An Irreplaceable Role


Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen’s newest book To Try Men’s Souls (2009), is an excellent historical fiction that clearly illustrates the spirit, passion, willingness, courage, and honor that the 2,500 men fighting for freedom displayed in Trenton, New Jersey December 26, 1776.

You follow George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Jonathan Van Dorn as they handle the troubling situations and odds that face them.

After crossing the Delaware, fatigue, cold weather,low moral, and months of loss and retreat  leads George Washington in a desperate attempt to regain confidence in his men. He makes a final plea. “You have every right to turn away now. You have fulfilled your pledge with honor, and I thank you for thatBut I beg you now to think upon this. That if you turn away now, with the task unfinished, that on this day America may die…You have every right to turn away and go to your home and I shall not stop you…All that can turn you back is the voice within your own souls…The choice is yours. It is in your hands now, not mine…Some of us will stay, some at least will stay and tomorrow will face the final end. and die with pride in our hearts that we died in defence of a just cause and face God with that knowledge which He surely sees as well…I cannot even offer to you the promise of warmth, of shelter, food, or shoes. All I can offer you is a promise of what will rest in your soul if you stay… And that promise is honor.” (Pp. 172-173)

A plea that lead him to loose more men in five minutes than in the battle for Brooklyn Heights. With just 2,500 men, marched on.

Thomas Paine struggling to encapsulate the situation and invigorate soldiers with patriotism and courage in his writings finds his inspiration from Jonathan Van Dorn and writes The American Crisis.

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly:-‘Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

Jonathan Van Dorn, even with health problems, was not a sunshine patriot. Neither were the other 2,499 men who marched to victory in Trenton.

History cannot be forgotten, and what better way to learn it than in an exciting book that you just can’t put down? The only real way to describe this book is: Excellent.



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