Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Knoxville 1863

Knoxville 1863: A Novel
By Dick Stanley

By late November 1863 the fate of East Tennessee was held in the balance. A detachment from the Army of Northern Virginia under Lieutenant General James Longstreet was sent to Knoxville to prevent the Union Army of the Ohio under Ambrose Burnside from moving to support the Union forces at Chattanooga who were besieged by Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee.

Union Engineers constructed several bastioned earthwork fortifications around Knoxville. One of these was Fort Sanders. Directly west of town, it was a salient in the line of earthworks which surrounded Knoxville on three sides. The fort was protected by a ditch that was twelve feet wide and eight feet deep with a vertical wall of red clay that rose nearly fifteen feet above the ditch.

It is during this time and at this place that Dick Stanley has set his second book, the appropriately named novel, “Knoxville 1863.” Mr. Stanley has taken a unique approach to telling the story of Longstreet’s failed attack on Fort Sanders. His narrative follows the linear chronology of the attack on and defense of the fort, but the story is told from several different view points: inside and outside the fort, civilian and soldier, from both the Union and Confederate points of view. This method of storytelling is both the novel’s greatest asset, as well as its greatest weakness, as it gives Mr. Stanley’s readers a multilayered understanding of what is happening at all points, but there is no one central character to follow through the narrative, which can overwhelm and loose its reader.

In his afterward, Mr. Stanley, takes the time to point out the real historical characters and summarizes what became of them. He also includes a brief discussion of the sources he used in researching the novel. Mr. Stanley has certainly done his homework; his novel rests on a solid foundation of historical facts. It is well written & a joy to read.

ISBN 978-1451580310, CreateSpace, © 2010, Paperback, 230 pages, $7.98

1 comment:

Dick Stanley said...

Thank you for the kind words, Jim. I do appreciate your time and effort.