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Paperback Never Call Retreat : Lee and Grant - The Final Victory Book

ISBN: 0312342993

ISBN13: 9780312342999

Never Call Retreat : Lee and Grant - The Final Victory

(Book #3 in the Gettysburg Series)

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Book Overview

New York Times bestselling authors Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen conclude their inventive trilogy with this remarkable answer to the great "what-if" of the American Civil War: Could the South have won? After his great victories at Gettysburg and Union Mills, General Robert E. Lee's attempt to bring the war to a final conclusion by attacking Washington, D.C., fails. However, in securing Washington, the remnants of the valiant Union Army of...

Customer Reviews

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A Fitting End To A Great Story

Through three novels, Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen have told the story of a Civil War that might have been. It started with Gettysburg, where Robert E. Lee withdraws from the field of battle in Pennsylvania and forces the Army of the Potomac to fight a battle on his terms, with devastating results. Then, in Grant Comes East., Lee is forced to deal with the unknown as a new General, Ulysses S. Grant, begins to build a new Army near Harrisburg, though Lee still manages to capture Baltimore and inflict what would seem to have been a death blow on the Army of the Potomac. In Never Call Retreat. Gingrich & Forstchen bring their Civil War trilogy to a close with a tale of the clash of two titans -- Lee and Grant -- in a battle that will decide the fate of the Union, and end the war, in September 1863 rather than April 1865. Everything that made the first two volumes of this trilogy so good are here in the final volume as well. The historical research is impeccable, and the writing once again makes you feel like you're reading accounts of an actual battle, rather than a story about one that never took place. The ending, which I won't reveal, may strike some as implausible, but I don't think it is. Even in 1863, the enmities that the Civil War created had not grown deep. All of the main players -- Lincoln, Grant, and Lee -- said more than once in their own words how much they hated war in particular, and the death and destruction of that war specifically. Given the chance to end it earlier, on terms that might not have caused such divisiveness in the post-war era, I think they all would have jumped at it. In the end, Gingrich & Forstchen have created a work of historical fiction that deserves to be read, and re-read, for a long time to come.

Those believing Lee's victory at Gettysburg seals the war are in for a bloody surprise

William R. Forstchen and Newt Gingrich continue and end the marvelous Civil War alternate-history trilogy in the same style and sensitivity shown in the previous two volumes. As with the previous two, battle scenes can sometimes be compared to a Steven Pressfield novel, and the emotion and drama is more potent and straining than the previous two novels. After all but destroying the remnants of the Army of the Potomac along Gunpowder River, Lee is alerted to the Army of Susquehanna under Grant moving from Pennsylvania and attempting to enter Virginia. Rapid maneuvering brings the Army of Northern Virginia to cut them off near Frederick, Maryland, more specifically on the banks of Monocacy Creek. What transpires is a week-long battle that would make the two month earlier battle of Gettysburg-Union Mills look like a bloody skirmish. Several well-known American heroes end up dying in the battle who would not have in real history, and others surviving, but each one is done in a surprising, never needless manner. George Armstrong Custer sacrifices his life to seeing the bridges over Monocacy Creek destroyed, severing the Confederate's chance to storm into Frederick unopposed. While the battle is unfolding, many obstacles stand in the path of a clear victory for Lee, including an unknown saboteur sabotaging locomotives outside of Baltimore, needed to rush the Army of Northern Virginia to Frederick, as well as the removal of the Washington Garrison, now commanded by Winfield Scott Hancock, to march along the Potomac and secure the river to prevent Lee from escaping into Virginia, and the remaining 10,000 of the Army of the Potomac snatching back Baltimore while Lee is fully engaged at Monocacy Creek. Since it's no secret that the book ends with Lee's defeat, I should say that that defeat does not come anywhere near lightly. The final scene on the battlefield is a heartwrenching one in which the surrounded Army of Northern Virginia, in one last desperate attempt to break free, aims to attack Grant head-on and escape through the Cacoctin Mountains. Just as they are about to charge, Grant's infantry move aside, to reveal fifty artillery cannons pointed directly at Lee's army. He has no choice but to surrender. From start to finish, heroes are recognized on both sides of the conflict, and in battle lulls, there are times when Confederates and Federals behave more like long lost friends than enemies, just as in history. Heroes are made out of Confederates and Federals alike, including US politicians like Elihu Washburne, CS politicians like Judah Benjiman, and others. Even if it weren't alternate history, this book and the other two would have been classics in Civil War literature. I am certain of that.

