4 out of 4 stars
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The civil war between the Union and the Confederacy has been going on for long and is growing fiercer. General Reynolds arrives opportunely at the historic battlefield in Gettysburg and is shot dead almost instantly. General George Meade orders Winfield Hancock to transfer command of his II Corps to Brigadier General John Gibbon. Moreover, General Meade carefully drafts an official order to promptly replace Reynolds with Winfield. General Meade had not followed military protocol since Winfield was junior to Oliver Howard. His heroic bravery, wisdom, and decisiveness coupled with the unshakable determination to fight Robert Lee’s Confederates were clearly evident from the moment he arrived at Gettysburg. He had grown tired of the army’s withdrawal that seemed familiar and well-rehearsed and was happy he was in a position to change the army’s course.
“I am a Soldier, First and Always” The Distinguished Career of Winfield Scott Hancock, Volume II: Turning Point was written by James Harold Kelly. It is an action-packed historical fiction book chronicling the life, military and short political career of Lieutenant General Winfield Scott Hancock. The author is a retired U.S. Army officer and Department of Defense executive. He is an avid student of military history, and this is his first historical fiction book in two volumes. The book was published in 2019 and is 395 pages long. It is divided into four parts and contains a total of thirty-four chapters.
The story was both fascinating and gripping from the first page. The author managed to adequately reveal the devastating consequences of war while narrating the military expertise of General Winfield. Old-time friends and college mates, who had been turned into adversaries by the war, fought on opposite sides as they reminisced about the pleasant memories they had shared. The soldiers hoped the war would end, and that they would be capable of chatting as friends again. The nostalgia was heavy, and the reader is undoubtedly left with a deep longing to experience the peaceful days. However, they were in the war, and many were shot dead, others were torn apart, and others mortally wounded. Both sides suffered massive casualties.
What I liked most is that the author convincingly portrayed both the strengths and weaknesses of Winfield. He was a devoted husband and a loving father. He properly maintained constant communication with his family even on the battlefield. He was accustomed to typically seeing many soldiers die, but the immense sadness and despair he felt when he lost close members of his family and friends showed he was still humane. Winfield’s pride and arrogance was also displayed properly. I also relished the fact that the book demonstrated how soldiers are not always well appreciated. This was an accurate reflection of modern times as well. The historical information in the book was also well researched. I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. There is nothing that I did not like about it.
The language employed in the book was straightforward, and editing was professionally done. This was a superb book to read. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I heartily recommend it to all ardent fans of historical fiction books. It will appeal most to readers who enjoy reading about prominent historical figures and military exploits. The book contains gory scenes and so may be unsuitable for readers who are averse to such.
“I am a Soldier, First and Always” The Distinguished Career of Winfield Scott Hancock
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