Robert Bruce, through mostly vignettes of the interactions between President Lincoln, the military officers responsible for testing and purchasing new weapons, and the inventors and backers of the many schemes for new weapons weaves a fascinating story. The President, with an open mind and a Let's Try attitude, the inventors mostly earnest and patriotic though often "odd", the backers many painted as unscrupulous, and the military who ran the gamut from progressives to stalwart conservative who would have used the weapons of their fathers if given the chance.
Bruce shows that the time was one of immense technological advancement. Among the many "modern" weapons getting a first look were the machine gun, the breechloading rifle, the rifled cannon, the submarine, and the torpedo. Lincoln had two notable successes in his dealings with the Ordnance chiefs - the introduction of the machine gun and the acceptance of breechloading rifles. He pushed many weapons which ended dubiously and the machine gun that was ordered, the Coffee Mill Gun, did poorly in the field but it lead to the much-improved Gatling gun which faced none of the largest hurdles to service acceptance.
The author introduces enough background on each of the characters to give the reader a good grounding of the events then related in the vignette. He also makes sure to complete each story so that the reader is left satisfied that each small story is complete.
While not a book about the great decisions of Lincoln, the battles, or the campaigns and generals, this is a fascinating look at the technological and bureaucratic end of warmaking, at a time of rapid technological advance. It paints a side of Lincoln, the mechanic, the tinkerer, not often seen.
I only have time for a single social media outlet, Twitter, and on that outlet there is a lot of talk about promoting indie authors. There are a lot of what I would call ad-tweets, of either the author or their publicist sending a cover photo and a link. Fewer tweets by individuals calling on people to "do the right thing" and support indie authors by "buying their work, reading their work, reviewing their work". And then there are the numerous tweets of support back and forth between writers which are lovely to get and give but not material in the sense of the above.
I think (actually know) that there is a lot of talent toiling without much support, especially when compared to the handful of authors who get a big-name publisher to support them. I heard that you need 50 reviews before Amazon pays any attention to you. I've tried with my circle of friends and the Twitterverse. A lot of hard work for 3, 8, 12 reviews. Still far short of the 50.
I propose a somewhat unconventional giveaway. Each week (life permitting) I will give away up to $10 worth of Kindle books (I'll shoot for 4 different titles each week). You get a chance at the books by retweeting the initial post for the week with the title or author you'd like to win AND a title or author you'd like to see next week. The caveat here is the titles need to have less than 50 reviews on Amazon. Also, no self-promotion.
In addition, if you post a review here, as a comment to the current giveaway post, of any of the books in any of the past five giveaways (I know, it will be harder at first!), you will get an extra entry in the current giveaway.
Finally, to kick this off, please post a comment to this post with any author/title you'd like to see in the inaugural giveaway.
Happy reading. Reviewing. And, for the authors, hopefully selling!
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)