Preview: Scott Patchan, “The Last Battle of Winchester”

11 07 2013

Layout 1Savas Beatie continues its summer 2013 deluge with Scott Patchan’s The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 – September 19, 1864. Mr. Patchan is the author of a number of works and is a frequent guide through the Shenandoah Valley and elsewhere. While one might suspect from the title that the this is a somewhat narrowly focused, and shorter, book. Such suspicions are misplaced in this instance. Last Battle weighs in at 474 pages of text (including foot, not end, notes), with 33 pages of OOB and strength info. The bibliography reveals that Patchan consulted a very respectable number of non-published archival sources from across the nation, and leans very heavily on participant accounts. Proof-reading and copy editing can make or break a book – I’ve been fooled before. I haven’t had a chance to read enough of this to get a feel for that end of it, but preliminary indicators for Last Battle overall are positive. It’s definitely worth a closer look.

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9 responses

11 07 2013
doug evans

i bought Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front published by SB. it was impossible to follow. as noted, ‘copy editing can make or break a book’. this was the second badly edited book I have purchased from SB. i will not buy another book published by these guys until they learn how to edit.

11 07 2013
Harry Smeltzer

Hi Doug – it’s not just copy-editing that has taken a hit lately, but simple proof-reading as well. I say it’s epidemic in publishing all around, and it’s why I disclose that what I do here are previews as opposed to reviews, more quantitative than qualitative. In the cases where I read a book cover to cover, I let the reader know and, if need be, let the writer – and publisher – have it.

Editors are at least as important as the author in the process. It’s the rare writer indeed who can’t benefit from a good editor, but every writer will suffer at the hands of a poor one. And bad writers can look great with a good editor.

11 07 2013
Sarah Keeney

Hi Harry. Thanks for this. “Deluge” is right, it’s a busy time here! This book is a big one, coming in at 575+ pages when all is said and done I think. I’ll be curious as to your thoughts on the dust jacket, and something unique we tried there . . .

11 07 2013
Harry Smeltzer

Hi Sarah – I did not notice that. There is an interview with the author on the obverse of the dust jacket. Cool idea!

11 07 2013
Sarah Keeney

Hi Doug,

Sarah here from Savas Beatie. Thank you for your comment. We are glad to hear that you read Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front, and appreciate the comments. We have a rigorous editing and proofreading process, but there is always room for improvement. We can make changes to the second edition when the book goes back to press. Please feel free to email me ( if you have a list of corrections that we can incorporate into the next printing or if you’d like to discuss this further. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Sarah Keeney
Savas Beatie

12 07 2013
John Foskett

Harry: One thing that seems to characterize Scott’s books is a good eye for terrain and its influence on the course of a battle. I’m looking forward to this one, especially since it’s about a battle I’m not all that familiar with. Your point about copy editing and proof reading is well-taken. It is literally epidemic these days, and my experience with SB books is that they’re no worse at this than are some of the academic presses.

12 07 2013
Theodore. P. Savas

@Doug. Ted Savas here. I see Sarah from our press already replied above.

I know and have many friends in the academic (and other presses) and finally proofing can be hit and miss depending upon the proofer. We have several we use, and two new ones. Not to make an excuse (because the final product is my responsibility, period), but once it goes to the proofer and corrections are made–you can’t read it again. And again. Because the process would never end. Sometimes you get a sloppy performance by a qualified proofer, and sometimes you get an average proofer who doesn’t do as well as we would want.

Rest assured we will examine the pedigree of that particular book, and figure out what went wrong and where and, to the best of our abilities, correct it. Please, meanwhile, contact Sarah at the address she provided ( She would welcome hearing from you.

Thanks a lot.

Ted Savas

13 07 2013
Mike Peters


If it means anything, I am of the opinion that Savas Beatie is the best CW book publisher out there. Re: “Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front, ” I am about halfway through it and am enjoying the read.


Mike Peters

13 07 2013
Theodore P. Savas

@Mike. Thanks for the kind comments, Mike. We deeply appreciate your business and could not do what we do if you did not support our efforts.

On “Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front”: I have not read the final printed book (there is simply no time.) I read nearly all in complete first draft manuscript form. I then either developmentally edit a project (I personally developmentally edit only a few books a year; I cannot do more any longer because of the time constraints of running a growing business). If I do not, I pass a manuscript on to a developmental editor, and then it goes to a copy editor, etc.

I have heard from at least a dozen readers (email, phone, etc.) about how much they are enjoying this title. And I know Chris and Kris are outstanding researchers and writers. This comment thread was the first negative comment we have heard, and my job is to address them. I am very interested, however, in discovering any problem and rectifying it for future books and in later CFF printings, of which there is no doubt there will be more. Indeed, we are nearly sold out already.

Have a great weekend, all.


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