Great series

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and strongly recommend it for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I also recommend the audio version of this book, which is narrated exceptionally well. I was sad for the series to end and to leave the characters behind. Well done.

The End Of The Civil War In This Alternative History Series

"Never Call Retreat" is the concluding volume of this alternative history of the Civil War. Newt Gingrich and his co-authors maintain that a Confederate victory at Gettysburg (plus subsequent wins at the fictional Battles of Union Mills and Gunpower River) did not automatically guarantee an end to the Civil War on Southern terms. This is a different approach than the one taken by Ward Moore in "Bring The Jubilee" or Harry Turtledove in his continuing series that began with "How Few Remain." "Never Call Retreat" is the most compelling and intense of the trilogy. The climatic Battle of Monocacy Creek vaguely resembles the actual Battle of Gettysburg with its accidental beginings and its winner-take-all monumental charge at its end. The reader with a background in the Civil War will identified the unlabeled photographs of various historical personages (although the photos of the carnage of war require no labels). The various hand-drawn maps would have been better served by a more professional rendition. My one quibble with the novel is with the fictional General Grant sacking inept commanders in 1863 while the historical Grant was far more tolerant when he came East in 1864 (see Cold Harbor, the Wilderness, et al). Otherwise this book rings true for what could have been. This is an outstanding series that should be read in the order that they were written, for the reader to benefit from the culminative power of the trilogy.

Gingrich and Forstchen finish their reconstructed Civil War

I was halfway through "Gettysburg," the first novel in this series by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen before I realized that I was reading an alternative history akin to "Guns of the South" than a historical novel in the mode of "The Killer Angels" (this is what happens when you make a point of ignoring reviews and discarding book jackets before reading books you really want to read). However, once I caught on to the game I was along for the ride, not only because I appreciate the idea of fighting new battles on different battlefield, but also because I correctly anticipated the end game that the authors were maneuvering towards in this engrossing trilogy. The series is now up to August 22, 1863. The Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee has virtually annihilated the Army of the Potomac through a series of battles at Gettysburg, Union Mills, and Gunpowder River. The Confederates unsuccessfully attacked Washington, D.C., but have succeeded in capturing Baltimore, Maryland. Ulysses S. Grant, placed in command of all Union forces by President Abraham Lincoln, is moving with the Army of the Susquehanna, comprised of corps of troops from the Western front that are used to winning against the Rebels, is moving for the final engagement with Lee on the banks of the Monocacy River. I have a Civil War computer game where I could create battlefields and have played out engagements between the armies that met at Gettysburg on the geographies of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Duluth, Minnesota. So I can appreciate how Gingrich and Forstchen have traveled around Maryland and the surrounding environs to find their own new battlefields for these novels. The rough drawn maps included in the book are slightly problematic because if there is one thing we learned from studying the Battles of Gettysburg in any detail it is the importance of topography. Knowing the layout of the land at Antietam, Fredericksburg or any other battlefield of the Civil War is an important part of understanding how such battles were won or, more usually, lost. The key factor to an alternative history such as this one remains have the characters ring true. Lee continues to take advantage of the tendencies of his opponents and Grant refuses to back off not matter what the body count. Dan Sickels is still an arrogant amateur and George Armstrong Custer is always looking for glory. George Pickett remains an example of style over substance, while Jeb Stuart proves you can have both. Pete Longstreet will always want to be safe rather than sorry and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain will always be concerned with personal honor. All of this is important to making such a story work. The locations change but the people remain true, which is ultimately why such stories work (or do not, although having Lincoln and/or Lee as characters is always going to be a plus in any fictional work). Still, no matter how far off the beaten path an alternative history such as
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