Madness is a story of a young Irish-American immigrant, Will Quinn, embittered by the oppressions visited upon his family by the English and who now finds himself facing the real prospect that his beloved new nation and his family would once again suffer under the tyrannical rule of John Bull. Quinn is not unlike his adopted nation, impetuous and angry, determined to win the respect and liberty that is the God-given right of every person and nation.
Quinn in his search for adventure, has signed up in America’s tiny regular army, and finds himself in a war against his old nemesis, Great Britain. If he is captured, he can be returned to England and hanged as a traitor. As much as he wants to “kill a Brit” he repeatedly finds himself in mortal danger, through no fault of his own but thanks to the incompetence, cowardice, avarice and hubris of the senior officer corps.
Luckily, he meets Sgt. Maj. Judah Frake, a volunteer militia marksman and frontiersman from Kentucky. He takes the hot-temperated and inexperienced Quinn under his wing, perhaps saving the young man’s life. Along the way, Quinn also meets Sally Martin, whose family was slaughter by renegade Pottawatomies in the wilderness that was to become Chicago. The two fall in love, but can their relationship survive this disastrous war?
Then there is Henry, a fugitive slave, who crosses Quinn’s and Sally’s paths and ends up playing an unexpected and important role in the war. Henry symbolizes enslaved African Americans whom few people remember figured in the war, especially in Virginia and Maryland.
Through the eyes of these fictional characters, readers are introduced to real events of the war. Nothing about the war is made up, even the surprising stuff that many readers will say, “This couldn’t be true.”
But it all was. It is my hope that this fast-paced and exciting novel will bring the war to life for generations of Americans who, if they have not forgotten about the war, don’t comprehend its importance in shaping what the United States has become today.