Don’t Jump Straight Into the Story! Read the advance reviews and certainly don’t bypass the Foreword in a novel if the publisher thought it worthy to insert. Those added cellulose insertions have value to you, the reader. They offer perspective about the story you are about to invest hours ingesting and ruminating over. Such is a historical novel’s goal: provoking the reader’s thoughts and opinions about the past and its connection to our present and future.
If you have not yet ordered your copy of The Last Laird of Sapelo, below is what you’ll discover waiting for you in the first few pages to prepare your mind for the journey back in time. The advance reviews and Foreword in the book offer a foretaste of where Randolph Spalding and the historical characters he interacts with will take you without revealing the story that awaits. These introductory pages are designed to entice you to do so for yourself what they themselves already have done without the benefit of advance reviews and a Foreword.
Advance Praise and Reviews
I thank Patti Callahan Henry and all the advance reviewers who invested time out of their busy schedules to read the story of Randolph Spalding facing the threat of a war he could not stop. Take a moment to see a sample of what they said about the story.
“The Last Laird of Sapelo is a heart-wrenching and beautiful story of a man and his family brought to its knees by the Civil War. Life-changing choices must be made and personal integrity brought to bear during the nineteenth century when the South was swept into a brutal and complicated war. T. M. Brown brings the history of the Spalding family to vivid life with a sure and clear voice, an eye for Southern landscape, and an ear for captivating narrative. Based on a true story, this is historical fiction at its finest.” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea
“As Union forces descend on Georgia’s barrier islands during the opening stages of America’s Civil War, the South’s first casualty is its monetary lifeline — its burgeoning cotton empire, Dixie’s “white gold.” Distinguished author T.M. Brown’s historical novel The Last Laird of Sapelo spares no punches in this riveting, gut-wrenching saga of the minuscule line separating independence and freedom.” —Jedwin Smith, Author of Fatal Treasure and Our Brother’s Keeper
“T.M. Brown raises the bar for Civil War-era historical fiction. Using compelling, well-researched details, Brown writes with confidence and lyricism about neglected parts of the conflict and its impact on the coastal islands of Georgia. Civil War fiction fans need to add this novel to their bookshelves today!” —George Weinstein, Award-winning Author of the Hardscrabble Road series, Executive Director, Atlanta Writers Club, Atlanta Writers Conference Director
“This well-researched, engaging historical fiction brings to life a dramatic and little-known story of America’s bloodiest war. The Last Laird of Sapelo illuminates lesser known but crucial events in coastal Georgia and South Carolina through the true story of Colonel Randolph Spalding, a noted Sapelo Island cotton planter…Colonel Spalding’s struggles and sacrifices are vividly depicted as he faces the reality of powerful Union naval forces threatening the coasts of the Carolinas and Georgia, and he is forced to move his family and many slaves inland to safety, ultimately abandoning his beloved island plantation.” —Karen Stokes, Archivist and Author at South Carolina Historical Society
“In The Last Laird of Sapelo, T. M. Brown does a masterful job of telling the historic story of how the Civil War changed forever the Spalding family, their slaves, and the crucial barrier island of Sapelo on which they lived. He shares in detail the bonds between the Spalding family members and their servants without skirting the inhumanity of slavery. The compelling read was extensively researched and provides an interesting account in story form of how the conflict negatively impacted the owners and other inhabitants of Sapelo Island, including Randolph Spalding, who answered the call to defend the cause of the Confederate States even though he didn’t favor Secession. The Last Laird of Sapelo provides an important insight into helping us to understand one of the worst times in the history of our country. ” —Harry J. Deitz Jr., Author of Covey: A Stone’s Throw from a Coal Mine to the Hall of Fame, Our Father’s Journey: A Path Out of Poverty, and Journal of a Caregiver: A Story of Love and Devotion
“I knew nothing of either Randolph Spalding or of Sapelo Island before reading this book. But from the first chapter on, I felt thoroughly immersed in 1860s coastal Georgia as the Spalding family grappled with the challenges of war. Mike Brown’s vivid imagery and his mastery of historical detail deliver a powerful story I am already eager to read a second time.” —Lawrence W. Reed, President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global, Ambassador for Liberty
“The Last Laird of Sapelo is an impressive achievement that brings great insight to the impact of war on the normally serene and always beautiful Georgia coast. It’s a story that needed to be told, and T. M. Brown has done it in a masterful way.” —John Pruitt, Emmy Award–Winning News Anchor, Author of Tell It True
Beyond the Advance Reviews lies the Foreword
I cannot thank Lawrence W. Reed enough for sharing his thoughts so candidly to prepare you, the reader, for the journey you will encounter as you begin reading the story of Randolph Spalding as he faces the reality of a war he tried to stop but unlike his famous father, Thomas Spalding, he could not stem the tide of secession this time. The revered politician becomes a determined patriot to defend his family’s lands, legacy, and the lives he has sworn to protect. This is what Lawrence Reed discovered and shared about the story.
