34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling!
Being a civil war buff, especially when it comes to Gettysburg, I have been anxiously awaiting this novel since I read the first of this series. What I really love is the close relationship that I, as a reader, develop with each of the main characters, regardless of which side they are on. Traditionally, I have always found myself rooting silently for the Union. However,...
Published on June 4, 2004 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Keeps the Reader Engaged
The middle book of any trilogy presents a challenge for its writer. It must carefully set the stage for the climax in book three while attempting to keep the reader engaged. Overall, Gingrich and Forstchen meet this challenge successfully. Following Lee's attempt to capture Washington, D.C. after his victory at Union Mills, the reader slogs through several hundreds of...
Published on October 8, 2012 by Janie
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling!,
This review is from: Grant Comes East (Audio Cassette)
Being a civil war buff, especially when it comes to Gettysburg, I have been anxiously awaiting this novel since I read the first of this series. What I really love is the close relationship that I, as a reader, develop with each of the main characters, regardless of which side they are on. Traditionally, I have always found myself rooting silently for the Union. However, in these books I get attached to both sides and am transported to the battlefields, sharing in the agony and the glory.
The alternate history concept is just plain fun. The many "what if" questions that have been raised and the ensuing debates about Lee's choices at Gettysburg are explored here in great depth. Dr. Forstchen's Ph.D. in civil war history is evident as well as the copius research done to prepare for these books.
As far as "Grant Comes East," is concerned, I was amazed that it was actually better than book one. To me, the sequence of events in book one were pretty predictable having hypothesized similar scenarios myself. But I never took them past the "Lee gets around Mead and heads for Washington," stage. I love being taken beyond the first day in such riveting detail.
I can't wait for book three!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than 5 stars are deserved!,
If Gettysburg was phenomenal, I am at a loss for adjectives after just completing Grant Comes East! I've read a lot of Civil War novels, and this was the best since The Killer Angels. Even though this was a novel, and alternate history at that, the realism was astounding! The portrayals of Lee, Grant, Longstreet, Lincoln, and Sickles were especially true to character. I found the entire premise to be plausible, the politics so insightful that I almost felt THIS was the way it really happened. There was no wild speculation or far-fetched theories to live with in this book. "Gettysburg" began the story, with the slight detour that made all the difference--Lee listened to Longstreet, formulated a better plan, and avoided the fateful defeat at Gettysburg. This worthy sequel took the war down a different path, and absolutely every aspect was handled masterfully. Gingrich and Fortschen make a great team. I hated for the book to end, but was elated to see that it's not over...there has to be at least one more masterpiece forthcoming. Newt, please stay off the talk shows long enough to write the next installment, because I CAN'T STAND THE WAIT!!!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another well written & researched tale that entertains,
Well written, well researched, well plotted. Second in what must be at least a trilogy leaves you waiting breathlessly for book 3. I enjoy alternate history very much and this one was one of the best I've read. I recommend you read "Gettysburg" by these authors first so as to understand where "Grant Comes East" starts at, but it can certainly be read on its own. Now I just wait (im)patiently for book 3
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ripping good read! A must for Civil War buffs.,
"Grant Comes East" is the perfect title for this novel, because that is what the novel is about. This is, of course, the second installment in the authors' alternate Civil War history. In "Gettysburg-A Novel of the Civil War" the authors tell the story of an alternate history in which Lee defeated Meade by flanking him at Gettysburg. Now, in this second novel, Lee marches on Washington and Baltimore as Grant moves to the Eastern theater to take command of Union forces after Lee's defeat of General Meade. No spoilers here.
I liked this one better than "Gettysburg-A Novel of the Civil War." I felt that the writing was better and the novel was actually more plausible. In "Gettysburg" Lee does everything right, and Meade does about everything wrong. This offended my sense of fairness, since I happen to believe that Meade thoroughly out-generalled Lee at Gettysburg, and would not have done the stupid things that "Gettysburg" has him doing. In "Grant Comes East" most of the characters act more plausibly, with foibles on both sides. The authors do paint a pretty negative picture of General Sickles. I don't know enough about him to really have an opinion as to whether this is fair or not.
