Powers’s debut novel, The Yellow Birds, a National Book Award finalist, offered a poignant rumination on America’s reverence for patriotism but simultaneous amnesia regarding the lives of deployed soldiers in a story drawn from the author’s own experience as an Iraq War veteran. This second novel, set in Powers’s hometown of Richmond, VA, probes the grip of traumatic memory in the aftermath of the Civil War. While former Confederate soldiers roam the backdrop of this work with conflicting convictions dictating their actions in a newly liberated South, former slaves are navigating the concept of freedom within the lingering structures of oppression. Meanwhile, a former plantation owner tries to harness Reconstruction to his advantage only to discover that redemption will not be his fate. Returning to this land, almost 100 years later, a man born shortly after the end of the war struggles to claim his memories of home. VERDICT A masterly meditation on our unbreakable connection to a world predicated on cyclical violence.