I think I might qualify as a Crunchy Conservative. I wear Birkenstocks whenever weather permits. My wife and I worry about our children becoming too much the target market. We buy organic an awful lot. When my friends and I grapple with issues, we ask the age-old question: What would Wendell Berry do?
For author Harry Stout, the legitimacy of going to war (jus ad bellum) is one thing; the legitimacy of how the war is conducted (jus in bello) is another. The moral problem of the Civil War does not lie in the decision to go to battle—according to Stout, preserving the Union and eradicating slavery offered reason enough. He makes clear that he is not a pacifist and that fighting is sometimes a lesser evil. Rather, the moral problem lies in how the war was conducted.
Paul Shepherd’s novel concerns the complex brew of loyalty and judgment that often characterizes relationships between father and son. This impressive debut novel resembles Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead with its masterful characterization, narrative economy, finely tuned prose and attention to the inner contours of spiritual dilemmas.