Battlegrounds of Memory

Clay Lewis

A memoir of southern family spanning the wilderness frontier, the Civil War, and the Great Depression


"Battlegrounds of Memory has passionate intensity. It is an important and exciting book about family and self-acceptance"
—Steven Harvey, author of Lost in Translation

"There is poetry and a touch of Proust in this fine memoir in which absence is at the heart of history."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In Battlegrounds of Memory Clay Lewis crosses seven generations of his family to illuminate a heritage of romantic hope and abject defeat, seeking freedom from the past by understanding it. His story is a cry from the heart, reaching into the depths of a family's collective soul and finding hope in the midst of despair.

Heritage was a heavy burden on Lewis's parents, children of the South whose denial of their past bound them more tightly to it. Their battles with each other and their son followed old patterns of intergenerational conflict. The book opens with a harrowing scene in which the author as a teenager is urged by his mother to discipline his drunken father on Christmas Eve. In the forty years since he assaulted his father that night, Lewis has struggled to understand how his family was changed by the history they had experienced--the wilderness frontier, the Civil War, and the Great Depression. How they were changed ultimately became his legacy.

In the Marines he found that his capacity for violence ran deep; in his unhappy marriages he found himself repeating old mistakes. Over the years he began to recognize that the terrible wounds on both sides of his family formed patterns of scapegoats and rebels, of betrayal and grief, and finally of yearning and hope. In this knowledge he found freedom.

Battlegrounds of Memory is a work of deep courage--at times humorous and ironic, at other times melancholy and lyrical, it is told with an amazing sensitivity and passion. It is a strong testament to the force of love.

Page count: 240 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $31.95

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Clay Lewis has published work in the Southern Review, Sewanee Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Carolina Quarterly. After teaching for many years, he now lives in Washington, D.C.