In July 2010, Shane's first book, Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption was released by Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, Louisiana. The book tells the life story of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from a spiritual perspective. Culminating in his post-War conversion to Jesus Christ.
NEWS & REVIEWS
From The Daily Oklahoman, January 9, 2011
‘Redemption' tells of general's life, conversion
Book review: “Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption” by Shane E. Kastler. Read more: http://newsok.com/redemption-tells-of-generals-life-conversion/article/3530344#ixzz1BgX8kmog
In “Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption” (Pelican Publishing Co., $23), Shane Kastler, a Southern Baptist minister, examines the life of the Confederacy's Nathan Bedford Forrest, a successful general in the Civil War's western theater. In “Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption” (Pelican Publishing Co., $23), Shane Kastler, a Southern Baptist minister, examines the life of the Confederacy's Nathan Bedford Forrest, a successful general in the Civil War's western theater. He was also known for his presence at the notorious Fort Pillow Massacre. Although Forrest was involved in the early days of the Ku Klux Klan, Christianity had some influence on him via his mother and wife. Toward the end of his life, Forrest had a conversion and tried to make up for mistakes in his life by being charitable toward blacks and whites. Kastler compares Forrest to St. Paul, who also was a notorious sinner but who had a conversion and became a staunch defender and promoter of Christianity. This book is highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War and in stories about conversions. — Benet Exton
From Civil War News, November 2010
Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption By Shane E. Kastler
(Reviewed by Janet Bucklew) (November 2010 Civil War News)
Photographs, notes, bibliography, index, 176 pp., 2010, Pelican Publishing Co., www.pelicanpub.com, $23.
In 1875 Nathan Bedford Forrest accepted an invitation to speak before the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association in Memphis, Tenn. The civil rights group, composed mainly of local members of the free black community, issued the invitation as an act of reconciliation toward Forrest.
While difficult to believe, his words that day spoke of service to “one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment.” He reassured his audience: “When you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief.”
By this time, author Shane Kastler contends, the controversial Confederate general had repented of his sins and accepted the gift of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.
To many, Nathan Bedford Forrest is beyond social redemption and forgiveness. Kastler’s in-depth research reveals a warrior who fought for the Confederacy, yet in later years became contrite, repentant and, most importantly, a sincere, vocal advocate of social justice for freed slaves.
After his father died in 1837, 16-year-old Nathan became the head of the Forrest household and helped his mother raise his seven siblings. Responsibility, discipline, and the harsh realities of frontier life drove him to work in the fields all day.
He spent his evenings “making buckskin leggings and shoes and coon-skin caps for his younger brothers. Providing for his family left little time for spiritual reflection. While having a respect for God, Forrest made little time in his life for spiritual growth.”
In 1843, Nathan’s mother remarried and left Nathan to pursue his own goals. While working for his uncle’s horse-trading business, Forrest utilized his organizational skills learned on the farm. During this time his legendary temper began surfacing, thereby giving his life a volatile edge that even marriage to Mary Ann, a committed Christian, could not curb.
Forrest spent time as a slave trader and, although the author does not absolve Forrest of blame for this conduct, he does state that Forrest was a man of his times, which included slavery.
Even though Forrest was unschooled in military matters, the Civil War brought to the forefront his extraordinary skills in strategy and combat. William Tecumseh Sherman gave Forrest the sobriquet “that devil Forrest,” a name that later meant more than just someone who refused to surrender or lose a battle.
A chapter is devoted to the incident at Fort Pillow, Tenn. (often called the Fort Pillow Massacre). Local residents informed Forrest of plundering by the Union garrison at the fort. Forrest received several requests from local families to reprimand the Union soldiers for their alleged atrocities against noncombatants.
After several attempts to discuss surrender of the fort under a flag of truce, the Union soldiers openly taunted Forrest and his men.
Tensions and emotions surpassed the point of no return. When Forrest successfully attacked Fort Pillow, many Federal soldiers attempted to surrender, while others continued fighting. During the fighting and attempted surrender, 62 of 262 black Union soldiers, many freed or escaped slaves fighting for the Federal army, were killed.
