By JERRY McGOVERN
Col. David Fitz-Enz's "The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh 1814" has received a number of awards.
In the book, he describes the British plan to invade the United States during the War of 1812, as well as the battle itself. For 187 years, that Sept. 11, 1814, battle on Lake Champlain was the last time America was attacked.
The title of Fitz-Enz's book, of course, became sadly and shockingly inaccurate Sept. 11, 2001. But "The Final Invasion" remains a serious work of scholarship, bringing attention to a pivotal battle in American history. After the Battle of Plattsburgh, America focused more on expansion than invasion.
In his latest book, "Redcoats' Revenge," Fitz-Enz is doing something very different. Instead of answering a historian's typical question, "What happened and what did it mean?" the author asks a "what if" question: "What if Britain had won the Battle of Plattsburgh?"
Fitz-Enz begins his answer by giving the British a different commander. Instead of Lt. Gen. Sir George Prevost leading the British, as in fact he did, it is Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. The duke is fresh from success in the Napoleonic Wars.
And then in the scenario Fitz-Enz creates, the Duke of Wellington's adversary after his success at Plattsburgh is Andrew Jackson.
So, in this fiction, the Duke of Wellington, Britain's hero at the Battler of Waterloo, and Jackson, America's hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, fight in New York state for control and supremacy.
Fitz-Enz faithfully re-creates the context in which such a conflict would have taken place. This is alternative history, but the details of 19th-century life — including the pre-Plattsburgh lives of Wellesley and Jackson — are accurately portrayed.
If there is a reason to read fictionalized accounts of real history, the reason is that the story is compelling, interesting and honest. If the story carries the reader along and the author does not deceive, separating fact from fiction, the book is worthwhile.
Fitz-Enz's "Redcoats' Revenge" is such a book.
E-mail Jerry McGovern at: firstname.lastname@example.org