To Try Men's Souls : Revolutionary War

  • by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen
  • Narrated by William Dufris, Callista Gingrich, Eric Conger
  • Series: Revolutionary War
  • 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

After two successful series examining the Civil War and World War II, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen have turned their sharp eye for detail on the Revolutionary War. Their story follows three men with three very different roles to play in history: General George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Jonathan Van Dorn, a private in Washington's army.The action focuses on one of the most iconic events in American history: Washington crossing the Delaware. Unlike the bold, courageous General in Emanuel Leutze's painting, Washington is full of doubt on the night of December 25, 1776. After five months of defeat, morale is dangerously low. Each morning muster shows that hundreds have deserted during the night.While Washington prepares his weary troops for a sneak attack on Trenton, Thomas Paine is in Philadelphia, overseeing the printing of his newest pamphlet, The Crisis. And Jonathan Van Dorn, the youngest son of a merchant from Trenton, is about to bring the war to his own doorstep. In the heat of battle, Jonathan must decide between staying loyal to the cause and sparing his brother, who has joined up with the British. Through the thoughts and private fears of these three men, Gingrich and Forstchen illuminate the darkest days of the Revolution, from the retreat through New York to the fall of Fort Lee and the thrilling Battle of Trenton. With detailed research and an incredible depth of military insight, this novel provides a rare and personal perspective on the men who fought for and founded the United States of America.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Just a dramatized history lesson

Gingrich and Forstchen had a great idea when they came up with what they called "Active History": examining how history would have changed by altering a single pivotal event. What would have happened if Robert E. Lee had won at Gettysburg? What would have happened if the Japanese had pressed their immediate advantage at Pearl Harbor and wiped out the Naval Base's ship repair facilities? It's a wonderful concept, and made for many hours of fascinating reading.

This book is just a history story. Nothing is changed. They have just taken the bare facts of Washington's assault on Trenton and puts words in the mouths of the characters, some historical and some fictional. They tell us how cold it was, how ill-equipped the troops were, and generally they try to add verisimilitude. They let us listen in as Thomas Paine, sitting by a camp fire, hears some soldier talk about how trying the times were, trying his very soul ("Catchy phrase - maybe I can use it!")

The narration was way over the top. I kept getting flashbacks of Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live in his role as "Master Thespian", flinging out his arm and declaring "Acting!" Dufris narrates as if he were auditioning for some stage production, playing each character and scene as larger than life.

A mighty big disappointment to me. I won't be reading the rest in this series. Maybe G&F will come up with some more "active history" and win me back.
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- Bull "Doctor Bull"

It could have been so much more...

Of the 200 books I have listened to, this is the first that I have rated.

I was really looking forward to this, but was very disappointed. It seemed to me as if the authors were trying very hard to prove how difficult a time it was and what horror the men were going through... so hard that they belabored the point and I kept finding myself saying "I get the point...let's get on with it..."

Frankly, the story itself is enough to prove their point. The belaboring almost trivializes it and makes me as a reader/listener feel as if I must need this reinforcement to get the picture.

Character development I felt was sophomoric at best. They didn't feel real, but rather were idealized to the point of rediculousness.

Callista was a horrible reader in this instance. Everytime I heard her it made me think that Newt must have written her part as a reader into the contract. And it just didn't work.

The best part of the book was the straight forward reading of Thomas Paine's "The Crisis" at the end of the book. Well read, meaningful, and interesting.
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- Bob Marean

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2009
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio