Winner of the American Library Association's 2014 Boyd Award for Literary Excellence in Military Fiction.
Between May 5 and June 3, 1864, the Union and Confederate armies suffered 88,000 casualties. Twenty-nine thousand were killed, wounded or captured in the first two days of combat. The savagery shocked a young, divided nation.
Against this backdrop of the birth of modern warfare and the painful rebirth of the United States, New York Times bestselling novelist Ralph Peters has created a breathtaking narrative that surpasses the drama and intensity of his recent critically acclaimed novel, Cain at Gettysburg.
In Hell or Richmond, thirty days of ceaseless carnage are seen through the eyes of a compelling cast, from the Union's Harvard-valedictorian "boy general," Francis Channing Barlow, to the brawling "dirty boots" Rebel colonel, William C. Oates. From Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee to a simple laborer destined to win the Medal of Honor, Peters brings to life an enthralling array of leaders and simple soldiers from both North and South, fleshing out history with stunning, knowledgeable realism.
From the horrific collision of armies in the Wilderness, where neither side wanted to fight, to the shocking slaughter of the grand charge at Cold Harbor, this epic novel delivers a compelling, authentic, and suspenseful portrait of Civil War combat.
Commemorating the approaching 150th anniversary of this grim encounter between valiant Americans, Ralph Peters brings to bear the lessons of his own military career, his lifelong study of this war and the men who fought it, and his skills as a bestselling, prize-winning novelist to portray horrific battles and sublime heroism as no other author has done.
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During the 30 days of the Civil War that had "torn the country apart," the awful business of killing brings widespread suffering in Peters's impressive historical novel. Peters (Cain at Gettysburg) crafts a lurid spectacle of close, personal warfare; soldiers are drenched in scorching heat and humidity, soiled by rain and mud, choked by drifting smoke, exhausted from marching, and ill with dehydration and dysentery. The carnage is raw, violent, and frighteningly realistic, with deaths by bullet, bayonet, cannon shell, and fire. Some 70 real characters including key officers Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George Meade, Edward Perry, Francis Barlow, and William Oates debate strategy and try to get along. An introspective Robert E. Lee ponders slavery and war: "Madcap fools had made this war, not soldiers. Now the soldiers must win it for the fools." Although the language is coarse, crude, and blunt, Peters can also wax eloquent on the nature of battle, the causes of the war, respect for "blood spilled and brethren lost", and offers occasional profundities: "There was no beauty, no poignancy,' in lives cut short in grim ways once unthinkable...Just this wanton slaughter, this enticing, seductive butchery, irresistible and revolting." This is an insightful, epic novel that nonetheless requires a high tolerance for gore and grit.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Civil War History at its best
Ralph Peters has written an historical fiction regarding the early days of 1864 in a very enlightening and interesting way. His account places the reader in the midst of the battles, the tents of the commanders, and the front lines of the combatants. It is a compelling read. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey!
Hell or Richmond
A must read for a soldiers point of view of events leading up to and including Cold Harbor. Reading this book is the closest one can come to being there. Well Done!
Great historical fiction
This was the first book I have read by Mr. Peters but it will not be my last. I have read many a book on the Civil War since my youth and this ranks right at the top. Very seldom have I ever felt what the participant must have experienced going into battle like this book provides. Very detailed and certainly heart wrenching on both sides. Thank you Mr. Peters. I only wish I had an ounce of your talent.