The controversy regarding Fort Pillow followed Nathan Bedford Forrest for the rest of his life. (For a different perspective, see Andrew Ward’s River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War, which was reviewed in CWN in about 2005.)
Kastler’s book examines Forrest’s involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, primarily his recruitment of KKK members. The author explains, but does not justify, this behavior as understandable in light of the frustration and fears in the South during Reconstruction.
The author’s thesis is the redemptive power of God in the life of this much-maligned individual. While many will continue to debate and demonize Forrest, this author contends that where sin is present, grace can also be found.
Reviewer: Janet Bucklew
Janet L. Bucklew, M.A., American Studies, Pennsylvania State University, has worked for several museums including Gettysburg National Military Park and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. She wrote Dr. Henry Janes: Country Doctor & Civil War Surgeon andhas extensive background in public history, research and interpretation.
Civil War Book Review: Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption http://www.brettschulte.net/CWBlog/2010/09/22/civil-war-book-review-nathan-bedford-forrests-redemption/
September 22nd, 2010 by James Durney Get Shareaholic for Internet ExplorerNathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption
by Shane Kastler
■Hardcover: 176 pages
■Publisher: Pelican Publishing (October 1, 2010)
If you wish to start a heated discussion praise/damn Forrest on a Civil War board. Forrest is always a hot topic with strong opinions being voice by both sides. A large segment of our community hates him. A slave trader, early member or founder of the Ku Klux Klan and his actions at Fort Pillow guarantee a large part of the group will attack. A very effective general, victor in a number of battles, an accomplished fighter guarantees a large part of the group will defend. In many ways, this subject has been done to death. The issue is decided and discussion closed. It is a brave author that will walk into this lion’s den. An even braver author that will portray Forrest’s life as a journey on the road to salvation.
This book works on several levels making for a lively and uplifting read.
First, it is a testament to the author’s faith in God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ. Shane E. Kastler is an ordained Southern Baptist Minister and active in his faith. He wrote this book as an example of salvation and a statement of faith. That is not to say he is preaching or overly religious here. However, this is a book about one man’s journey to Jesus Christ and the author covers the subject.
Second, this is a very good short biography of Forrest. The author has a clear easy style that conveys information, describes individuals and involves the reader. His history is clear and balanced without hiding the truth. This is not a “Forrest is a wonderful brilliant person” nor is it “the evil murderous Forrest”. I have read a couple of books on Fort Pillow and heard Ed Bearss lecture on Forrest. I noticed nothing in the biography that is not part of the historical record.
Lastly, this book covers Forrest after the war. This is uncharted waters for many of us, the standard story includes the Klan but very little else. The author devotes a quarter of the book to this subject. We follow Forrest’s business ventures, quest for a pardon, his trial for killing Thomas Edwards, his health problems and his conversion. Most readers will find a number of surprises here. This portion was, for me, the most enjoyable part of the book. As he ages, Forrest becomes more aware of God and draws closer to Him. The author has skillfully shown Forrest’s respect for religion and association with it over his life. Now he draws these threads together as Forrest accepts Christ and lives a Christian life.
This is a book for many people. The Civil War community will enjoy the biography and the history. The religious community will find comfort and joy in the story of Forrest’s salvation. The casual reader will enjoy a well-written uplifting story. Physically, this is a handsome book, well illustrated and easy to read.
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From Cold Steel, Civil War newsletter:
Forrest the Christian
By Rev. Michael R. Bradley, PhD
Forrest Cavalry (Reorganized) Chaplain
As Chaplain of the Forrest Cavalry Corps it is a little unusual for me to write a book review for the group but a very special book has just come to my attention. The book is written by the Rev. Mr. Shane E. Kastler, a Baptist minister and member of the S.C.V., and is titled Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption. There are many biographies of Forrest but this is a spiritual biography which tells of the developing religions beliefs and convictions of the General over the course of his life. The focus of the book is the role religion played in the life and career of Forrest during the war. The book ends with a detailed account of the religious conversion of Forrest and his decision to become a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Although Forrest was called “that Devil” by Sherman, and was no doubt called much worse by many Yankees, his life was not controlled by demonic forces. Forrest had a temper and he sometimes lost control of it; he could use rough and vulgar language when provoked and did so on many occasions; he shared the prejudices and views of most people of his time but Nathan Bedford Forrest was as much a child of God as any other human. In time, Forrest came to realize this and to act as such.
