Select one of the keywords
To Try Men's Souls    by Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen order for
To Try Men's Souls
by Newt Gingrich
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2009 (2009)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

This riveting historical novel opens on one of the most important events in American history: George Washington and the American army would cross the Delaware River to mount a desperate attack on the enemy forces in Trenton, New Jersey, on December 25, 1776. Washington had prepared his pitifully small army - all of them freezing and starving - for what would become one of the most famous surprise attacks in all of military history; now, with all preparations made, the resilient general would place his faith in his army and Divine Providence.

Meanwhile, Thomas Paine (of Common Sense fame) was in Philadelphia where he was preparing his newest pamphlet, The Crisis. Based on his own first-hand experiences with Washington's army, Paine admitted, 'I knew the struggle ahead would be hard, but never did I dream that it would come to this, to this level of suffering, filth, pain, and death.' He realized that these 'soldiers were unlike any other the world had ever seen. An army of farmers, shopkeepers, mechanics, sailors, fishermen, laborers, runaway slaves.' Paine also realized that the rebellious and uniquely motivated Americans were living and dying in a singular moment in world history, 'the times that try men's souls.'

Poised on the Pennsylvania side of the nearly frozen river, Washington carefully considered his role as leader: 'Though acting was a profession detested by those of his class,' Washington knew that he 'had to be an actor {...} His lines and every single gesture were well rehearsed, contemplated, and planned. He had to know, before the first shot was fired, every move he would make, for all eyes would be upon him.' Washington cautiously considered the bleak, dangerous scene before him as another boat in his invasion force 'was shoving off into the ice-choked Delaware {River ...}. He sighed. It wasn't like the books he had read on summer evenings on the porch at Mount Vernon or during the pleasant chill of a winter night in his library.' This was something different. This would be either a much needed victory or another humiliating defeat. He thought, 'I must inculcate in all of {the army} now, at this moment, the roles they, too, will have to play .... and that is the role of confidence, strength, and belief that victory {...} is foreordained ... even if I have my own inner doubts and worries.' Washington believed that he and his battered army would have a Divine advantage; he said to a colleague, '{T}his storm is heaven-sent, I tell you. If prayers are indeed answered by Providence, then they have been answered this night.'

This is the essence of the iconic battlefield tale superbly and vividly told in Gingrich and Forstchen's latest historical novel. If you want to understand what was at stake during the American Revolution, if you want to understand the unimaginable sacrifices made by Washington's battered and bloodied army, and if you want to understand their singular belief in the role of Divine Providence in America's birth and survival (and the enduring relevance of that concept in 21st century America), you simply must read To Try Men's Souls. This is one of the best historical novels you will ever read!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews