The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Monday, February 3, 2014

VALLEY FORGE by Newt Gingrich and William R Forstchen

Valley Forge by Newt GingrichPublisher:  Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date:  November 2010
Pages:  464
REVIEWED BY WC

About the Book:  In To Try Men's Souls, New York Times bestselling authors Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen cast a new light on the year 1776 and the man who would become the father of our nation, George Washington.Valley Forge picks up the narrative a year after Washington’s triumphant surprise attack on Trenton, and much has changed since then.

It’s the winter of 1777, and Washington’s battered, demoralized army retreats from Philadelphia. Arriving at Valley Forge, they discover that their repeated requests for a stockpile of food, winter clothing, and building tools have been ignored by Congress. With no other options available, the men settle down for a season of agony. For weeks the dwindling army freezes under tents in the bitter cold. Food runs out. Disease festers. The men are on the point of collapse, while in Philadelphia the British, joined by Allen van Dorn, the Loyalist brother of the dead patriot, Jonathan van Dorn, live in luxury.

In spite of the suffering and deceit, Washington endures all, joined at last by a volunteer from Germany, Baron Friederich von Steuben. With precious few supplies and even less time, von Steuben begins the hard task of recasting the army as a professional fighting force capable of facing the British head-on—something it has never accomplished before—and in the process he changing the course of history.   

Valley Forge is a compelling, meticulously researched tour-de-force novel about endurance, survival, transformation, and rebirth. It chronicles the unique crucible of time and place where Washington and his Continental Army, against all odds, were forged into a fighting force that would win a revolution and found the United States of America.

WC's Review:  Newt Gingrich and William R Forstchen have outdone themselves with this remarkable tale of the trials and tribulations of the greatest man in American history. For without the dogged perseverance of this relentless warrior during the 1777-78 winter at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, we Americans would be extending our pinkies while drinking a spot of tea.

Hassled by a powerless and broke congress, penniless colonies, betrayal from subordinate generals, and many Tories in New York and Philadelphia, Washington battles disfavor, the weather, untrained soldiers, and desertion, for the cause of liberty from the tyranny of King George of Great Britain. Such a leader and genuine American does not today exist.

Authors Gingrich and Forstchen delve into the characters and minds of LaFayette, Nathanael Greene, and Mad Anthony Wayne, among other lesser known patriots of the revolution, both men and women. Young Peter Wellesley is an inspiration, as is Daniel Morgan with his sharpshooters.

Another hero emerges in March of 1778 when Baron von Steuben from Germany shows up to offer his expertise in training and reshaping the survivors of Valley Forge into a viable fighting force. His efforts are soon rewarded at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey on June 20 where the revamped colonial army tangles with British forces under the leadership of Sir William Clinton.

Intriguing are the actions and thoughts of British loyalist Allen van Dorn and his mentor, the flamboyant British officer John Andre, aided, no less, by the elegance and flirtatious behavior of two local ladies.

Even with only a smattering of knowledge about the valiant efforts of Washington and von Steuben, this is a must read if the reader desires to obtain an understanding of America's beginning.
Newt Gingrich
About the Author:  Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich (born Newton Leroy McPherson) is an American politician who served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Time magazine selected him as the Person of the Year for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the House, ending 40 years of the Democratic Party being in the majority. During his tenure as Speaker, he represented the public face of the Republican opposition to Bill Clinton.

A college history professor, political leader, and author, Gingrich twice ran unsuccessfully for the House before winning a seat in the election of November 1978. He was re-elected ten times, and his activism as a member of the House's Republican minority eventually enabled him to succeed Dick Cheney as House Minority Whip in 1989. As a co-author of the 1994 Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of the Republican Party's dramatic success in that year's Congressional elections and subsequently was elected Speaker of the House. Gingrich's leadership in Congress was marked by opposition to many of the policies of the Clinton Administration. Shortly after the 1998 elections, when Republicans lost five seats in the House, Gingrich announced his resignation from his House seat and as Speaker.

Since resigning his seat, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant. He continues to write works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction. Recently, he founded the conservative 527 group American Solutions for Winning the Future.