This book will not silence those who want to demonize Forrest and who wish only to emphasize his faults but it will give them something to think about. For those of us who admire Old Bedford the book reveals a dimension of his life which most of us have not thought about at all. For that reason it should be on the reading list of every member of Forrest’s Cavalry Corps. Because it tells a story of redemption and salvation I can recommend it as Chaplain. Ask for this book at your bookstore or ask Elm Springs to stock it in the bookstore at Headquarters.
From the Linn County News, Sept. 1, 2010:
Deliberations of a man’s salvation
Former First Christian Church Pastor Shane Kastler publishes book
Most people in the Pleasanton area and in Linn County will likely recognize the name of the author of a new title recently released by Pelican Publishing. Shane E. Kastler, former pastor of the First Christian Church of Pleasanton, and author of our featured column, “Seeking Higher Ground,” saw the release of his new book, “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption,”on July 16, 2010.
The novel explores the spiritual aspect of a man who staked his place in history as “a devil,” Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Detailing Forrest’s life from his childhood on the frontier to his exploits in the Civil War to his life following the War Between the States, Kastler takes a hard look at the man’s spiritual deliverance. F o r r e s t was well known as a slave trader before the Civil War and for his quick temper and his decisiveness which often led to violence, such as the account of the massacre at Fort Pillow.
Kastler’s book, however, looks closer at the man who was a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, yet later renounced the organization and became a strong advocate of the African American people and what may have brought him to that turning point. Written in a voice that is easily understood by the layperson, the book offers a detailed view of where the man came from as well as the meek and pious man Forrest Eventually became.
Daniel Foxx, coauthor of another book focused on Forrest (Nathan Bedford Forrest: In Search of an Enigma), said, “Kastler gives us all hope of the Lord’s forgiveness as he recounts with liberal scriptural references the redemption of Nathan Bedford Forrest.”
“Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption is a good reminder that history is not nearly as tidy as many would like it, as well as a powerful reminder that in the midst of that messy history, God’s grace can reach anyone,” said Pastor Douglas Wilson of the Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho.
Kastler, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He received his B.B.A. from Northeastern State University and then was awarded a M.Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A recipient of the LifeWay Preaching Award, Kastler authors two religious blogs and continues to contribute to the Linn County News on a weekly basis.
From San Angelo (TX) Times, Aug. 15, 2010:
Books Capture Different Elements of Civil War
By Ross McSwain
… Another publication that may interest Civil War buffs is Shane Kastler’s book, “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption,” from Pelican Publishing Co. of Gretna, La. This hardcover biography, containing a number of photos, notes, a bibliography and index, is priced at $23, and is an interesting study of Forrest, one of the Confederacy’s most controversial leaders. From Forrest’s childhood through his involvement in the Civil War and the Ku Klux Klan to his later conversion to Christianity, this spiritual story follows the general on his journey to salvation.
A number of chapters detail Forrest’s days as a slave trader and recall his escapades in the war, including such battles as Sand Mountain, Okolona and the Fort Pillow massacre, which branded him with a reputation as a relentless and victorious warrior. The book also reveals an unfamiliar side of the general, giving details of his meeting and marriage to a pious Presbyterian who likely influenced his later devotion to faith. While he served briefly as the headman of the KKK, he eventually called for it to be disbanded, and he became an advocate for blacks.
His radical transformation from being a dedicated Confederate general to being a rather meek individual may alter many common conceptions. The author of the book, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, also is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Douglas Wilson, a Moscow, Idaho, minister, notes that the book “is a good reminder that history is not nearly as tidy as many would like it, as well as a reminder that in the midst of that messy history God’s grace can reach anyone.” It’s a good addition to any Civil War library.