Cover image for Delirium of the brave
Delirium of the brave
Harris, William Charles, 1947-
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 372 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
First published in the United States by Frederic C. Beil, Savannah.
Format :


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Savannah, 1864. Confederate Captain Patrick Driscoll and his dear friend and manservant Shadrack Shad Bryan leave their tearful families to help fight for the Southern cause. They are to set up fort at Raccoon Island off Georgia's coast in a last-ditch effort to save their beloved city from Union attack. But only days into their assignment, the two men die in each other's arms in a Yankee bombardment. Though the men are gone, their legacy will live on-as will the legend of the priceless Driscoll family treasure the two men have buried on Raccoon Island.
Four generations after the Civil War, many Confederate families still remain in Savannah, struggling through the twentieth-century in a South rife with hardball politics, personal vendettas and the hangover of war.
John-Morgan Hartman, son of a newspaper man and great-great grandson of Captain Patrick Driscoll, goes to serve his country in Vietnam, unaware of the physical and psychological wounds that will befall him...
Tony O'Boyle is an ambitious young politician who will stop at nothing and spare no one to get ahead-but his family's dark past will come back to haunt him...
Lloyd Bryan, descended from slaves, is determined to succeed where his ancestors didn't. But his celebrity as a professional football player immerses him in a world of temptation that ultimately turns him toward religion...
Charlotte Drayton, a successful television reporter, has always used her beauty to get her way-but the one man she can't have is the only one she wants...
After many years, four friends will meet on the very island where the two confederate soldiers died in each other's arms. To find where they buried Driscoll'streasure-and to uncover the dangerous secrets of a prominent Savannah family.
A gripping novel of history, intrigue, war, and love, Delirium of the Brave follows four generations of families contemplating the pain of the past and the promise of the future. Get swept away by this glorious saga rich with the sights, sounds, flavors, and people of the South's most stunning locale.

Author Notes

William C. Harris , a native Savannahian, is a graduate of Georgia State University and the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine. He practices podiatry in Savannah, where he lives with his wife Pamela and three daughters. This is his first novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A fictionalized account of real people and places in Savannah, Georgia, this multigenerational saga revolves around a Civil War treasure. Shortly before Captain Patrick Driscoll and his slave companion, Shadrack Bryan, die in battle in 1864, they bury the Driscoll family jewels and coins to keep them out of Yankee hands. The legend of the treasure lives on as it remains undiscovered, and the story follows the descendants and friends of the two men. It's a story with an array of corruption and perversion, including serial murder and dismemberment, fratricide, assault, extortion, war at close encounter, even a deadly beast. The Driscoll and Bryan descendants include a decorated, badly wounded Vietnam vet who leaves the seminary once fully recovered and finds his lost love and a jet-setting Dallas Cowboys star who turns priest. Written by a Savannah podiatrist and first published by a small regional press, this tells a sensational story; but with stock characterizations and a somewhat clunky, cliche-ridden narrative, its popularity may not extend beyond state lines. --Michele Leber

Publisher's Weekly Review

The success of this gossipy but somewhat overwritten debut novel by a 51-year-old Savannah, Ga., podiatrist resulted from local media buzz rather than stellar literary qualities. Originally published by the small Savannah publisher Frederic C. Beil, the novel was a word-of-mouth sleeper, eventually replacing John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on regional bestseller lists (Book News, May 17). In an auction, St. Martin's acquired world rights in what was reported (Hot Deals, July 5) to be a six-figure, two-book deal. The ambitious, well-researched roman … clef begins during the Civil War and moves into the present day, building on a legend about buried treasure on tiny Raccoon Island (one of the barrier islands that dot the coastal waterways around Savannah). The plot centers on the progeny of a young Confederate officer, Patrick Driscoll, and his devoted slave companion, Shadrack Bryan, who bury a chest of valuables to keep it from Yankee looters. Both men are killed, taking their secret to the grave. Skimming across generations, the plot leapfrogs into the late 1930s, when hot-tempered young reporter John Morgan Hartman marries into the Driscoll family. It is Hartman's son John-Morgan and John-Morgan's contemporary, Father Lloyd Bryan, who become the novel's protagonists, their destinies mixed with that of a powerful and corrupt Savannah family headed by politico Tony O'Boyle. A mythic wild boar, a serial killer, an unsolved fratricide, blackmail, sex, sleazy politics and a Hemingwayesque recovery from war-related impotence move the narrative along. While Harris lacks the storytelling gifts that have distinguished many a Southern yarn, he is skilled at plot control. Something of a diamond in the rough, the novel has enough whispered scandal about prominent families to keep reading lamps burning late in the South; whether it can develop national appeal remains to be seen. Agent, Nancy Stauffer. $100,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having barely recovered from John Berendt's gossipy Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (LJ 1/94), Savannah gentry are now dealt another literary blow with Harris's first novel, a regional best seller originally published by a small Georgia press. The difference: while Midnight concerns one Savannah murder, Delirium takes on most of that city's Irish Catholic aristocracy. In 1864, as Savannah awaits the pending invasion of Sherman's army, Confederate captain Patrick Driscoll and his slave Ezekiel Bryan bury the Driscoll family fortune on Raccoon Island. They are killed in battle before telling anyone where the treasure is hidden. Four generations of Driscoll descendants and most of Savannah search for the legendary fortune before it is finally found. Harris ably details that search, but, more importantly, he relates the story of the Driscoll and Bryan families and their conflict with the politically powerful O'Boyles. Intricately intertwined are tales of high school love gone wrong, a serial murderer who terrorizes the city, war, political intrigue, and corruption of power. Harris is a masterly storyteller, and his novel is made more compelling by its being based on truth. Midnight fans will clamor for this one. Highly recommended.ÄThomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.