven Pines. But he can't escape his Northern roots, and it is only a matter of time until he's accused of being a Yankee spy, pursued, and brutally interrogated. To clear his name, he must find the real traitor -- a search that will require extraordinary courage, endurance, and a perilous odyssey through enemy territory.


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Copperhead: The Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles: Book Two + Bloody Ground: The Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles: Book Four + Battle Flag: The Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles: Book Three
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From Publishers Weekly

In the second volume of the Starbuck Chronicles, Cornwell surpasses his wonderful series featuring a war-crazed 19th-century British officer ( Sharpe's Devil , etc.) and even mainstream thrillers like Crackdown . Many believable, three-dimensional characters, including such historical figures as Jefferson Davis and George McClellan, walk, run, gallop and sometimes stumble through the Union's 1862 campaign to capture Richmond. Captain Nate Starbuck, who escaped from a fire-and-brimstone Boston preacher of a father to fight for the Confederacy in Rebel (which will be simultaneously released in paperback), here finds himself mistakenly jailed as a Yankee spy. Freed and sent across the lines as a double agent, he eventually returns to an uncertain future with the Confederates. Although it features more non-battle machinations--mostly tangled family relationships--than the Sharpe series, this novel also captures the "sheer joy" of war: Starbuck is "a soldier born to the dark trade." Cornwell masterfully depicts battle scenes and the dithering torpor of McClellan's campaign, but he also vividly portrays America's 19th-century religious fervor and Jefferson Davis's inaugural. Richard Sharpe's middle-aged son appears, as does a splendid villain aptly named de'Ath. This is a rollicking treat for Cornwell's many fans. $75,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the sequel to Rebel: The Starbuck Chronicles, Volume 1 (HarperCollins, 1993), Cornwell seeks to create a new hero as popular as his Richard Sharpe (from the author's Napoleonic series). Nathaniel Starbuck is a Northerner, the son of a Boston minister who becomes caught up in the South at the start of the Civil War and joins the Rebel cause, captivated more by the challenge and peril of war than the righteousness of either side. New-forged loyalties entice him to stay with the rebels even after his life and his family ties are put at risk when he must act as a spy to save his best friend from charges of espionage. Nate is a beguiling hero and Cornwell's balance of battle, romance, and historic scenes are neatly paced in this novel set against the 1862 battle for Richmond. Denise Perry Donavin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the bunch May 23 2002
Format:Paperback
As this book opens Starbuck is in trouble. He has just beem drummed out of the regiment on(false) charges of incompitance. So he travles to Richmond seeking help and too make matters worse he is frammed.
This is my favorite book in the serise. We are introduced to several new chacters
1. Gordon Swinyard(he grows on you)
2. Patrick Le'sawn(Richard Sharp's son)
I really enjoyed this book, you can always trust Cornwell to give you a good battle and to question your outlook on life as you are reading his books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Behind The Scenes Look At The Civil War Nov. 13 2003
Format:Paperback
If one is too insistent on the principal figure having a consistent psychology, then this book is not for you. It does have an interesting mix of characters, and it gave me a sense of the personal dynamics of life during the Civil War (when one thought of distance and transportation in terms of being on the back of a horse). The depiction of battle from the perspective of a regular soldier, with the killing being an entirely local phenomenon, the continuous confusion, and no picture of the greater strategy (are we actually dying for some good purpose, or is my commander an idiot?), is well illustrated. I don't know if I will bother with the rest of the series, but I thought this book was worth the read. Having been at Manassas/Bull Run, I also found the first book of this series interesting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic Hero Drags the Series Down Nov. 25 2002
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
Following in the tepid footsteps of Rebel is Cornwell's equally disappointing second tale of Nate Starbuck-a young Northerner who fights in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Starbuck is a very weak hero for Cornwell to hitch his Civil War series wagon to, and it's hard to care very much about his adventures. As in the previous book, comes across as more of a reflexively rebellious teenager than a heroic man of action. While it would have been interesting to see Starbuck really struggle with himself about the morality of his actions in joining the rebellion, the bulk of such internal conflicts are actually left to his best friend, Adam, who is a Southerner born and bred, and bullied by his father into uniform.
In this installment, Nate is drummed out of the "Faulconer Legion" by its commander, the vain, inept, and rich Gen. Faulconer, who hates him. This leads him to a Richmond prison cell, accused of being a Northern spy, all of which gets him enmeshed in the spycraft between the states. This rather conveniently dovetails with the activities of Adam Faulconer and Nate's own straight-laced brother. The spy material is rather interesting, with the appearance of real-life Alan Pinkerton as Union spymaster. The South's attempt to deceive the North as to its true manpower is particularly fascinating, and is portrayed by Cornwell as an element in their avoiding early defeat, along with Gen. McClelland's timidity.
While these semi-historical asides and speculations are interesting, the best part of the book is the walk-on cameo by a French Army observer Patrick Lésawn. Yes, he is the son of rifleman Richard Sharpe (hero of Cornwell's infinitely better Napoleonic series), and a vastly more compelling character than Starbuck.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  50 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read Aug. 29 2000
By Simon Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
`Copperhead' is the second in the `Starbuck Chronicles' and it provides the reader with all we have to come to expect from author Bernard Cornwell. If you know Cornwell's writing, this novel will not disappoint, similarly if you have never heard of the name, I would encourage you make his acquaintance.
During the Civil War a Copperhead was generally held to be a Northerner who sympathised with the Southern cause. Within the pages of this book, although he is the son of a Boston abolitionist minister, Nathaniel Starbuck fights for the South. If you know your Civil War history - and that is no way a requirement for this novel - the action depicted within the pages of `Copperhead' takes us from Ball's Bluff near Leesburg in Virginia to Gaines Mill close to Richmond. However, the main part of the novel takes Starbuck away from the battlefield and into the arena of espionage and deceit. The book also gives us an insight into the insecurities of the Northern generals, in particular McClellan and his `spymaster' Allan Pinkerton.
There is no doubt that in Nate Starbuck, Cornwell attempts to create the heroics of Richard Sharpe (for those who don't know, Cornwell has written a whole clutch of novels about English rifleman Richard Sharpe who served both in India and the Napoleonic Wars). To some extend he has succeeded in this, although at times `Copperhead' lacks the pace of some of the Sharpe novels. Nevertheless, I enjoyed `Copperhead', it is in the main well written and informative and is without a doubt an entertaining read.
As a point of interest, although I'd recommend the reader to work his/her way through the series in order, it is not vital that you do this as each novel is self-contained.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the bunch May 23 2002
By General Pete - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As this book opens Starbuck is in trouble. He has just beem drummed out of the regiment on(false) charges of incompitance. So he travles to Richmond seeking help and too make matters worse he is frammed.
This is my favorite book in the serise. We are introduced to several new chacters
1. Gordon Swinyard(he grows on you)
2. Patrick Le'sawn(Richard Sharp's son)
I really enjoyed this book, you can always trust Cornwell to give you a good battle and to question your outlook on life as you are reading his books.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT CIVIL WAR SERIES April 18 2006
By H. S. Wedekind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I expected the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles to be like the Sharpe series, but I was initially disappointed when I started reading REBEL (Book 1 of the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles). It took about one hundred pages to introduce the characters and setting and I almost gave up. Lucky for me I didn't. The story took off and kept me enthralled throughout with Cornwell's excellent telling of the Battle of Bull Run. I continued to be entertained in COPPERHEAD, though the action and adventure were more concerned with espionage than the confusion and horror of the battlefield.

