Review of my First Book, War’s Cost by Online Book Club

I am gratified by Rosemary Wright’s review of my first book, War’s Cost: The Hites’ Civil War for the Online Book Club on March 8th. It’s hard to believe that I have written three books in little over three years, and I was in a steep learning curve when I wrote this one! Nonetheless, Ms. Wright awarded it four out of four stars:

“War is hell. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.” I extracted that thought-provoking quote by General William Tecumseh Sherman from the book, War’s Cost, which is written by Dr. Eugene DeFriest Betit. The narrative unveils the Hite family’s involvement in the American Civil War and its consequences. It provides some information about the numerous Hites who fought in Virginia’s military units.

Eugene begins the book by telling how Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was developed. He reveals how Major Isaac Hite Jr., a prosperous Shenandoah Valley farmer and businessman, constructed Belle Grove Plantation near Middletown between 1794 and 1797, which later became a site of one of the major battles of the Civil War. The author presents a brief historical account of the life of Major Isaac’s grandfather, Jost Hite. In 1732, Jost was granted 100,000 acres in the valley on condition that he settled one hundred families.

Being a documentary, War’s Cost is intriguing and engaging. It offers new insight into the genealogy of the Hite family, showing how the different members of the family were related to each other. It reveals their dates of birth, accomplishments, involvement in the war, how they died, and where they were buried. The book is coherent and enlightening. It’s about 107 pages, but it provides a lot of information. However, it’s somewhat a serious read, and it requires full concentration to actually grasp its contents. If you don’t enjoy reading books loaded with genealogical details and dates, you may skip this one.

Furthermore, the book tells about education in Shenandoah Valley, how slavery existed in all the colonies, how the Hites participated in the war, the survivors, life after the war, and how four years of combat in the valley left most farms devastated. The narration ends on page 54. Afterwards, the author included endnotes and appendices for additional information. Again, some black and white photos as well as some figures were added to enable readers relate to the various stories about the Hites.

Finally, I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It was professionally edited. The only error in the whole book is a part of Appendix C which is upside down. I couldn’t rate it lower because it’s interesting, and it contains unique information about the war. Historians or anyone interested in the American Civil War stories will love it.

Betit’s Comment: CreateSpace (that would be seems to have quality control issues. I received about ten copies with a quarter-inch white streak down some pages. Unfortunately, I discovered that in a copy I sold to my brother! I will say that they replaced the deffective copies, but it gives one an uneasy feeling. There’s a lesson here — authors can’t catch this kind of gaffe. The galley I reviewed was definitely not like the reviewer’s copy, nor do the copies I have examined at home have an Appendix C like that!

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Gene Betit

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