cover image The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee

The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee

Thomas Fleming, . . Forge, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1352-2

Historian and bestselling author Fleming (The Officers' Wives ; When This Cruel War Is Over ) poses an intriguing question in his latest historical novel: what if the victorious Union had put Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on trial for treason? The American Civil War ignited passions on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, and there were those—especially among the Radical Republicans—who favored imposing a harsh peace upon the defeated South. Fleming imagines what might have happened if a cabal of Radicals led by assistant secretary of war Charles Dana had managed to arrange a secret trial of Lee—the very symbol of the South. The story is narrated by New York Tribune reporter Jeremiah O'Brien, a protégé of Dana and the only journalist allowed at the trial, who is torn between his loyalty to Dana and his love for the beautiful Sophia Carroll, a former Confederate spy and a Lee family friend. The Civil War is familiar turf for Fleming, and his characters—both historical and fictional—ring true, as does the dialogue. Fans of counterfactual history and Civil War aficionados especially will enjoy this captivating account of what would have been the trial of the century. (Jan.)