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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gingrich & Forstchen add so much color, emotion, and horror...
When it comes to adding "color" to a historical event, I don't do a great job in my mind. I can read a paragraph spanning weeks or months of history, and that's as far as my mind takes it. I miss the pain, suffering, glory, and everything else that actually occurred. It's for this reason that a good historical fiction novel can open my eyes and help me understand some...
Published on November 8, 2011 by Thomas Duff

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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incompetence
I'm rating this novel as a '3' based on two factors i.e. historical detail and literary quality. The historical detail and research seems reasonably good but the literary quality leaves a lot to be desired. In my critical opinion, the story of the Battle of the Crater should be an exciting page turner from the first to the last. This book is the exact opposite of that...
Published on May 27, 2012 by Ron Braithwaite


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5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting Read, February 10, 2012
This is a sobering account of a battle of the Civil War that I didn't know about before reading this book. This conflict is far behind us, yet it is NEVER far behind us, nor should it be. This book is a vivid reminder of just why we should never forget the lives lost and damaged in any war. The imagery of battle is so realistic that the reader feels they just crawled out of the trenches and are lucky to be alive. Maybe take a shower and get the dirt off. This is a riveting read; a vicarious armchair experience at its best!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light on old subject, December 19, 2011
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Like most students of the civil war I had heard of the battle of the crater. I knew for instance that black regiments had been used in the assult and they had promply charged into the crater to be torn apart. I knew that it was just another fiaso in a long string of failures associated with the Petersburg campaign and that was all I needed to know about it. Why did I know this? Because this is what history taught me. I never considered that history could be so wrong, after all it has been over 140 years since the events, surely the truth would have come out decades ago. I should have known better.

Not only is this preception of history wrong, the history itself is wrong. The level of staff work, planning and training that went into this battle was consistant with modern arms, not 19th century military thinking. Not only were the troops trained (well the black division in any case) to a fevor pitch but thought had been given to clearing obsticles and equiptment provided to accomplish that task. A well thought out battle plan had been formulated, rehersed and proved for by staff work on par with a modern combined arms task force. The only fault in the pre panning was not involving the white divisions, at least their commanders and staffs as to the plan of attack. It is understandable as to why they were not, security concerns.

As a work of history this book is to be rank as one of the best. To any student of the civil war it is a must read. Often times when reading history in a novel format one is left wondering if what they are reading is the authors fantasy (fiction) or historical truth. In this novel one is not left to quess. The fictional parts come thought clearly while the historical parts are clear. And make no mistake you wont like the ending, but it is why we were left with such distortion of the historical record. I can only hope that text books will be rewritten and the record set straight, but like with most historical fiction I fear that even the truth will not shine though.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars felt like I was there, November 11, 2011
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"the battle of the crater" is very hard to put down.it is a verylittle known battle from american history which I did not know about which after reading this book I will feel more intrested to learn more about this battle. the federals have a very daring but most risky plan to tunnel under the confederate lines and try and score a great victory. newt gingrich along with being a former speaker of the house is also history teacher and has teamed up again with wm forstchen who also is a historical writer and they have really uncovered some amazing research for another upcoming bestseller. look on amazon.com for other newt gingrich books great gifts for the holidays /birthdays and bill o reillys book killing linclon and james swansons books on the linclon asasination
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Civil War buffs and others who want to ..., October 13, 2014
Great for Civil War buffs and others who want to know what took place that they don't teach in schools

One of the worst loss of lives in the Civil War - due to poor leadership
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love Gingrichs' books & have all the American history series, August 26, 2014
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Love Gingrichs' books & have all the American history series. Learn more about what you won't learn anyplace else right here! mary ellen
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Tale of How Petty Politics Can Derail the Best-Laid Plans, November 11, 2011
"Battle of the Crater" is Newt Gingrich's and William R. Forstchen's fascinating historical novel about this infamous battle, in which the Union Ninth Corps attempted to end the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. To breach the seemingly impenetrable Confederate fortifications, Union sappers tunnelled under the Confederate front lines and rigged explosive charges. Tragically, petty political jealousies and bickering conspire to ruin an otherwise clever plan that could have ended the Civil War almost a full year sooner.

