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Posted October 13, 2007
When one thinks of the a typical alternate history most stories usually focus on one or more events that if done differently would change the course of the times and bring us into a much different world. What ifs pose a lot of speculation and have kept readers entertained for years. However, The Winter Soldiers, puts a fresh spin on an intriguing premise. With the re-elected of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in the fall of 1864 the Confederate States of America are destined for defeat. The war should be over in a few months. Lee¿s army is caught between a rock and a hard place at Petersburg. The Confederacy is hemorrhaging fast and military options for a victory do not exist. Desperate times call for desperate and imaginative thinking. Southern leaders have devised a scheme they feel will bring a quick and sudden turn around in things and could ensure them a stunning victory. The plan: Kidnap Lincoln and hold him for ransom. The ransom: $50 million in gold and the release of all Confederate soldiers held in Northern prison camps. Southern leaders are confident that this will be a devastating blow to the Yankee¿s morale and will topple the Union government. But Lincoln will have to be kidnaped from the very streets of Washington, D.C. itself. A daunting task that will require clever maneuvering. This kidnaping will be no easy mission. It will require a strategist and someone who has easy access to Washington. It will also require someone who can spill blood without thinking, taking the necessary precautions to see that the mission succeeds at all cost. The South already has a player in place. Philip Bartlett, a Southern aristocrat from New Orleans, has been in Washington since near the beginning of the war. Bartlett is a advocate for Southern independence. He is a man of means, ruthless and a man given to detail. Yet Bartlett does not share the enthusiasm his noble leaders tend to have concerning this mission. He see either success or failure marked with the same end: the defeat of the Confederacy. Philip Bartlett is a soldier and he will follows order, regardless of personal viewpoint. As careful a planner as Bartlett thinks he is, things are about to come unraveled when Union Captain Peter Murphy becomes his unwitting opponent in a cloak and dagger game that moves through the seedy side of the Union¿s capital. Murphy has been sent to Washington for a few months ro recoup from the ravages of war that has scared his soul over the last two years. While in Washington, Murphy stumbles, quite by accident, into a hornets nest of espionage that will sweep him and Philip Bartlett into a deadly dance of deception and murder. Andrew Miller has composed a thrilling alternate history of the Civil War that focuses more on the players than the event that will change history. The readers is quickly drawn into a world of dark maneuvering and ruthless people. Miller paints a believable world of these Civil War times and skillfully guides the reader through the streets of our nation¿s capital, a vivid portrait of how much Washington was and still is a den of cutthroats, espionage, death, disease and political scheming. Miller¿s characters exemplify how we humans can operate in times of desperate trials. This first novel will not disappoint the alternate history or spy-thriller enthusiast. This is a good read and a well deserved one at that.
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