About the author: "Kevin Levin is a historian and educator currently living in Boston. From 2000 to 2011 he taught American history at the St. Anne's - Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. His published work in the area of Civil War history and historical memory can be found in popular magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. He is currently researching the history of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry."
This is a review of Kevin Levin's book, "The Crater," and Levin's blog that supports the book. This review is my opinion only. Feel free to check out Levin's blog, which gives an eye opening nuance into Levin's thinking and agenda. A window into the author's life and musings outside his book is helpful in understanding the author's intent and agenda in writing a book, and thus reflects directly upon the accuracy of the book. Thus this review includes a review of Levin's blog that supports his book. Levin's book should be considered a poorly written fictional account of the Battle of the Crater.
The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg. It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant).
After weeks of preparation, on July 30 the Federals exploded a mine in Major Gen. Ambrose E. Burnsides' IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. Grant considered the assault "the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war."
The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Brig. Gen. William Mahone. The breach was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero's division of black soldiers was badly mauled. This may have been Grant's best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Burnside was relieved of command for the last time for his role in the debacle, and he was never again returned to command.
I will be accused of not reading the book by Levin's supporters, but please read on. I don't trust Levin to know truth in any form. The author harbors extremely biased opinions against those he does not understand especially southern people. In one rant on his blog Levin refers to one southerner as "bat s*** crazy." Is this the kind of language that should come from an educator, scholar or author? I think not.
The historical facts in the book, backed up by Levin's assumptions, are nothing but opinions and assumptions and half truths. On occasion Levin spins the story to lull the reader into believing the research is impeccable, and that Levin understands and writes the only true account of history. Only fools, and the naive will be taken in by such garbage.
Like many authors whose sole purpose seems to be making money writing books, and profiting from spinning a Civil War story, Levin has a blog peddling his book. Check out his blog in support of the book for eye openers. Most posts that disagree with his opinion will not be allowed on his fully moderated blog. Levin carefully moderates each and every post, and his agenda shows through with the posts that he allows on the blog.
Occasionally Levin will allow a post that disagrees with his agenda. In response to such posts Levin will misuse words, take statements out of context, and slam the commentator in a way to make the commentator look ignorant and "dumber" than a fifth grader, and then close the comments to further commentary. I suggest Levin used his blog in this way to gather material for the book.
I don't understand how a well respected Civil War author such as David Blight was fooled by Levin. Posted on almost every page of Levin's blog is Blight's short comment about Levin's book. In part Blight states, ". . . showing us a piece of the real war that does now (sic) get into the books." The word "now" is probably misspelled and really means "does NOT get into the books." Friends there's a reason Levin's garbage does NOT get into the books. It's pure fiction.