The story flows well, and is a very easy and entertaining read. The authors appear to have thoroughly researched the historical Battle of the Crater and skillfully describe the technical aspects of tunnel-digging in a way that the general public can understand. The book also expertly weaves real historic events amidst the struggles of its main protagonists. It further makes a sincere effort to understand the poor decision-making of some of the generals involved, namely Generals Meade and Burnside. The authors competently weave a complex tale that both covers the war's horrors and deprivations for the soldiers, and the jockeying of generals and politicians for position and influence. It artfully purveys the petty bickering, biases, and political maneuvering endemic in many organizations, and how those interpersonal conflicts can stifle creativity and effectiveness. The book flawlessly advances the plot through the eyes of the various protagonists, and deftly builds the tension. The reader will be anxiously turning the page just to find out what will happen next.

I highly recommend this book for history enthusiasts, war buffs, and people who are interested in organizational theory.

Note: The publisher provider the reviewer with an advance copy of the book. The reviewer was under no obligation to provide a favorable review, and would have published the exact same review had he acquired the book in some other manner.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battle of the Crater, March 13, 2012
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I've read all of the Civil War books written jointly by Gingrich and Forstchen. This book proved to be as enjoyable with realistic depictions of the Civil War battlefield(s). As a former soldier, the authors have a keen ability to hearken memories of life in the field - a rare talent.

My only criticism of the book is that it glosses over the inadequacies inherent in raw and untested troops and implies prejudice drove the unit's failures. While it certainly played a major role in the unit's treatment by veteran units, such treatment would occur to some degree for ANY green and untested unit. "PC" has no place in such an otherwise fine book.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read, November 16, 2011
Battle of the Crater is a fascinating and compelling novel well worth the read. I am not a particular fan of historical fiction, but this book held my attention and was very enjoyable.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BotC, December 6, 2011
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Terrific and authentic, great interplay between characters and a very fast read. A page turner. I fact-checked many of the event portrayed, and the although this is a novel, it's also a great history lesson. Well done!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good fictionalized history for a politician, January 23, 2012
The book depicts progress of the Virginia Theater of the civil war in 1864 as seen through the eyes of an illustrator employed by Harper's Weekly, a sort of civil war Bill Mauldin. The second major character is a real person, Garland White, a Sergeant Major of the US Colored Troops (USCT). Garland's background and career subsequent to the CW is one of the more interesting aspects of the novel. The book shows attitudes toward the black soldiers as well as their performance.

The fact that frontal attacks never worked in the CW seems obvious now, but the idea of the protagonist grasping military strategy at a glance and relaying the information to the friend from his Illinois youth, Abraham Lincoln, is not very credible. However, the lapse of credibility doesn't detract much from the novel. Tension is well maintained as the book follows military planning towards the final battle, billed as a plan to finish the war. The battle scenes are well depicted. There are fictionalized accounts of the personal relationships of Burnside, Meade and Porter as well as planning and training sessions involving many lesser officers and troops. The authors show considerable expertize on history, warfare, weaponry and mining operations. However, In spite of use of a theodolite for surveying, curvature of the tunnel on the map is not explained.

The authors have Lee commanding the treatment of colored opposition in accordance with the rules of war, doubtful in the light of what actually happened. There's a confusing date on the opening map and if Hancock's II corps was in place according to the map, why did they not participate in the action at the Crater?

A disclaimer stating the boundary between fact and fiction is missing, leaving the reader to gauge the distinction. The book would be enhanced by appending a Harper's Weekly with war illustrations from the period.
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The Battle of the Crater: A Novel
The Battle of the Crater: A Novel by Newt Gingrich (Hardcover - November 8, 2011)
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