The Story

Several West Point graduates, including Grant and Sherman, navigate a life of duty and honor from the US expansion into California to the Mexican War and finally on the battlefields of the Civil War, where colleagues and sometimes, friends and family, find themselves on opposing sides.

What I like about this book

I am not a history scholar, so I can’t vouch for the complete historical accuracy of the book (although it rings true for me). However, as a reader of history, I enjoyed many of the military leaders of the day coming to life. The author vividly describes complex battlefields without leaving the reader lost in the woods. And I really appreciated the very human recognition by most of the characters that war is a bloody, wasteful enterprise. A great summertime read.

Things that gave me pause

Many of the characters in the novel have a way of accidentally coming across each other in the wilderness, on chaotic battlefields and in towns. As one who has had trouble finding my spouse in a shopping mall, I had to suspend my disbelief. However, the many encounters enabled the characters to engage each other on a broad and colorful canvas of history. Fair tradeoff.

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