Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Idea? How About Free Books?

This Thanksgiving two of the things I am thankful for is the generosity of various publishers who have sent along books for review and for you the readers of my blog!. Every now and then a publisher will send along an extra copy of a book for use as a promotional item. I have two such books that I am offering to readers free of charge. Please see below for further details. If you are interested in receiving either book please leave a comment on this posting and I will follow up with you for your address so I can get you your book. All that I ask in return for the generosity of these publishers is that you be willing to write a guest review for this blog. Fair enough?

So why fight the crowds this weekend. Drop me a line on this posting and get yourself a free book!

The Civil War: A Visual History. Published by Parragon. Please see my review here for further information.

Cold Glory. Published by Forge. Please see my post here for further information on this new Civil War related fiction release.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Upcoming Reviews

A couple of books have been received from publishers recently. Thanks go out to these publishers for their generosity!

The good folks at Little Brown have been kind enough to send along a copy of the beautiful new book The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War. At over 250 pages and packed with illustrations and photos this chronological look at the war is sure to find it's way on to many holiday wish lists and will no doubt fill many stockings in December. Written by Margaret Wagner, who has written other history books for the LOC, the book draws on the Library archive and features many never before published illustrations. A large coffee table sized hardcover book this one looks to have the markings of a winner.

Received recently from Forge is Cold Glory written by B. Kent Anderson. Please read the information below from the publisher website for further insight into this book. Also, be on the lookout for a contest on this site for a free copy of this new hardcover book generously provided by the publisher.
Cold Glory is the exciting start to a brand-new thriller series by B. Kent Anderson.

When the first page of a shocking Civil War-era document is unearthed in Oklahoma, history professor Nick Journey is called in to evaluate the find--and is promptly attacked by two men armed with Special Forces weapons.

Federal agent Meg Tolman's investigation into Journey's attack uncovers more troubling questions than answers. She soon finds herself joining Journey's cross-country quest to recover and protect the missing pages.

A shadowy group, the Glory Warriors, have been desperately searching for this explosive document to legitimize what is nothing less than a military coup. After their first attempt to steal it from Journey fails, they follow him, knowing that he holds the key to uncovering the long-lost papers.

They also set their plan into motion and begin assassinating key political figures. As the country plunges into chaos, Journey and Tolman search frantically for the remaining pages. And the Glory Warrior operatives are hot on their trail….

Book Review-Grant's Final Victory

Flood, Charles Bracelen. Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA. 320 pages, b/w photos, notes, bibliography. ISBN 9780306820281, $27.50.*

There are certain people in the world who seem to achieve success no matter what obstacle is thrown in their way. Ulysses S. Grant is an example of this type person. Charles Bracelen Flood has chosen to focus on the final turbulent year of Grant's life. In doing so he paints a picture of Grant who despite many set backs in his last year of life rises above the occasion to yet again leave his mark on the world.

In the early 1880's Grant seemingly had the world in his hands. He was the victor of the Civil War, having defeated the great Robert E. Lee. He was the former president of the United States. He and his wife Julia moved to a nearly $100,000 townhouse in New York City after having returned from a yearlong tour of the world where he was met with adulation. He was a partner in the seemingly successful financial firm of Grant & Ward.

This partnership would be the financial undoing of Grant and many others as the 40% dividends that were being paid were lies. Grant had been caught in what now is called a Ponzi scheme. Author Flood does an admirable job of explaining what happened and the resulting fall out. Faced with financial ruin many offers came to Grant in his time of need. Attempts were made in Congress to restore  Grant's rank of General (forfeited when he became President) that would allow him to receive pension benefits. Individuals from across the country sent donations to the Grant family, many of these coming from soldiers he had led in battle just a few years prior. Perhaps most important was Century Magazine and their offer to publish first hand war articles from Grant.

Unknown to Grant however was that his biggest challenge was yet to come. Cancer. Grant had been a cigar smoker for years and after finally going to the doctor for a pain in his throat was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the tongue. This diagnosis coupled with the Grant family financial situation set in motion the last great challenge of Grant's life.

Grant writing his memoirs.
Photo: Library of Congress
Here, author Charles Flood does an excellent job of describing the struggles of Grant's last year. Eventually Grant decides he must write his memoirs in order to take care of his debts and to provide income for Julia. He finally decides on a company owned by Mark Twain to publish his work. The rest of the book traces the painful journey of Grant's last months. With the help of others he wrote on average 750 words a day despite his worsening condition that forced a move to the private cottage of Joseph Drexel at Saratoga Springs, NY. In the face of his declining health he completed his work just three days before passing away on July 23, 1885.

In my view Flood leaves it to the reader to decide what is Grant's REAL final victory. Was it finishing his memoirs before cancer was able to take his life? Perhaps it was being able to repay his obligations and also leave income for his wife and family? His memoirs eventually brought the Grant family over $600,000. Could it have been the respect and admiration shown to the General from soldiers and civilians from both sides of the "late unpleasantness"? Possibly it is just the story of triumph over adversity? I highly suggest reading this book and make your own determination.

This is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Those interested in the Civil War and it's participants will no doubt find this of interest. Those with an interest in Presidential history should take a look as well. For readers who like an uplifting story with a positive message this is a book for you. For book clubs there is much to discuss and Grant's Final Victory would make an ideal read.

*Information here is taken from other sources. A complimentary advance reading copy was provided by Da Capo Press. My copy did not include completed page information.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lincoln's Tomb Vandalised

I was sorry to see this online today. Goes to show what budget cuts can get you. I have added the photo of the tomb for reference.

Learn more about Abraham Lincoln's tomb by clicking on this link.

Copper sword stolen from statue at Lincoln's Tomb

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Copper thieves have struck at Abraham Lincoln's burial site in Springfield, Ill.

An employee recently noticed that a copper statue atop the tomb was missing a 3-foot-long sword. The statue is of a Civil War artillery officer.

The sword was allegedly taken sometime between September and early November. It was broken at the handle.

Dave Blanchette is spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. He tells the (Springfield) State Journal-Register ( ) that the theft is believed to be the first to state property stolen at the Lincoln Tomb Historic Site since the same sword was stolen more than a century ago.

State officials plan to repair the statue.

A guard used to be stationed at the tomb overnight, but Blanchette says the position was cut amid budget problems.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recent Vacation

My wonderful wife and I have returned from a nice vacation that saw us brave an unexpected and early snow storm, tour several Civil War battlefields, meet author and blogger, facebook friend, park ranger, and all around nice guy John Hoptak, visit the homes of several United States' Presidents, and see several places we had not seen before in Washington D.C.

This vacation will be providing the groundwork for many blog postings that will be coming up over the next few weeks and probably months. Of course first this means sorting through somewhere around 800 pictures and making some order out of them. Then comes sorting through the literature that we picked up so that I have a starting point for writing followed up of course by further research on the topic. Then finally actually sitting down and putting fingers to keyboard.

Seeing that these photos won't sort themselves I am keeping this brief. I have a couple of book announcements to post soon, a few book reviews that just need to be written, and as mentioned a load of historical sites to report on. Obviously the blog will be continuing! Thanks for reading.