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Citing an Oversight

January 06, 1985

Garry Abrams overlooked a fascinating aspect of John Jakes' "Love and War" in his otherwise competent review (Book Review, Dec. 2).

As Jakes writes in a brief "afterword" to his new 1,011-page novel, he felt the book needed three things if it were to do its job: detail, accuracy and help from others. I was particularly pleased that in the pursuit of detail and accuracy, this author accomplished something noteworthy that other Civil War novelists (e.g., Tom Wicker in "Unto This Hour" and Gore Vidal in "Lincoln") somewhat conveniently overlooked.

The Union Army was perhaps 20 to 25% black.

Jakes, in a number of historically accurate passages, relates in some detail several distinguished contributions by black military units to Union military success. One of his main themes is that the Union's judicious use of black combat units becomes a significant factor in achieving the ultimate victory over Confederate forces whose civilian and military leaders rejected, to the bitter end, the thought of arming large numbers of qualified, and perhaps willing, blacks. DAVID K. CARLISLE Los Angeles

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