WILSON, N.C. — May 12, 2020 — “Everyone has a story, and the writer’s role is to tell it,” shares Southern author and Barton College professor Michael K. Brantley. His newest book, “Galvanized: The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate,” captures the essence of a turbulent time in this nation’s history through the story of his great-great-grandfather’s experience during and after the Civil War. The historical, non-fiction narrative includes, war, intrigue, peace, politics, and murder. “Galvanized” hit the shelves on May 1 and has already created a buzz regionally.
Much of “Galvanized” is set in North Carolina and depicts the many twisting turns of Wright Stephen Batchelor’s journey through and beyond the Civil War. Like most North Carolina farmers, Batchelor eschewed slaveholding. He also opposed secession and war, yet he fought on both sides of the conflict. During his time in each uniform, Batchelor barely avoided death at the Battle of Gettysburg, was captured twice, and survived one of the war’s most infamous prisoner-of-war camps. He deserted the Union Army, and, after walking hundreds of miles, rejoined his comrades at Petersburg, Virginia, just as the Union siege there began. Once the war ended, Batchelor returned on foot to his farm, where his life’s journey took even more unexpected turns.
Brantley explains that his second book was written to “offer a history, a personal story, and a plea to look at this era in American history from other viewpoints, to move the camera from its fixed position, perhaps around to the side. There is rarely a time or place or situation, particularly in regard to history, where people would not benefit from such a consideration.”
The authenticity of Brantley’s writing style creates a thirst to better understand the complex lives of these real-life characters during this chaotic and violent period in America’s history—a thirst that is quenched with one revelation after another as the story unfolds. “My mission in the book is for people to understand that you can’t simplify the Civil War,” Brantley emphasizes.
Brantley’s threaded details are concise, but colorful. They create a vivid picture that draws the reader into a world that often seems foreign, even while one easily recognizes the named battles that drenched this native soil. Brantley is quick to note that his book doesn’t glorify war or any of its participants. Rather, he sees his role as one who reveals the struggles, the conflicts, the contradictions, the conscience, and the morals of the American people during the middle of the 19th century.
Brantley further explains that his research for the book “sometimes solidified my thoughts on the Civil War, sometimes shifted them, but most often conflicted them even more … Study and broad reading of the American Civil War at once produces sadness, anger, and wonder at the waste of life and treasure, all of which should have been avoided. That it was not reveals the worst of the character of the time. The fact that the nation reunified and persevered reveals the best.”
Jon Pineda, author of “Let’s No One Get Hurt,” sums up the book succinctly, “Michael Brantley’s ‘Galvanized’ is a conscientious and sweeping hybrid narrative gathering together fragments of the author’s personal history—that of his great-great-grandfather’s life in nineteenth century North Carolina—alongside elaborately researched accounts of the Civil War. When Brantley offers, ‘These were stories that had become interesting to me, the stories about real people, regular people,’ he focuses our attention on the plural, people, and reminds us how interconnected our histories are and forever will be.”
“Galvanized: The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate,” published by the University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, is available in hardcover through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
About the author —
In 2019, Brantley was awarded an Archie K. Davis Fellowship from the North Caroliniana Society for research on a third book project. His first book, “Memory Cards: Portraits from a Rural Journey,” was published in 2015.
Brantley has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte), a Master of Arts degree in English from East Carolina University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Barton College.
He currently serves his undergraduate alma mater, Barton College, as an assistant professor of communications and advises the student newspaper. His research and writing interests include North Carolina history, baseball, bluegrass and roots music, American history, Southern culture, and folklore.
He also has worked as a freelancer for state, national, and regional magazines covering music, agriculture, sports, collectibles, and business. His column, “The Soapbox,” won Best Humor Column for Weekly Papers in 2000 from the North Carolina Press Association.
An acclaimed photographer, Brantley earned his Master of Photography and his Craftsman degree from the Professional Photographers of America, and his Fellow of Photography from the Professional Photographers of North Carolina. Over the course of his 18-year career, his photographs have won state, regional, and international honors, including three Fuji Masterpiece Awards, three Southeastern Professional Photographers Association (SEPPA) Distinguished Awards, and a PPA International Loan Print. His North Carolina awards include several first place honors, and a Best of Show in 2003.
Brantley and his wife Kristi, a historian, and their children make their home in rural Nash County in eastern North Carolina.
For more information about the author and his books, visit his website at www.michaelkbrantley.com, or on social media at Facebook and Twitter.