Savages Station is evocative and ambitious. The combat scenes were consistently compelling, bringing to mind the great narratives of Civil War battles by historians such as Douglas Southall Freeman. The novel is a meditation — on war, slavery, bravery, art and loss. I found myself also curious to read and know more about Pietro del Fabro’s own experiences as a veteran and an artist working with materials whose intention was to evoke and commemorate an experience at once remote in time but immediate in relevance to this country. I was also intrigued to learn that Waterloo, New York, was the birthplace of Memorial Day and the “final stop” on a line of the Underground RR on its way into Canada. Don’t miss this book.
Screenwriter: Source Code (2011), Boychoir (2014), Flatliners (2017)
I enjoyed Savages Station very much. The novel has a very readable style, and a deft touch with language.
Civil War Historian: General Grant and the Rewriting of History (2013)
Savages Station is difficult to put down, and not just because of its mesmerizing narrative. It is beautifully written, perhaps because del Fabro’ s life as a sculptor and artist has pushed him to create vivid sensory word-images of light, movement, smell and sound. Some of these images bring close the horror of war, and some the beauty of everyday moments. Del Fabro leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of why the painful legacy of this bloodiest of our wars persists so stubbornly. The book begins with a mysterious encounter that lays bare the sense of wrong that lingers, especially among confederate descendants in the South. As this first story in the triptych of interlocking lives unfolds, we learn that the way we have passed on the story of this war can distort and corrupt the present. And so, as del Fabro stages the rest of the story, we learn that the converging vantage points of his characters began with original primary research. That research started with the design of a memorial for the young men from Waterloo, NY who died in the war, some fighting for the North, and some for the South. Beneath the plot lines of the book, made all the more intriguing because we know they began with true stories recently uncovered, we are led to think about the meaning of remembrance, and memorial. How art conveys this is something we see throughout the book and in some surprising ways, including a journey taken by Gen. Jackson to Italy and marks left on bricks by slaves forced to make them for a courthouse of “justice” in Vicksburg, Mississippi. But I do not want to spoil all of the surprises—I highly recommend this book.
I read Savages Station over Memorial Day weekend and loved it! I think it is extremely poignant and well-written and does give a different take on the Civil War. The extensive research for the work is obvious, even though it is a work primarily of fiction. The connections drawn between North and South, slave and free, battlefield, home and prison and 19th and 20th Centuries are very stark and vivid. The author even brings Italy into the story and with great effect.
Joseph P. DiGangi
Hobart-William Smith Professor Emeritus of Political Science