This book received some notoriety from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when a book review of some sort showed up on his goofy headlines segment. The book review, supposedly written by the author of the book, got a lot of laughs from the audience. Hopefully there was a typo or something, for this book by Stephen D. Engle is in fact a good work on the Union Army’s march to the heart of the Confederacy.
Engle relates how the Confederacy placed its worst generals in the Western theatre, and these men failed to protect the center of the Confederacy from being invaded and conquered by the Union. This invasion eventually led to the South being split and its ultimate downfall. But this theatre is where the Union discovered its best generals in U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman. The Confederate generals were focused too much on personal glory and not enough upon the protection of their country. The Union generals, on the other hand, focused on defeating the rebels. Some Union leaders were after glory for themselves, but they were eclipsed by General Grant. He did not relish such things; he only wanted to defeat the South.
The long but interesting chapters composing Engle’s narrative are broken up by illustrations and photos, and further illuminated by endnotes and a bibliographical essay. Engle includes not only the military aspects of the story but also the social, political, and personal aspects, making this more than just another war story.
The chapters are long. There are illustrations and photos. Engle also provides maps. There are endnotes and a bibliographical essay. Engle is the author of Don Carlos Buell (1999), Yankee Dutchman (1999), and several articles, and co-author of The American Civil War (2003), particularly the volume on the War in the West. He is a history professor at Florida Atlantic University.
Struggle for the Heartland is recommended to Civil War enthusiasts, especially those looking for a history of the Western theatre.