The prose in the novel is good, and the authors did a good job of keeping me turning the pages--I truly wanted to know what was going to happen next, and the novel kept me guessing. The storyline moves at a very brisk pace with no draggy interludes. This one is less predictable than was "Gettysburg." Nothing offended my sense of credulity, as "Gettysburg" did at times. By the way, the authors' treatment of Lincoln is very compelling and seemed to me to be true to life. Judah Benjamin (Secretary of State of the Confederacy) and Jefferson Davis are also nicely done here as well.
Overall, there is a great deal to like about this novel and series. Again, I liked this second installment quite a bit better than I did the first. We all now impatiently await the third installment of the series.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent follow-up to "Gettysburg",
Grant Comes East continues the alternate history which Gingrich and Forstchen began with "Gettysburg" last year. I thought Gettysburg was superb, and the best alternate history novel I had read at the time. The battle of Gettysburg has been subject to "What if?" scenarios ever since it was fought, and the first book in this series has provided the best written scenario to date. But what happens afterwards? That's all new territory, and I was curious as to whether they could continue the series with the same quality, attention to detail, and above all believability in how it unfolds.
Well, I'm happy to say they not only matched Gettysburg, but perhaps even outdid it a bit. The characterizations are again superb all around. I don't think I've read any other book which captures the essence of these people as well as this one does. The battle scenes were unmatched - vivid, gritty, utterly realistic, and able to convey not only the feel of the battle, but the confusion and loss which comes from it.
Because the book covers a longer timeframe, you see a lot more of the political maneuvering and how it affects the outcome of not only individual battles, but the direction of the war itself. And the progress of the campaign is a logical, extremely believable progression given the changes which occurred in the first book. Even the mistakes made by individual commanders are believable - the actual war was filled with these kinds of mistakes, many driven by the personalities and flaws of the people involved, and neither side is left off the hook.
In all, a gripping read, and a worthy successor to Gettysburg. I can't wait for the third book to come out...
36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee continues his invasion of the North in late summer 1863,
I just got around to reading "Gettysburg" by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen a couple of weeks ago and it was not until the book reached the end of the first day at the Battle of Gettysburg that I realized I was reading an alternative history of the Civil War. For that matter it was not until I read the book jacket (I hide them as soon as I buy hardcover books so that they will not give away anything) that I discovered Gingrich and Forstchen were writing a trilogy. So I was lucky in that I did not have to wait that long to read the second volume, "Grant Comes East." Now I just have to suffer a year or so until the conclusion comes out.
"Grant Comes East" is accurate as a title in that Ulysses S. Grant is ordered East by President Abraham Lincoln to take command of all Union armies and to build a new army, the Army of the Susquehanna, to engage Robert E. Lee in the Eastern Theater. However, Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia are still on center stage. Having all but destroyed the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Union Mills, the great Confederate victory south of Gettysburg on July 4, 1863, Lee has to move on Washington, D.C. and its immense fortifications. The Federal capital city may well prove too tough a nut to crack, but the Confederate general does not need President Jefferson Davis or anyone else to tell him that the Rebel army has to at least try.
It is really not fair to describe much of what happens after that point because obviously everything hinges on whether or not Lee's gambit succeeds (although I will say that I agree with how the Washington situation plays out). The military and political implications are enormous. What I can talk about is the military situation on both sides. Hood and Longstreet's divisions each have roughly 20,000 men, and Davis is sending Beauregard north to give Lee a third corps. Operating in Maryland also puts the Army of Northern Virginia near Baltimore, the Union's third largest city and one divided in its loyalties in the war and there is still the surviving corps of the Army of the Potomac to be destroyed. Meanwhile, Grant his moving most of this corps from the Army of the Tennessee to Harrisburg for his new Army of the Susquehanna, leaving William T. Sherman behind to cause havoc in Mississippi before joining the Army of the Cumberland in eastern Tennessee. Dan Sickles, the politician turned general, has showed up with his III Corps to stop the rioting in New York City and is angling for command of the Army of the Potomac, independent from Grant, not only to prove he can smash Lee but also as a stepping stone to the White House.
As is the case in the first book we see familiar faces in new contexts. In "Gettysburg" it was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain not only protecting the Army of the Potomac's flank but being sacrificed as the rear guard to save the army from complete annihilation. It was when Chamberlain ordered the 20th Maine's battle flags to be cut to pieces so that they could not be captured that I completely bought into what Gingrich and Forstchen were doing. In "Grant Comes East" another famous Civil War colonel and his regiment are called upon at a pivotal moment to save the day and reverse their personal history. There is one indulgence in having history repeat itself that I thought went a bit far (some battlefield amputations are just too choice to ignore), but overall the authors are clearly charting new ground and maps are provided so we can have some appreciation for the new battlefields over which these armies are fighting.
