A novel by New York Times best-selling author, West Point graduate, and former Green Beret Bob Mayer.
They swore oaths, both personal and professional. From the Plain at West Point, through the Mexican War, to the carnage of Shiloh. They were fighting for country, for a way of life and for family. Classmates carried more than rifles and sabers into battle. They had friendships, memories, children and wives. They had innocence lost, promises broken and glory found.
Duty, Honor, Country is history told both epic and personal so we can understand what happened, but more importantly feel the heart-wrenching clash of duty, honor, country, and loyalty. And realize that sometimes, the people who changed history weren't recorded by it. This book is big, almost twice the length of my usual books, because the story demands a large scale.
Our story starts in 1840, in Benny Havens tavern, just outside post limits of the United States Military Academy. With William Tecumseh Sherman, a classmate, a plebe, and Benny Havens' daughter coming together in a crucible of honor and loyalty. And on post, in the West Point stables, where Ulysses S. Grant and a classmate are preparing to saddle the Hell-Beast, a horse with which Grant would eventually set an academy record, and both make fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives and history.
The key to this series is a simple fact I had to memorize as a plebe at West Point:
Who commanded the major battles of the Civil War? - There were 60 important battles of the War. In 55 of them, graduates commanded on both sides.
That struck me as utterly fascinating and disturbing on a core level. After all, how did men who went to the same Academy, who swore the same oath of allegiance, end up fighting each other? So I decided to take a handful of fictional character and insert them into history, to rub elbows with those who would become great and those who would become infamous. And have them live through events, both epic and personal.
The story ranges from West Point; to a plantation in Natchez, the richest city in the United States where cotton was king; to the only mutiny in the United States Navy; to St. Louis where Kit Carson is preparing to depart on a famous expedition to the west with Fremont that would eventually bring California into the Union; to Mexico, where the United States Army suffered its highest casualty rate to this day and brought most of the western United States into the Union; to the founding of the Naval Academy; to John Brown's hanging; to the firing on Fort Sumter; through First Bull Run; the first battle of ironclads, the Monitor and Virginia; and culminating in the epic battle of Shiloh, where the United States had more casualties in one battle than in all previous wars combined and the face of warfare changed forever.
This is history told both epic and personal so we can understand intellectually what happened, but more importantly feel the heart-wrenching struggle of duty, honor, country and loyalty coming into collision.
This first book will be followed by more books, taking our characters through the Civil War and beyond, into the Plains Wars and further. As they say at West Point: Much of the history we teach, was made by people we taught.
©2011 Bob Mayer (P)2012 Bob Mayer
"Fascinating, imaginative, and nerve-wracking." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Will leave you spellbound." (Book News)
"A treat for military fiction readers." (Publishers Weekly)
I began reading this thinking, "Oh-oh, I've made a mistake. Another book about war and bloodshed, totally aimed for the male reader" Not that guys shouldn't read, you understand. It's just that the books I like and those my husband and brother enjoy are usually quite different. Wrong! This book does concentrate on male characters, and lays most of its foundation at West Point in the early 19th Century. And there is a fair bit of war and preparation for it. But the characterization is done so well, and the interplay between historical events and both fictional and historical figures was so skillfully done, it was hard to put down. The performance was only OK, maybe because his attempt at Southern female narration was annoying, at least to me. Why would women be the only ones with Southern drawls, when at least half the characters were from the South? This one point aside, however, the book is magnificent, and well worth the credit.
An interesting story of human interactions and historical referrences making this novel a standout in listening pleasure.
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