Valley of the Shadow – Book Review
Ralph Peters once again superbly demonstrates his total mastery of the craft of writing historical fiction. Valley of the Shadow joins his previous prize-winning novels of the Civil War—Cain at Gettysburg and Hell or Richmond—as yet another meticulously researched, wonderfully written, compellingly presented account of one of the war’s most important campaigns, the 1864 struggle for the strategically important Shenandoah Valley. Under Peters’ skilled pen, readers are totally immersed in all the drama and excitement of desperate combat and agonizing “life or death” decisions faced by leaders and soldiers on both sides. Commanders such as Union generals Phil Sheridan and Lew Wallace, and Confederate generals Jubal Early and John B. Gordon spring to life as real flesh-and-blood human beings, not merely names in dusty history books. Indeed, Peters’ great gift as a novelist is to bring real history to life, to make readers feel what it was like—is like—to experience combat. The events Peters so marvelously describes occurred over 150 years ago, yet he makes them seem as if they are happening right now, to us!
Jerry D. Morelock, PhD, is a combat veteran and former head of the history department at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Generals of the Bulge: Leadership in the U.S. Army’s Greatest Battle (Stackpole, 2015).