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To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom (George Washington 1) Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 20, 2009

221 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Revolutionary War Series

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 20, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After hacking their way through the Civil War and WWII, former House Speaker Gingrich and historian Forstchen take on the Revolutionary War with decidedly mixed results. Sharing narration duties are Thomas Paine, George Washington and Jonathan van Dorn, a young private in Washington's army. From Washington's crossing of the Delaware River to a daring night raid on the better-armed Hessians, the authors do a decent job of depicting the dire plight of the Continental Army, though the big chunks of backstory wedged into the narrative add little texture while slowing the pace dramatically. Historical cameos abound, and these, combined with the attention devoted to the gritty details of army life, help to offset Washington's acts of patriotic melodrama in what is surely to become another popular book for Gingrich and Forstchen. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Surely to become another popular book for Gingrich and Forstchen."
--Publishers Weekly
"This is the essence of the iconic battlefield tale superbly and vividly told in Gingrich and Forstchen's latest historical novel.... This is one of the best historical novels you will ever read!"

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Product Details

  • Series: George Washington 1
  • Hardcover: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312591063
  • ASIN: B003STCQ8O
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 226 people found the following review helpful By a VINE VOICE on September 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's ironic that someone as politically polarizing as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich could co-author such a straightforward, inspirational novel as "To Try Men's Souls." As someone who has never aligned with Gingrich's politics, I had to force myself not to turn away from this novel. Fortunately, my interest in colonial history prompted me to give it a chance, and I'm glad I did. This dyed-in-the-wool Democrat loved this novel by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen.

Focused specifically, and with extraordinary detail, on the late December 1776 crossing of the Delaware and the battle of Trenton, New Jersey, the novel unequally divides the action and perspective between General Washington, Tom Paine, and a sickly private from New Jersey. The story is Wasington's, as it really should be, and he dominates the narrative. The private appears occasionally to provide the every-man, dedicated patriot perspective and also to offer insight into the brother-against-brother conflict that arose during the Revolutionary War. Paine's words, specifically "The American Crisis I," form the emotional core and bridge all three narratives together. Paine himself appears in a handful of brief episodic flashbacks; his writing is the real star, not the man.

I was moved by the story, enchanted by the attention to detail, and pleased by all of the little flourishes right down to the novel's typeface reflecting the colonial time period. This is truly a book for all Americans regardless of your political affiliations. I encourage everyone to look beyond the politics of the authors, if that is even an issue for you, and enjoy this well-written tribute to this country's patriot heroes. Highly recommended.
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86 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Karl Bielefeldt VINE VOICE on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To Try Men's Souls follows one day in the life of George Washington's army, in an educational yet entertaining blend of story and history. At times it felt no different than reading a history book, which was not unwelcome for someone like me who would have been just as happy had it been completely nonfiction, but the fiction helped me care about this familiar story in a way I never had before, both from General Washington's point of view, and that of one of his lowliest soldiers.

The book also follows Thomas Paine as he writes The American Crisis. Indeed, the whole book seems designed to allow the reader to understand The American Crisis with all the context and emotional investment of one living during those times. As I read the copy included at the end, I could easily feel how it would have inspired those fighting for our independence.

We live in a time when patriotism is unpopular. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to reconnect with the patriotism of our founders.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Anna VINE VOICE on September 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'To Try Men's Souls' is a poignant and timely reminder of the challenges faced by those brave persons of the Revolutionary War 233 years ago. Imagine no adequate roads, no motorized vehicles or watercraft, rifles that had to be reloaded after each shot, and travel on a stormy night. Actually, stormy doesn't accurately describe the weather conditions that December 25th - 26th...sleet, freezing rain, bone chilling wind, snow...a night that we would have a hard time venturing out in, even with all our modern contrivances. Now add who knew naught but defeat, men with mud-caked clothing little better than rags, often barefoot, suffering from a wide range of diseases caused by hunger, exposure, and substandard food and water. Men, who willingly chose to serve their young country a month longer than they were required. Add one ice choked river (crossed twice in 24 hours), a nighttime march to a daytime battle, two flooded ravines, heavy artillery, and nine miles of icy hills and fields (one way)...and waiting for you at the end, the finest fighting force of their time - the Hessians. The Battle of Trenton was so much more than just one battle in a war long ago; it was the proving point for our young nation - it was the point where our patriotic forefathers threw everything they had left at an enemy that represented the oppressive evil of bondage - be it outright slavery or fealty to a king.

What drove these brave men on this cold, miserable night in December 1776? One word - FREEDOM. The barely glowing ember of freedom was on the verge of going out as Congress had all but abandoned Philadelphia. But on that night, and with their backs against the wall, with a watchword of "Victory or Death", freedom burned fiercely in the hearts of those brave men marching on Trenton.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A reader VINE VOICE on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The idea of Newt Gingrich as a novelist seemed absurd; just another overreaching politician with an overdeveloped sense of his ability, I scoffed. Then I read Pearl Harbor, Days of Infamy and 1945. I was astonished by Pearl Harbor and thoroughly delighted with the other two, and I look forward to reading his novels set in the Civil War. I do not mean to labor the point, but these are good books: well-written, and terrifically entertaining.

Now Gingrich (and William R. Fortschen, who also co-wrote Pearl Harbor, Days of Infamy and 1945) has approached the Revolutionary War, its early days shortly after George Washington's retreat from New York City: the Battle of Trenton, Christmas, 1776, a fight against Hessians--German soldiers that had defeated Washington's Army at Brooklyn a few months earlier, bayoneting wounded and surrendering Marylanders even as they cried for mercy, having sacrificed themselves as a rearguard so that the Army could escape.

True to the sturcture of his other novels, To Try Men's Souls tells the story from the highest levels--General Washington--to most most humble as Thomas Paine, known throughout the Army and the country for his writing, finds insipiration from two fellow foot soldiers, brothers, one who has had enough and goes home and the younger who stays in the face of a brutal witner. Thus inspired, Paine inspired the country and, more importantly, Washington's utterly defeated and humiliated army.
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