When I first saw the title of T. M. Brown’s latest novel, I thought to myself, “I know what a laird is, but what’s a sapelo?”
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and lived in Michigan for 30 years. A little less than 20 percent of my 70 years have been spent as a resident of a southern state—specifically the town of Newnan in north Georgia—so forgive me for knowing so little about an area just a few hundred miles southwest of me. But now, thanks to Mike, I know that Sapelo is a coastal island—and not just any coastal island but one rich in history and fascinating people.
Before this book, I thought “tabby” was one of the more common names for a house cat. Now I know it’s a kind of concrete made with oyster shells.
What took me so long to learn this? The best answer to that question is another one: What took Mike Brown so long to write this wonderful novel?!
As an accomplished author of historical fiction, Mike knows how to tell a story from the past and bring real but long-dead figures to life. This novel does not read like an aerial view of an island through the clouds from 30,000 feet. As any well-told story should accomplish, you’ll feel as you read this one that you’re on the ground, in the very midst of the challenges, joys and travails of Randolph Spalding, his family and acquaintances. You can’t help but empathize with the main characters, warts and all, and find yourself asking “What would I do in a similar situation?” As a result, the further along I journeyed through The Last Laird of Sapelo, the more I became emotionally caught up in it. And when I got to the end, I wished there was even more to read.
Though this is a work of historical fiction, the fiction aspect amplifies the history part, much more than the other way around. Readers will finish it with a much-improved understanding of what plantation life was like (albeit on one of the more enlightened such places) in mid-19th Century coastal Georgia during one of the most turbulent times in American history. You will appreciate the character of a good man because the author provides indispensable context—the cultural, economic, and political background—that framed Spalding’s decisions and behavior. Perhaps if everybody read The Last Laird of Sapelo, we would be a more understanding, thoughtful, reflective, and introspective people. Smarter too.
The famed Pulitzer Prize-winning author of southern tales, Eudora Welty, explained the powerful magnetism of a good book. In One Writer’s Beginnings (1984), she wrote,
It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them—with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.
I know now what she meant by that, and because of The Last Laird of Sapelo, more great works of historical fiction are in my future.
There is resolution to the story that Mike Brown tells here so well. No reader will feel he’s been left hanging in mid-air. Perhaps it will elicit reactions that won’t entirely match mine. But I can say as a very satisfied reader that it brought forth a wide range in me, from a whiff of nostalgia to a renewed appreciation for how remarkable individuals deal with difficulties most of us can only imagine.
To the pantheon of excellent works of historical fiction, we can thank Mike Brown for bringing us The Last Laird of Sapelo.
— Lawrence W. Reed
President Emeritus, Foundation for Economic Education
IF YOU’VE READ THE STORY ALREADY, PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO LEAVE A REVIEW TO HELP OTHERS. AMAZON, GOODREADS, and Barnes & Noble Even a rating helps curious readers. We also want to hear what you thought. Thank you.