Books By George McNeish.
Is there an alternative to war?
The Alternative explores another possibility.
The Alternative is now available at
262 Piccadilly St.
or world wide on Amazon.
Truth is stranger than fiction. When I read about the atrocities of the Civil War in the USA, I was appalled. At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, fifty cannons were fired upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War had begun. Almost four years later, on April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered to General Grant at the village of Appomattox in Virginia. The devastation and death toll during those 4 years was horrendous. The military record of the United States shows that it has been at war more years than it has not, yet, it took until the 1970's and the Vietnam War before total casualties from all other wars surpassed the death toll during the Civil War. The States managed to do more damage to themselves than any other country could do. They were, indeed, their own worst enemy.
My mind could not fathom this, so I set out to write a fictional history that would make more sense. I had to investigate the time leading up to this most devastating war to find out how a country could do so much damage to itself. I found that, although Lincoln initially denied it, the root cause of the war was slavery. The war did not, and could not, end until he made slavery the main issue. On January 31, 1865 the legislation to abolish slavery was passed. Sixty-eight days later, the war would end.
If one person had done something differently, could this devastation have been avoided? I invented Bobby Johnson for that purpose. Although he initiated the chain of events that would change history, it was his best friend, a slave of his father, that was the brains behind the events that followed. I named Samson after the Bible's strong man, but Samson's strength was in his mind. I gave him information gleaned from actual history. Frederick Douglas and Booker T Washington had made great strides for the African American population in the 1800's and were my main inspirations for the novel. My four main characters, Bobby, Samson, and their wives, Ruthie and Krissy, were all instrumental in the race to end slavery before it led to war.
My novel, THE ALTERNATIVE, asks the question, Is There an Alternative to War? My hope is that future generations will consider this question when social ideals collide. Print and Kindle versions of THE ALTERNATIVE, by George McNeish, are available on Amazon.
I have recieved these emails: (quoted in part)
"I really enjoyed reading George McNeish's The Alternative. It was a real page turner that told an alternative story about the deep-seated racism that was rampant in the southern US before the Civil War. If only things had really happened as they did in the book; perhaps thousands of lives could have been saved. The characters were interesting and the books under-pinning philosophy were inspirational. The ideas set forth in the book are much needed in today's divided world. Great work George!"
I want to congratulate you on your novel- The Alternative. I could not put it down when I started reading it. Congratulations, I thought it was marvelous, and the story came alive, and made the history of the Civil War more understandable for me, as it made me realize how the majority of Southerners thought as well as others.
I'm recommending it to my friends, and club members. Has the library got copies?
Note that the London Public Library has one copy. (george)
February is Black History Month.
Just finished a book,set in the 1840's about the ugly truth of the horrendous injustice that black slaves endure. The main characters,with a Romeo & Juliette like romance, turn around this ugly history to provide a purely fictional but beautiful heartwarming ending. The book is "The Alternative " by Canadian author George McNeish
It was a real pleasure meeting you today at the Kiwanis meeting.
When I got home I glanced in your book just to get a feel for it, and was immediately engrossed in the plot and the characters!
I love the topic and the personalities of the characters.
It's very, very interesting. I can't put it down!!
If you are looking for an intriguing, uplifting "read", please consider George McNeish's Alternative! Its ingenious plot is in search of discovering how respect for human nobility can transform slavery into a more productive economy. With its cast of lively, convincible and loveable characters, this book ranks among the most inviting books I've ever read. Through its pages Bobby, his wife Ruthie with her repentant father (Mr. Lancer), Samson with his spirited wife Krissy lead us through a credible account of slavery in the mid-nineteenth century, ever conjuring up unpredictable scenes in which the well-laid scheme of abolishing slavery evolves. Their's is not a sudden "coup" that overthrows an entrenched status quo with glee and ephemeral congratulations, but a slow, measured transmutation of deeply ingrained beliefs that some human-appearing creations were definitively more like animals than themselves!! It is sobering to vicariously experience the cruelty perpetrated on humans in the name of religion and superiority. At the same time it's an inspiring "ride" through most the dialogue, imbued as it is with principles of humanity's higher nature clearly being implemented into daily life interactions and innumerable negotiations. A reader comes away with a sense of hope and vision that a saner, more harmonious world is not only possible but inevitable!!