I don't understand how some reviewers could complain that Nate Starbuck was unlikable. He grew on me as I watched him stumble and fall and learn from his mistakes to become a better person and an able officer.

I was also happily surprised to see that Mr. Cornwell introduced us to French Colonel Patrick Lasan, the son of Richard Sharpe and Lucille Castineau. Battlescarred and wearing an eyepatch, Col. Lasan is a rogue and adventurer just like his father. I wish there had been more scenes with him and Nate in the book.

All in all, this is a great Civil War series. I hope Mr. Cornwell will write another book in the Starbuck Chronicles.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent addition to the series Aug. 10 2012
By Steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Copperhead picks up the Nathaniel Starbuck series at Ball's Bluff and the Pennisular Campaign. Although the entire book is devoted to a fairly narrow slice of the war, the plot moves at an enjoyable pace. There aren't many new characters introduced, which isn't a bad thing. There are a couple of attempts to explain Starbuck's curious choice to fight for the South (a "copperhead"), despite the fact he was born and raised in Boston. As in the first book, the explanations don't come across as particularly believable. However, it does serve as a mechanism to support an espionage subplot that's interesting. The book stands by itself, but I'd recommend reading the initial installment first.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good civil war fictional story Dec 22 2004
By Jason Mackey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Cornwell's 2nd installment in the Starbuck Chronicles builds on the first novel. Nate Starbuck is the hero with similar characteristics as found in Cornwell's other novels.

While some reviewers find this formula tired, I find it very entertaining. With every successful novel, I grow a little fonder of Cornwell's characters.

I also enjoy the way Cornwell interposes true to life characters from the Civil war into the story.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I recommend this series.
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