cover image GRANT COMES EAST


William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich, . . St. Martin's/Dunne, $24.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-312-30937-4

Former congressman Gingrich and historical fiction writer Forstchen once again collaborate to produce an exciting alternative history of the Civil War (after 2003's bestselling Gettysburg ). This second volume finds Lee and his victorious army in Maryland, poised to assault Washington, D.C.. The Confederates hope to capture the capital and President Lincoln, bring a sympathetic Maryland into the Confederacy, gain European recognition and force the Union into peace negotiations. The Union is in a desperate situation. The capital is cut off, Northern cities are burning in the bloody draft riots and the nearest intact Union army is General Grant's western force, rushing to the east from Vicksburg. In the midst of the military chaos, sniping and bickering by generals and politicians on both sides hamper Grant and Lee. Most of Lee's tactical and strategic plans succeed, but he miscalculates Lincoln's resolve and Grant's single-mindedness. And then Grant does something so unexpected that suddenly Lee is the one on the run. Building on their strong first volume, Gingrich and Forstchen craft an original, dramatic and historically plausible "what if?" story. Character depictions—of Lincoln, Grant and Lee; of the soldiers who fight and die; and of the civilians who plot and panic—are vivid, detailed and insightful. This is one of the best novels of the Civil War to appear in recent years. Agent, Jillian Manus. (June)

Forecast: Some general readers may find the book dense, but fans of Civil War fiction will relish the alternative perspective, and even demanding nonfiction buffs will be won over by the novel's stirring battle scenes and convincing historical details. Ten-city au thor tour.