Read this book
You may have read enough UU history to know that Bronson Alcott was an idealistic Transcendentalist associate of Emerson and Thoreau, an impractical thinker of large thoughts who made and then frittered away a small fortune and depended on his daughter's writing income to support him in his old age.
Or you may have read the children's classic, Little Women, written by Famous UU Louisa May Alcott, his daughter. You may even know that the setting of the book -- the four daughters and mother of the March family growing up in a Civil War-era household while Mr. March was largely absent -- is thought to be styled after her own family.
Now, author Geraldine Brooks has filled the gaps in Louisa's well-loved story by supplying the narrative of the absent Mr. March -- his service as a Unitarian chaplain to the Union troops, as well as his earlier life history -- in her Pulitzer-winning novel, March. Following Louisa's pattern, she carefully constructs the Mr. March character on the model of Louisa's own father, Bronson.
The novel is a poignant study in the conflict betweeen idealism and evil, a conflict in which idealism does not necessarily triumph, and perhaps offers lessons for ourselves as Alcott's successors carrying the standard of liberal religion forward into our own evil-tinged time.
Read it. You'll be glad you did.