In "Walking Together on a Path of Service" (Ruhi 7), the Institute exhorts us to to develop participants' "capacity for artistic expression through, music poetry, painting, drama or any of the various types of crafts ... as an essential element enhancing the spiritual development of participants." The Alternative embodies the term "a well written book" in 'Abdu'l-Baha's words below:
"It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful action, a well written book, pleasing garments - in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit ..."With gratitude and encouragement to George for a this commendable achievement!! Terry
Well i finished the book the day before the birthday party and i did not like the last page i guess it should say that if the Plantation owners had followed this plan it could have averted the war and it says there was no war. I thought the book was well written even after reading the background of where George got his information it was hard to remember this was fiction it was so real. I cannot remember names but have read about the two mixed race women from Bronx who were born i think South Carolina and seen them on tv and what they said about how they grew up in a home with their black mother and the white father lived in his big house with his white house what she described was very similar to what George talked about in this book. Very interesting highly recommend it.
The Alternative by George McNeish. An extremely interesting book. The reality of life as a Black Slave, in the South. As well, what a different reality of thinking in the South, could have led to in the future ideals of the United States. Twice read and enjoyed it more so, on the second read. Highly recommend, as an enjoyable evening read. Raymond
Being an only child on a large cotton plantation, Bobby Johnson naturally made friends with his father's slaves. He recognized talents and abilities in his friends that the society around him denied. As Bobby grew up, his anti-slavery views developed and grew. Being the only heir he would inherit the plantation, but he knew he could not be a slave owner. Bobby did not know how he could run a plantation without slaves, but he strongly felt this was God's will, so God would make a way.
Samson was one of the Johnson slaves and Bobby's best friend. Knowing Bobby's dilemma Samson not only found a way that Bobby could operate slave free, but he expanded his idea to give freedom to all slaves. His method hinged on the idea of a cooperative society were all worked together towards a common good.
After the slaves were freed on the Johnson plantation, Samson and Bobby continued to work towards expanding their new methods to other plantations. Bobby felt that great disaster, possibly a civil war, would afflict the USA if this new system was not spread fast enough. They raced against time to establish a new way of thinking among slaves and slave owners who knew nothing but the slavery system.
Two Hundred years of slavery had altered the consciousness of the people to the extent that injustice, cruelty and torture seemed to be the norm. False beliefs were firmly established and it took much effort and persistence to change a way of thinking and prevent a war.
Here is the Introduction
In 1861 the USA would go to war. This would be the most devastating war they ever engaged in. In fact it would take until 1970 and the Vietnam war before the number of American casualties in all other wars the USA fought in exceeded the number of losses in this war. In 1861 the USA would meet its worst enemy. It would go to war with itself.
It seemed unbelievable that a democratic country could cause so much affliction to its own people. I began to uncover the reasons for this war. They all centered around one fact. The US laws allowed a horrendous crime to be perpetrated against people of African descent. These people had been stolen from their homelands and forced, as prisoners of war, to emigrate to a distant land where they could get no help. They were treated as livestock and refused any human rights. As property, their owners held the rights to do with them as they pleased. Property has no rights.
John Brown saw the plight of these wronged ones and went to war for them. He was executed for his role in fighting against injustice. He handed a prophetic note to a guard the day of his execution. He had written, "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that, without very much bloodshed, it might be done." Thirteen months later the Civil War began.
