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Stonewall Goes West: A Novel of The Civil War and What Might Have Been Paperback – March 21, 2013
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"Thomas' story is highly readable and highly entertaining. [Jeff] Shaara could use a lesson on pacing from Thomas."
Prof. Chris Mackowski, author of Chancellorsville: Crossroads of Fire and the Dark
"It's no easy task to accurately depict individual personalities, let alone write believable fictional conversations and interactions between them; nonetheless, the author excels at both."
Dr. Mathew Lively, author of Calamity at Chancellorsville
About the Author
R.E. Thomas is the author of the well-received Stonewall Goes West trilogy. He has also published a book about Port wine, owns and edits The Whiskey Reviewer web magazine, and works as a freelance boxing and travel writer.
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Top customer reviews
I think the author did a fine job of portraying the individual personalities involved on both the Confederate and the Union sides. He has obviously done his research and never has a person acting in a way that would have been out of character - a key to good "alternate history". He understands the technologies available to both sides as well as the logistics and the relative advantages/disadvantages of each side.
The author "sets the stage" for Jackson's attack into Tennessee very well, showing plausible actions on both sides of the war. He understands the personalities well and allows that to affect the course of the battle just as it would have been in actuality, whether it is a Confederate division commander that deliberately tarries so as to not attack where he didn't want to or a Union cavalry commander that blunders into an ambush.
In the battle we see begin in this book, we can see Stonewall Jackson use tactics and surprise just as he did in the Shenandoah in 1862. It's completely in character for him to organize and carry out a campaign as author Thomas has created in this book. We see Union reactions to be believable, but perhaps a little more efficient than in real life? Since the battles are fought in Tennessee, I would have thought the Confederates would have had better knowledge of the terrain, roads, shortcuts, etc. In any case, the author writes quite well and makes a good tale. I don't do "spoilers", so I won't give you my opinion on the course of the battles themselves.
Why only three stars? It's because the book mainly sets the stage, detailing Stonewall's relationship with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, his chief of staff's wedding as well as other trivial episodes. The book isn't very long at 238 pages and the battle doesn't even begin until page 135. As a matter of fact, the book ends in mid-campaign! You know there's more to come and it's as if the author planned this so the reader will have to buy another book just to find out how the campaign ends! As a consumer, regardless of how well I thought the author created this alternative world, I felt I wasn't getting my money's worth. Bad author! Bad author!
Although the author has written alternative history that is well put together and well researched, the poor tactic he uses to sell another book brings the rating down a couple stars in my book. Three stars.
Dialogue and atmosphere in general immerse the reader in the period and place, but this is not obviously slanted to glorify the South. There are talented generals on both sides of the conflict, just as there are poltroons, and the course of the campaign does not see one side or the other entirely escape from blunders or just plain Murphy.
The one problem worth noting is that all books about military campaigns should have maps; this one doesn't and it is all the more missed given that the campaign is in less familiar territory and covers battles that were never fought.