As important as the battles fought in the "Grant Comes East" there are the political questions of foreign intervention (Napoleon III of France is being courted by Davis) and of arming colored troops. Not only do Lincoln and Grant see the pragmatics of allowing the Negroes a stake in securing the freedom of their race, but Lee has to consider the issue seriously as well. All of these matters will have a big impact on what happens in the final volume. Civil War buffs will enjoy debating the series "what ifs" that add up to these major changes (e.g., Longstreet is transformed into Lee's new Jackson) and will appreciate that the dice are not loaded in the Confederate's favor (e.g., generals on the line continue to make stupid mistakes). The portraits of the principle players are compelling, even if not up to the level of what Harry Turnbull did with Lee in "Guns of the South," and my favorite chapter in "Grant Comes East" is an encomium on the western troops of the Union army, who never received the honor and glory accorded those who clashed in all of the textbook battles in the east.
My suspicion with this trilogy is not that the authors are interested in having the Confederacy win the war but rather with avoiding the horrors of Reconstruction. Towards that end the biggest change, of course, would be for Lincoln to avoid being assassinated and serve out a second term (which may or may not happen), but Gingrich and Forstchen have put another pivotal piece in to position because I think they are going to forgo Sherman's infamous March to the Sea (clearly the war will be over by the end of the Fall in 1983). If the Army of the Tennessee can avoid cutting a swath of destruction through the state of Georgia, then a major cause of Southern outrage would be eliminated. These are just speculations on my part, but they underscore the key idea of this trilogy, which is that we do not know how the end game will play out, which is just another reason why it is well worth reading.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant "Counter History",
As a history professor, who has taught Civil War history on several occasions---(I'm NO expert, by any means)---this series is amazing. I usually don't read jacket covers or blurbs---just jump right in. So when I started "Gettysburg," I thought, "Killer Angels," but with slightly different characters. Then, duh! By Day 2, it's clear somethin's happenin' here (to quote Buffalo Springfield).
After "Gettysburg," I couldn't wait for "Grant Comes East." The character development is astounding, and while historians may quibble with whether Dan Sickles or Herman Haupt are correctly depicted, it makes for a fascinating read.
As a military historian, one of the things that is most impressive about both of these books is the authors' ability to get into the detail of war, both in combat and in camp life. The mere understanding of the logistics supplied by Haupt is no small feat, and the combat scenes leave you tugging for one side or the other, depending on your political proclivities.
I have already pre-ordered "Never Call Retreat." Bravo, Newt and Bill.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sickles swings for the fence,
This review is from: Grant Comes East (Paperback)
GRANT COMES EAST is the second volume in a brilliant trilogy of alternative Civil War history. It follows GETTYSBURG, in which, after the first day of that battle in July 1863, Longstreet persuades Lee to eschew a frontal attack on the Union entrenchments on the heights above the town and make a wide sweep to the south into the Army of the Potomac's rear, a maneuver that results in the overwhelming defeat of Meade's command at the Battle of Union Mills. GETTYSBURG is one of the best books on the Civil War that I've ever read, be it fiction or otherwise.
GRANT COMES EAST begins a couple of weeks later. Grant, fresh off his capture of Vicksburg and promoted to Lieutenant General, arrives in Cairo, IL to take charge of all the Union armies, and shortly travels on to Harrisburg, PA, where he'll form the Army of the Susquehanna with three corps from his old Army of the Tennessee plus the 19th Corps from New Orleans. In the meantime, General Lee, soon to be reinforced by General Beauregard and twenty-thousand troops up from South Carolina, must make a choice. Does he assault heavily fortified Washington, D.C., or attempt the capture of relatively undefended Baltimore and take Maryland out of the Union camp?
The wild card is U.S. Major General Dan Sickles, promoted to command the remnants of the Army of the Potomac by Secretary of War Stanton before Grant had the requisite authority from Lincoln to veto the promotion. Sickles, a Democratic politician-general from New York, is feisty, brave, vain, ambitious and spoiling to take his smaller but reorganized and replenished force on a mission of vengeance against the Army of Northern Virginia regardless of Grant's strategic wishes. Besides, there's the 1864 Democratic presidential nomination to think of.
