Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: A New Birth of Freedom by Robert G. Pielke

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor
by Robert G. Pielke
Release Date: August 15, 2010
2010 Altered Dimensions Press
Softcover Edition; 226 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-936021-23-9
Genre: Historical Fiction / Science Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Tribute Books

When a stranger carrying a shiny, metalic valise steps aboard a train carrying Abraham Lincoln home from a 2 year stint in Congress, everyone stares, wondering about the stranger’s odd clothing and strange footwear with the word Nike emblazoned on them.

When the strange man shows up in Lincoln’s office at the White house 14 years later, still wearing the same clothes, carrying the same valise and looking not a day older, the president and his staff know something is odd.

But when Edwin Blair opens his valise and projects a 3d image of the Earth on Lincoln’s wall, then proceeds to tell a fanciful tale about time traveling aliens preparing to land at Gettysburg on July 3rd, they are sure they’ve met a lunatic.

Unfortunately for them, they’re wrong.

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor, is the first science fiction time travel book in a new alternate history series that follows the adventures of Edwin Blair and the aliens known as Pests as they chase each other through all the centuries of Earth’s past, present and future.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this interesting and fascinating twist on the Civil War.  I had the privilege of visiting Gettysburg for the first time last summer, and learned about the horrible conditions and the massive loss of life and the aftermath the battle had on the citizens in the area.  It stayed with me for days afterwards, and although it's an area of history I am not as familiar with, I decided to remedy that situation.  Therefore I leapt at the chance to review this book.

Edwin Blair is a desperate man who travels more than three hundred years in the past in order to stop an alien invasion force that has taken over the United States in the future.  It is something he has already done several times, each time correcting an error he has made, to perfect the time travelling technique, to stop the Pests from taking over at the Battle of Gettysburg and destroying his future home.  He is in a quandrary most of the time, never knowing how much information to provide to the historical figures he has so much knowledge about in the future, and how much information he should withhold.   But when things change dramatically, and they capture prisoners of war, Pests who are willing to communicate and help, rather than destroy, it changes all of his plans, and the future.  Blair needs to trust the people he has studied to help him with a future he no longer knows.  I love how Blair leaves himself little clues, without remembering how and why he did it, to help himself remember, but doesn't know what they mean or how to use them.  It just leaves you wanting to know more and gives you a little insight into what might happen in the next two books.

I enjoyed reading about the historical figures; in particular, about the meeting between General Meade and General Lee.  They had to work together in this novel in order to help fend off the invasion, and a meeting between the two of them at Gettysburg would have been historical indeed.  Throw in all of the other famous generals and colonels, and it was so momentous.  The tension was thick, but the author did a brilliant job tying everything together yet keeping true to what we know of all of the different personalities and the time period.  I couldn't get enough of all the famous personalities, including Abraham Lincoln, and enjoyed it so much.  Because I've been there, I could visualize the entire setting in my mind, with the dead bodies all around them, for the battle did happen for the first two days before the events in this novel. 

I really enjoyed reading an alternate reason for the carnage of the three days of the Battle.  Sometimes when something so horrible happens, we often look for other reasons as to how an event like this can occur.  How is it possible that so many men could have possibly perished in three days, with a like number of men injured?  How could men have continued with the horrid conditions that surrounded them, watching friend and foe shot down, knowing they could be next?  Mr. Pielke gives us an alternate reason for the horrible actions of those three days, an alternate solution that justifies the unbelievable devastation that took place over this time.  What if everything was not as it seemed?  What if the Battle was different that what we thought?  Would it be more palatable if another force was responsible for what happened?

A New Birth of Freedom; The Visitor was a fascinating novel about the Battle of Gettysburg with a science-fiction twist.  The arrival of the Pests, an alien life force, changed the Battle forever and forced the two contending sides to work together against a common foe with life-altering changes.  I enjoyed the historical descriptions and especially enjoyed the historical personalities present in this novel.  I am eagerly looking forward to the second novel in this trilogy, A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator.

Robert G. Pielke's Bio:

Robert G. Pielke, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, now lives in Claremont, California. He earned a B.A. in History at the University of Maryland, an M. Div. in Systematic Theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the Claremont Graduate School.

He taught on ground and online for countless years at George Mason University in Virginia, El Camino College in California and online for the University of Phoenix. Now happily retired from “the job,” he is doing what he always wanted to do since he wrote his first novel at ten in elementary school. It was one paragraph, three pages long and, although he didn’t know it at the time, it was alternate history.

His academic writings have been in the area of ethics, including a boring academic treatise called Critiquing Moral Arguments, logic, and popular culture. Included in the latter is an analysis of rock music entitled You Say You Want a Revolution: Rock Music in American Culture. He has also published short stories, feature articles, film and restaurant reviews. His novels include a savagely satirical novel on America and its foibles, proclivities and propensities, Hitler the Cat Goes West, and an alternate history, science fiction novel, The Mission.

Most recently, he has updated and revised his book on rock music, which is being republished by McFarland & Co.

He swims daily, skis occasionally, cooks as an avocation, watches innumerable movies, collects rock and roll concert films, is an avid devotee of Maryland crabs and maintains a rarely visited blog filled with his social and political ravings. His favorite film is the original Hairspray; his favorite song is “A Day in the Life”; his favorite pizza is from the original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, MD; and he is a firm believer in the efficacy of “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” Somehow his family and friends put up with him.
Robert G. Pielke's Web Site:
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  1. Great review!!! Sounds like it really takes you back through time, very vividly too. I am glad that you enjoyed it! Its always good to read these kind of books, helps us to remember what our country has been through!!

  2. Thanks Tons and Tons Stephanie!

    I'm glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know what you mean about having visited the battlefield -- that feeling is what prompted me to write the story. [In a very real sense I just allow the story to tell itself to me.]

    Bob Pielke

  3. Stephanie - I wholehearted agree with your sentiments. What happened at Gettysburg - it's hard for the mind to grasp. Having visited the battlefield, you have walked on that hallowed ground first hand. It enlightens your perspective of things rather than simply reading the statistics in a history book. Great review!

    For all those who'd like to follow along on the book's blog tour, please visit

  4. What a great review. I am not so much for historical but wow. This got my attention.