If Someday Comes
To know the United States of America requires you to know its history, and a big part of that history is the Civil War, when American citizen turned on American citizen. As Shelby Foote observed, “to understand America, you must first understand the Civil War.” And to understand the Civil War, you have to know of slavery and what America was like when slavery ruled its people, whether they were slave owners or slaves themselves. Author David Calloway, in his book If Someday Comes: A Slave’s Story of Freedom, goes one step further, “The war defined us then, defines us now.”
This is the story of George Calloway, David Calloway’s great-grandfather, who was born into slavery on January 8, 1829. While the author considers it a work of historical fiction, it is more “fact than fiction” with the immense amount of research the author has done, immersing himself in the lives of his relatives as he was taken “to the town of Cleveland, Tennessee, to slave schedules, to the front of an old family bible.”
Under the author’s hand, we don’t get just to see the day-to-day lives of these incredible people, but he takes crucial time to describe scenery and architecture and the way everything looks, which not only gives context but brings the very story to life before the reader’s eyes. In this way, you live George’s life vicariously, as he suffered through slavery, to his service to his country in the Civil War, to the family and legacy he fostered and grew, which continues to thrive until this day.
David Calloway has written a powerful and moving story in If Someday Comes. His writing style draws the reader in from the very first page, and when they realize these are real people from American history, it becomes all the more compelling. The story is presented in chronological order, along with dates for each chapter. The book also provides a map of Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1863, along with a family tree for George Calloway that is as accurate as historical sources allow.
But the real gems are the photos the author has inserted into the book of George and other Calloways, as well as photos of the Calloway house at different points in time, and other incredible pieces of history like the American and Confederate flags in 1861, and a Miscegenation ball flyer, to name a few. Calloway also provides a list of illustrations for easy reference.
If Someday Comes is a moving story of a man’s life that has its dark moments in slavery but also moments of light and beauty in Calloway’s family; it is a story not easily forgotten.
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