Have you ever written a book review?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Richmond Redeemed: A New Edition of a Civil War Classic

Other than for a short time, I have been a member of the History Book Club since I was about 12. In 1981, the book I could not wait to arrive was dropped at our back door since it didn't fit into our mailbox. I spent the next week pouring through its detailed prose and studying the maps (sometimes with a magnifying glass). Part of it was read in dressing rooms on the road while playing with the band Disciple. Little did I know that 33 years later I would print a completely revised and updated version of one of the foundational cornerstones of Civil War publishing. 

Richmond Redeemed pioneered study of Civil War Petersburg. The original (and long out of print) award-winning 1981 edition conveyed an epic narrative of crucial military operations in early autumn 1864 that had gone unrecognized for more than 100 years. Readers will rejoice that Richard J. Sommers's masterpiece, in a revised Sesquicentennial edition, is once again available.

Order this book by clicking here.

This monumental study focuses on Grant's Fifth Offensive (September 29 – October 2, 1864), primarily the Battles of Chaffin's Bluff (Fort Harrison) and Poplar Spring Church (Peebles' Farm). The Union attack north of the James River at Chaffin's Bluff broke through Richmond's defenses and gave Federals their greatest opportunity to capture the Confederate capital. The corresponding fighting outside Petersburg at Poplar Spring Church so threatened Southern supply lines that General Lee considered abandoning his Petersburg rail center six months before actually doing so. Yet hard fighting and skillful generalship saved both cities. This book provides thrilling narrative of opportunities gained and lost, of courageous attack and desperate defense, of incredible bravery by Union and Confederate soldiers from 28 states, Maine to Texas. Fierce fighting by four Black brigades earned their soldiers thirteen Medals of Honor and marked Chaffin's Bluff as the biggest, bloodiest battle for Blacks in the whole Civil War. In addition to his focused tactical lens, Dr. Sommers offers rich analysis of the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and their senior subordinates, Benjamin Butler, George G. Meade, Richard S. Ewell, and A. P. Hill.

The richly layered prose of Richmond Redeemed, undergirded by thousands of manuscript and printed primary accounts from more than 100 archives, has been enhanced for this Sesquicentennial Edition with new research, new writing, and most of all new thinking. 

According to Dr. Sommers, this new edition contains much new material: 168 new printed and manuscript sources, nine new illustrations, 231 new endnotes, two new appendices, even a handsome new dust jacket.  Except for those appendices, the new material is not concentrated in specific places but is interwoven throughout the entire book.  This is especially true for the new thinking, new analysis, new approaches to understanding and presenting generalship.  All these additions make the 150th anniversary edition essentially a new book.  To use your categories, I would estimate that 10% to 20% of the book is new. 

Yet all this new material is available in a book that is actually 28 pages smaller than the 1981 edition.  This is because the current book uses longer lines with slightly smaller type point.

Dr. Sommers' new analysis brings new dimensions to this new edition. In addition to being a selection of the History Book Club (then and now), the National Historical Society awarded him the Bell Wiley Prize as the best Civil War book for 1981-82. Reviewers (then and now) hailed it as "a book that still towers among Civil War campaign studies" and "a model tactical study [that] takes on deeper meaning . . . without sacrificing the human drama and horror of combat."

Complete with maps, photos, a full bibliography, and index, Richmond Redeemed is modeled for a new generation of readers, enthusiasts, and Civil War buffs and scholars, all of whom will welcome and benefit from exploring how, 150 years ago, Richmond was redeemed.

(Stay tuned for a post on the exciting new enhanced e-book for this title.) 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why do we Write? Well, Not for Money.

Please excuse my long absence. It has been a busy year, with my son graduating and getting ready for college (he leaves in 2.5 weeks), band gigs, crazy summer schedules, a marketing director out on maternity leave, and all the rest.

Here is a fascinating article, offered up by Mark Hughes, the author of our bestselling The Civil War Handbook. Write for posterity, because you have to, for fun, or to impress your in-laws. But never, ever, plan to do so for money. Same goes for publishing. But once you have the virus. Ah. Well.

Click here to read the article.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

WINNER of the 2014 Albert Castel Book Award: Stephen Hood's "John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General"

Congratulations, Sam. It is nice to see these reviewers read the book and understood its purpose.

*     *     *

The Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that Stephen M. Hood's "John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General" has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Albert Castel Book Award! This award is made on a biennial basis to the author of an exceptional book on the Civil War in the Western Theater.

“I knew we had a very special book from the moment I first read the manuscript, but all of us at Savas Beatie are thrilled and humbled that 'John Bell Hood' won such a prestigious award,” said Theodore P. Savas, the managing director for Savas Beatie. “We were always confident that anyone who actually took the time to read Stephen Hood's book, whether in reviewing it or for pleasure, would find it original, well-researched, and truly ground-breaking in what it exposes about the state of this slice of Civil War historiography. It surprises people, I think, when they find out Sam's work is not an argument that Hood was the overlooked Jackson or Lee,” continued Savas. “It is about intellectual honesty and rigorous scholarship, and a cautionary tale about both. Anyone writing about General Hood or his tenure with the Army of Tennessee in the future who ignores this book and/or his recently discovered personal papers will do so at his peril.”

