Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Sharpe in the American Civil War?
on May 23, 1998
Cornwell is a gifted writer and story teller. When I first became addicted to the Sharpe books I devoured them at the rate of about one every couple of days. I have just recently begun to read the Starbuck books. (I wish Cornwell could have thought of a better name for the main character. Every time I see the name "Starbuck" I think about Dirk Benedict's character in the old "Battlestar Galactica" television show!).
Although this book was very enjoyable, I am afraid that Starbuck is nothing but Sharpe in the American Civil War. It appears that Sergeant Truslow is the Confederate version of Sergeant Harper. Even the plot appears to some extent to be merely a re-working of "Sharpe's Eagle." Just as Sharpe and Harper killed the obnoxious Lt. Gibbons in battle in "Sharpe's Eagle," so Starbuck kills the obnoxious Captain Ridley during the heat of the First Battle of Bull Run.
Mr. Cornwell's command of 19th century military history is excellent except for one error which irritated me and hindered, to some extent, my enjoyment of the book. At several points in the novel Cornwell refers to General P.G.T. Beauregard's army at Manassas as "The Army of Northern Virginia." In reality, this force was called, at this early point in the war, "The Army of the Potomac," which, of course, later became the name for the principle Union Army in the East. (The Southern forces under the command of General J.E. Johnston which arrived in the nick of time at the Battle of First Bull Run was styled "The Army of the Shenandoah.") The Confederate Army in Virginia is not properly known as the "Army of Northern Virginia" until after Robert E. Lee took command of the force in June, 1862. Mr. Cornwell does not usually make errors of this magnitude in his works, and I wonder if this error was merely an oversight or was it intentional?
In closing, although "Rebel" is not "great literature" by any stretch of the imag! ination, it is great entertainment and, like the Sharpe novels, a painless history lesson.