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Friday, November 27, 2009

To Try Men's Souls by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

These two authors, one of them the infamous Newt Gingrich, have tackled the Civil War and World War II and now have written a novel of the American Revolution, or more specifically, of Washington crossing the Delaware in late 1776 which was a very pivotal moment for the Americans. It is especially worthwhile to read the introduction where they explain why they want to write about our Founding Fathers.

The story is carried forward by three characters, two of whom are real people: General George Washington and Thomas Paine whose words inspired the nation, and one fictional character: Jonathon Van Dorn, a private from New Jersey. The novel is set in the New Jersey countryside for the most part and includes the several weeks leading up to the famous crossing on Christmas night, as well as the battle the next morning.

I thought that they did a good job portraying what it must have been like to fight at that time and place. I have a much greater respect for all those who fought faithfully when so many things were against them. It really is a miracle that the rebels won the war given that they were so poorly fed and dressed, many walking barefoot or nearly so. It must have been a completely miserable experience. For a nonfiction account of the events of 1776, all leading up to the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware, I recommend 1776 by David McCullough. There is very little in this book that I would consider objectionable. Rated PG for some swearing and some violence.

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