--In the Civil War, a Texican fights for The Union at the Battles of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville--
Bestsellers World Review
After reading several books and watching a number of films about the Civil War, I thought I had pretty much seen it all. But in ‘The Sharpshooter, 1862-1864,’ I found something unexpected: a new story of the war that divided a nation.

From the beginning this story surprised me. It’s awfully easy to pigeonhole Texans as being wholeheartedly Confederate during the Civil War, but history tells us this wasn’t the case. Texans have always been fiercely independent, and in ‘The Sharpshooter’ we see that independence come to life in the person of Jurian Baecker, horse breaker and occasional cattle rustler. In love with a woman who married another man, he’s not a perfect man but he tries to be a good man. 

In natural, evocative prose, Charles Phillips tells the story of the transformation of Jurian Baecker to Jake Baker, from heartbroken rustler to driven soldier, from grunt to sharpshooter, from loner to leader. I found myself following along eagerly and wanting to know more…slightly disappointed at the end because I didn’t want it to end, even though we all know already how the Civil War ended. 

I’m not sure what it is that fascinates me so about the Civil War. It was a time of great unrest and great change in the history of the United States. It was confusing and complicated and often infuriating, as countrymen fought against each other using tactics that seem childish by today’s standard of war. 

But Phillips, in ‘The Sharpshooter,’ gets to the heart of it, to the story of one man and the people he cared about and his progression to become more. The tale of Jake Baker is not the story of the Civil War we grew up on, but a story of independence and hard choices and loyalty and friendship. 

In short, ‘The Sharpshooter’ is the story of an America worth fighting for, and Jake Baker is one American who fought the good fight. In the capable words of Charles Phillips, this is a Civil War story that gets it right.  

Rich Stoehr for (12/12)
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