See more about this award-winning book here:


“Sam Hood makes a compelling case that Hood’s reputation has been unjustifiably tarnished over the years by authors who have repeated half-truths and myths that are not supported by primary sources. Even people with little or no interest in Hood should read it as a cautionary tale that the things that ‘everybody knows’ are not always true.” –Dave Jordan

Receiving honorable mention is "General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of William S. Rosecrans Influenced our Understanding of the Civil War" by Frank Varney. Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/c889m3o

Mr. Hood will receive the 2014 award on September 19th. The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm, at Westwood United Methodist Church, 538 Nichols Road, Kalamazoo, MI and will be open to the general public. Refreshments will be offered, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hard Rock and Civil War Publishing--A Great Mix.

I must apologize for the lack of recent posts.

Last February my brother and I formed a new band. We used to play all over the Midwest (1979-1981), and set it aside to go back and/or finish college. Careers, marriage, and kids followed, and not a week went by without discussing how much we enjoyed our days in "Disciple," and how fast those days passed us by.

Recently, we decided to give it another go and formed "Arminius." The pressures of travel and aiming for mega success are long past, but the creativity and fun remain.

Our first gig was on May 1, 2014, with three other bands at the famous Boardwalk rock club in Orangevale, California. We had 200+ rocking fans, and delivered a 40-minute power set of UFO, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Angel City, and some original material. What a ball. Looks like we snagged another give gigs out of that one.
Arminius is (left to right): Jack Petterle (drums), Anthony Savas (lead guitar), Ted Savas (bass, vocals),Jay Scheuer (vocals), and Sasha Avanov (lead guitar)

 Recently, we decided to give it another go and formed "Arminius." The pressures of travel and aiming for mega success are long past, but the creativity and fun remain. Our first gig was on May 1, 2014, with three other bands at the famous Boardwalk rock club in Orangevale, California. We had 200+ rocking fans, and delivered a 40-minute power set of UFO, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Angel City, and some original material. What a ball. Looks like we snagged another give gigs out of that one.

Now that things have settled down (a bit), expect more posts as we heat up into the Summer Season of strong releases.

(And if you are on Facebook, you can look up my personal page, friend me, and see all the photos, and some video soon to go up.)


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hood on Sword Writing About General Hood. Part 1.

Cicero. One of my favorites. Right up there with Pliny the Elder, Socrates, and a handful of others.

Click the image to the right, read it, and then click HERE and absorb Part 1 of 4.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

John Bell Hood. The Reviews and News Continues . . .

Over at TOCWOC (The Order of Civil War Obsessively Compulsed), Brett Schulte recently published a balanced review you can read HERE . . .

As did Harry Smeltzer at Bull Runnings, which you can read HERE . . .

and another, under Chris Mackowski and Kris White, at their Emerging Civil War blog, which you  you can read HERE.

More is coming on the latter site. A lot more. Eyebrow-raising more. Soon.

And here it is HOOD ON HOOD. Part 1. Start reading what other reviewers have only hinted about. Start HERE.

-- tps

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Magnificent Seven--Kindle E-books on Sale!

While we all have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. But what they do they do very well, and they are not going anywhere. As publishers and authors, we need to learn how to work with them to stay viable, relevant, and profitable.

Once a publisher reaches a respectable size and has good distribution, it becomes easier to work with Amazon, and by that I mean work together to market and sell books. One of their key promotions is Kindle sales.

The steep price drop is for a limited time (in the current case, just for two weeks), but Amazon supports this with email blasts, links, etc., and we do the same. The result is very strong sales, and in some cases eye-popping sales numbers.

(I have reproduced a photo/screenshot of one of our recent emails with seven of our titles currently available in this promotion.)

You do not need a Kindle to read at this price. Just Google and download the Kindle Ap for your reader. Yes, it is that easy.

How beneficial are these promotional activities?

Here is a good example: Steel Boat Iron Hearts: My Life Aboard U-505, by Hans Goebeler with John Vanzo is now in paperback and just a few short months had about 19 Amazon reviews. This is pretty strong for a U-boat book . Average e-book downloads each month were about 35 or so. (This is off the top of my head but I am sure right in the ballpark.) We offered the book for a one-month sales promotion for $2.99 and Amazon accepted our marketing proposal.

We sold well north of 6,000 units in a single month, and 2,000 more the following month at full price. I am the product of a public school education, but I do have a calculator and understand basic math. Even though Amazon takes a big cut, the numbers work.

In addition, we went from 19 reviews to . . .  334 reviews (average 4.4 stars) in just three or so months. It is now the highest rated U-boat book in the world. This exposure increased print sales as well. It is a win-win-win across the board for everyone--Publisher, author, and Amazon.

Click HERE for a link to the Kindle  version to see the reviews.

So please support our authors and publishing program by downloading one or more of these titles, sharing this information on Facebook, and emailing it to your friends and others.

Thanks, as always, for your support.