Could this war have been averted? I began to toy with that idea. What if one ordinary person would have done things differently? I invented Bobby Johnson as that very ordinary person. What follows is pure fiction. The opposition that Bobby met was far greater than I anticipated and I began to doubt if he could, even in fiction, prevent a war. However, with the help of a fictionalized God, he accomplished great things. Although truth is stranger than fiction I wrote The Alternative to be a fiction that was more believable than the truth. I brought out the reasons for Bobby's desperation and revealed a very evil side of slavery. The events portrayed never happened but similar situations may have occurred. Many may argue that these evil atrocities occurred very infrequently, but the fact that the law allowed them to happen suggested to me that they likely happened more often than we would like to believe. For those who argue that such events were very rare I ask, "how often does a little girl need to be raped before it matters?" 40,000 would only represent about one percent of the slave population. Are we okay with that many rapes, murders, child abuses or other horrendous crimes? Bobby saw firsthand these appalling situations and could not live in a society that allowed them to continue unpunished.
Although they considered their human chattels as livestock, slave owners took advantage of the fact that slaves could be bred by themselves. I bring this behavior home when Ruthie, the daughter of such a slave owner not only realizes that she is a half sister of some of her father's slaves, but that her father had a preference for young girls. The anguish this 14 year old faces when she realizes her best friend was impregnated by her father is one of the most emotional parts of the book. Yet how many young girls had to face these facts in real live. Ruthie became my most complex character.
The story took many surprising turns as I was writing it. At times I did not know what my characters would do next. I started out with a vague idea that I was writing an alternative to the civil war. My characters took on a life of their own as I set the challenge before them. It is they, and not I, that worked through the difficulties and solved the problems. I was completely unaware of how challenging this task would be.
Inspiration from History
My greatest inspiration was Fredrick Douglass. It was not enough for me to read his words or what others had written about him. I had to transport myself back in time so I could sit at his feet and listen to his stories. Although Fredrick Douglass was born a slave, I feel he was one of the most brilliant people in history. What he accomplished from such humble beginnings is unbelievable. Much of my observation of the time period I wrote about came from his perspective.
Much of the methodology used by my characters came from Booker T. Washington who was born a slave and was freed after the Civil War. This brilliant man went from being a slave to founding a university so impressive that the President of the United States paid a visit to it.
I also relied on the perspective given by Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Fredrick Douglass had met the author and read the book, so it was a must read for me.
Finally I give credit to Solomon Northup for his description of slavery in Louisiana. I chose a locale close to were 12 years a Slave was played out due to the knowledge I gained from his book. I borrowed his description of how slave labour was used on a cotton plantation. His report of the 1845 destruction of the cotton crop gave me an opportunity to use actual history as a turning point for my story. He and some characters from his book make cameo appearances in The Alternative.
In the my epilogue I end it with these words;
I fully admit that the preceding has been pure fiction. I don't blame anyone if they find it unbelievable, but consider this, is it not more believable than thinking that a nation could cause more destruction and loss of life to its own people than any outside force has ever done? The history of the USA is filled with wars, yet no war took more American lives than the civil war. It took until the 1970's before US casualties in all other wars exceeded the lives lost in this most devastating war.
The horrible destruction of this war was not its only drawback. Reconstruction took more than one hundred years and still prejudice lingers between the white race and the race they formerly enslaved. The bitterness of losing a war and being forced into a value system that they did not agree with meant that the former slave owners did all in their power to assure the ones they had held as chattels could not prosper. There is times when injustice must be stopped no matter the cost. The horrendous system of North American slavery was very evil and the cost of stopping it was very high.
Through changing laws, we prevent outward acts of slavery from being manifested, but until the heart changes, the spirit of slavery will remain. Slavery was a legal way for one group of people to exploit another and exploitation of others is not yet against the law. Indeed those inflicted with the disease of greed will continue to find ways around the laws so that they may exploit and take advantage of those less fortunate. Not until they realize that these practices are not only hurting their victims but are holding back all of society, including themselves, will they have a change of heart. Once one experiences the joy of cooperation and helping others succeed, he will never again resort to greed.
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