Promise of Glory

C. X. Moreau, Author Forge $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-87272-4
This first novel offers a clear if sometimes too flowery account of the bloodiest single day of the Civil War--the Battle of Antietam. Moreau's delineation of the sequence of events that thwarted Robert E. Lee's proposed 1862 invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania and gave the Union its first significant--albeit only nominal--victory is precise and more than competently rendered. Military history, troop movements and the geography of the Sharpsburg area are presented with workmanlike accuracy. Moreau focuses his narrative on the usual collection of military principals--Lee, Jackson and Longstreet for the South; McClellan, Hooker and Burnsides for the North--augmenting their shifting points of view with the perspectives of some less prominent personalities. In general, Moreau holds steady to the standard course of established biographies and histories and offers few divergences from conventional thinking, though he sometimes displays a Southern bias. Lee is once more the reluctant warrior, torn between duty and family; McClellan is again the marginal incompetent, an overly cautious martinet who relies too closely on the sycophantic advice of the cowardly Fitz John Porter. In the end the overwhelming numbers of the federal army force Lee to withdraw to Maryland, thereby giving Lincoln a chance to declare a victory. Moreau's research is impeccable and smoothly incorporated, and his descriptions of battle scenes are vivid if overwritten in places. Yet the narrative comes off more as docudrama than pure fiction, and in spite of a clarity of details and chronology, adds little to extant accounts of this infamous historical event. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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