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Starred Review. A spy and trader in contraband led an ill-fated commando mission during the first year of the Civil War with these words: "Now my lads, you have been chosen by your officers to perform a most important service, which if successful, will change the whole aspect of the war, and aid materially in bringing an early peace to our distracted country." The episode, which formed the basis for one of Buster Keaton's best-known films, took place in April 1862, when 20 Union soldiers crossed Confederate lines to steal a locomotive called the General and destroy a critical Confederate supply line. In this gripping, smooth-running account of the raid and its aftermath, Atlanta lawyer and Civil War historian Bonds zooms effortlessly from broad-stroke overviews of Civil War strategy to minute-by-minute scrutiny of unfolding events on the ground. He sets up the story with a quick, punchy outline of the first year of the war. What follows is a fast-paced, extremely well-told tale of espionage, capture, trial and escape. Half the team was executed; the half that escaped received the newly established Medal of Honor. With its authoritative tone and refreshing accessibility, this should find a place on the nightstand of the general reader as well as the bookshelf of the Civil War enthusiast. BOMC,History Book Club and Military Book Club selections, Borders' Original Voices selection. 20,000 first printing. (Oct. 15)
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Stealing the General, by Russell S. Bonds (Westholme; $29.95). On April 12, 1862, twenty Union soldiers in disguise boarded a train in Georgia to execute a scheme that was meant to bring a quick end to the Civil War. The plan, devised by a quinine-smuggling Union scout and an astronomer turned general, was to steal a locomotive and drive it to Chattanooga, capturing a key railroad connection whose loss would cut the Confederacy in half. The raid might have succeeded if not for the train's conductor, who pursued the hijackers on foot ("this seemed to be funny to some of the crowd," he said later, "but it wasn't so to me") and then by handcar and a series of three engines. The Union men were captured, and eight were hung as spies; some of the survivors were later the first-ever recipients of the Medal of Honor. The chase became a contemporary legend - it's now best known as the basis of a Buster Keaton film - and Bonds's account, the first major study in decades, is thoroughly worthy of an expedition that, a Union officer wrote, "had the wildness of a romance."
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Book as described and service was good also. A distant cousin of mine took part in this raid.Published 4 months ago by Judy Estep
Beautifully written, meticulously documented account of a small insurrection in the Civil War. Fascinating detail on the participants and historic sites. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Wes
Very good information and entertaining. Brought the history to life. Everyone interested in the War Between the States should read this exciting book.Published 5 months ago by Remodeler
I saw the Disney movie when I was young and then read the book .This book filled in all that was missing from both the movie and the other book . Read morePublished 6 months ago by G. McManus
More history of the Civil War and if you read other war stories this ties in with those.Published 6 months ago by Budd Bennion
I finally finished this book. Don't know why it took me so long. I just never got interested enough to pick it up for weeks at a time. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Texas Bob
Terrific well written and fascinating recount of an amazing episode and little known aspect of the Civil War. Loads of fun. Reads like a novel. Read morePublished 13 months ago by J. M Ullman
Book makes the civil war come to light as you read it. Excellant read and great gift for birthdaysPublished 13 months ago by Kindle Customer