As with any work of "what if", the danger, as one drifts further and further from the historical record, is to ascribe to the main personae actions inconsistent with their known abilities and characters. Here, plot newcomers (Grant, U.S. Congressman Elihu Washburne, Lincoln, Sickles, Stanton, Confederate President Jefferson Davis) take center stage along with those (Lee, Longstreet, U.S. Major General Haupt) carried over from GETTYSBURG. Authors Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen continue their commendable practice of keeping the key players and events believable. I didn't doubt for a moment that the Battle of Gunpowder River could've happened as it unfolded. Maybe it did in a parallel universe.
I have the third book of the series, NEVER CALL RETREAT, on my shelf. I fully expect it to be as gripping and excellent as the previous two, and shall be sorely disappointed when I've finished the last page and have no more installments to savor. This is marvelous series, a must-read for all those even but mildly interested in the War Between the States.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Alternate History,
As a Civil War buff and history fan in general, I eagerly devoured Newt Gingrich's previous alternate history book, Gettysburg, and having thoroughly enjoyed it, looked forward to his sequel, Grant Comes East. After starting the book, I ran through it in less than two days, relishing every page. Grant Comes East is a masterful piece of the age-old what might have been genre. Gingrich marvelously writes his characters, Grant, Lincoln, and Lee most famously, but also those less known to history such as Union Generals Haupt and Sickles. Haupt is the Union general in charge of logistics and supply of the army (what I found to be a refreshing inclusion) and is highlighted throughout the story as a miracle worker, shifting men and supplies across the Union to confront the threat Lee's army now poses to Washington. While Sickles, the somewhat erratic Union general and Tammany crony (who in actuality lost his leg at Gettysburg), maneuvers himself into command of the remnants of the Army of the Potomac and eagerly looks forward to capturing glory prior to the 1864 election.
Gingrich does well to keep a great sense of realism throughout a book that hinges on a particularly hypothetical event. Realpolitik and maneuvering are still a fact of life in both the Union and Confederate governments- neither has any foolish, idealistic realizations in the wake of the North's previous defeat. Jefferson Davis and Judah Benjamin (the Confederate Secretary of State) are both brought into the fray and work calculatingly to increase the South's chances of foreign recognition in Europe.
Overall, Grant Comes East is a superbly done, well written "what if" that captures both the wonderful character portraits of a Jeff Shaara novel and the historical possibilities of a Harry Turtledove novel without the blemishes of either. I highly recommend this book for Civil War buffs as well as though with a passing interest in our nation's history.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Done Alternative History of the Civil War,
In this alternative history sequel to their to "Gettysburg" novel (2003), "Grant Comes East" follows up on Lee's victory over Meade at Gettysburg. The authors take a different tack from other "what if" musings of history (those of Harry Turtledove, Ward Moore, et al) by arguing that even a Union defeat at Gettysburg would not guarantee an immediate Confederate victory in the Civil War. Their thesis (so far) is that the North's superiority in industializtion and population would still checkmate the South.
The authors basically move up Grant's 1864 transfer from the Western theater of military operations to the East after the crisis created by the defeat of the Army of the Potomac. The book follows events during the summer of 1863 when Lee attempts to seize Washington, D.C. & Baltimore and end the war once & for all before Grant can strike back.
Overall, the descriptions of the behaviors/choices of the various generals and politcians ring true (although I had a difficult time with the transformation of James Longstreet into the second coming of Stonewall Jackson). Their depiction of Dan Sickles political manipulations & military impulsiveness is within his historical character and his fate on the battlefield will remain etched in your memory long after the novel ends.
For the Civil War novice, this book will be a fun page-turner. For the serious student of the Civil War, there will be much to debate of the author's assumptions and premises. Would Grant really strip the Western theater of most of their soldiers to create a new Army of the Susquehanna? Would Lincoln really appoint Dan Sickles as the new commander of the Army of the Potomac?
The novel is well-written and well-researched. This is the first alternative Civil War work that illustrates and focuses upon the the superiority of Union logistics over the Confederacy. Hopefully, the third volume of the series will be as good when it appears next year to follow the fictional events of the fall of 1863 when Grant's army of westerners takes on Lee's army of depleted veterans.
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Grant Comes East by William R. Forstchen (Audio CD - June 1, 2004)
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