Emily Recommends: All Other Nights, by Dara Horn (new in paperback)

Aside from being an outstanding novel of adventure and intrigue, All Other Nights gave me an entirely new perspective on the American Civil War. The novel tells the story of a young Jewish man, Jacob Rappaport, who leaves home to join the Union Army. He is recruited as a spy, and is sent to the South to kill his uncle, a Confederate who is part of a plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Later, he is assigned a mission to infiltrate a Southern family of four sisters, suspected Confederate agents.

The author keeps the plot tension high, while successfully exposing deeper issues of dedication, sacrifice and moral dilemma throughout: Where did one’s loyalty lie–with family, cultural tradition, territory? Did Jewish Confederates feel an additional moral struggle owning slaves? Did Jewish Americans resent fighting for a country in which they themselves were discriminated against?.

The characters are engaging, even when they make despicable decisions. Some actual historical figures and events appear in the narrative (did you know that the Secretary of State for the Confederacy–Judah Benjamin–was Jewish?). Through her riveting tale of individual lives and a divided nation, Ms. Horn has shown us how being Jewish during the Civil War added an extra layer of interior struggle to those who lived through it.
— Emily