Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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Apparently there wasn't enough disorder in The Battle of the Crater as interpreted by historians Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, so they took their historical novel so-titled and re-titled it as To Make Men Free.  Whatever.  The book takes its original title from an attempt by the Army of the Potomac to end the siege of Petersburg by undermining a critical fort and dropping it into a pit.  The new title probably refers to the prominent role of United States Colored Troops in preparing for the follow-on attack.

Book Review No. 15 will refer to the work as Battle, as it was by that title that I bought and read the hardback version.  I wonder if the book serves more as an allegory of Washington intrigue than as military history, no matter the title on the cover.  The usual maxim in military matters has a thousand fathers for victory, but the failure of the plan to drop the fort is clearly not an orphan: senior generals and senior engineers and more than a few quartermasters were involved.  I'm not conversant enough with the eastern campaigns to recommend a good analysis of the Battle of the Crater for comparison purposes.  Fortunately for the Union effort, the Confederacy was losing the war faster than the Federals could win it, with the failure at the Crater being followed almost immediately by the surrender of Atlanta.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

Tags: historical fiction, war

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