Savannah, Or, A Gift for Mr Lincoln

Written by John Jakes
Review by Mark F. Johnson

Following in the footsteps of the excellent Charleston, Jakes moves on to examine the siege and taking of Savannah in detail. As with Charleston, the Civil War as a whole is examined using a city and its inhabitants instead of a battlefield and soldiers to tell the tale. Hattie Lester, whose widowed mother is trying to hold onto a small farm just outside Savannah, is coming of age and is smitten with a young man about to “see the elephant” for the first time. The story follows the trials and triumphs of her family and friends, which brings her into contact with none other than General William T. Sherman.

I’ll state the obvious here: this story is exceptionally well written. Not that you’d expect anything less from this accomplished storyteller. Jakes is masterful at characterization and dialog. His stories are always a pure pleasure to read, and Savannah is no exception. When you can hear the sounds and smell the odors, and when your heart beats faster as the battle approaches, you know you’re reading a great novel.