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Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill

'A Civil General' is a fictionalized account of the General George Henry Thomas story. Thomas earned his reputation as one of Civil War's toughest fighting generals in battles like Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Ringgold. His story is told through the first person point of view of a friend and subordinate - Colonel William Swain, a regimental commander.

Great pains were taken to make this book as historically accurate as possible. This accuracy extends all the way to language the characters use. The dialogue is well done and reads easily. The scenes from the section of the book dealing with the Battle of Chattanooga, the campaigning in Tennessee and its aftermath are very interesting and detailed. The illustrations that are used to depict them use enticing, historically accurate imagery.

The first person telling of the story develops and become more interesting as the pages turn. The second half of the story reads very quickly as the Col. Swain develops a love interest, Neala, and goes to visit her. The romance between them is tender and very well done. He communicates with her by letter and eventually marries her.

With all the sound and fury of the battles through Tennessee coming to a climax in the middle of the book, the death of General Thomas shortly thereafter unfortunately transforms his funeral into the climax of the story. The unfortunate way that several of the Washington elites and senior generals handled themselves before and during the funeral is jaw dropping and embittering. The epilogue notes that Mrs. Thomas never attended a military event. After reading this account of what happened, I can't say I blame her at all.

A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill (Sunstone Press, 2008).
ISBN: 978-0-86534-663-5
Price: $20.95, Softcover, 6x9, 160 pages.

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