A Book Review
of Forrest Bryant Johnson's
The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America's Desert Military Experiment
By Lance Zedric
The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America’s Desert Military Experiment by Forrest Bryant Johnson (Berkley, 2012), is everything you wanted to know about American history from 1820 to the Civil War wrapped around the U.S. Army Camel Corps like a pig in a blanket. That’s right—Camel Corps!
Born from the need to explore and traverse the wild, dangerous and unforgiving deserts of the American Southwest and the Utah Territory in the mid-1800’s, the U.S. military undertook a bold and radical experiment and purchased camels to bear the burden of transporting men and material across the Mojave, and other inhospitable areas, and to serve in battle when needed, which they did into the Civil War (tiny spoiler alert). These exotic (and dirty) beasts were better suited to desert travel than horses or mules and were virtually sun resistant. The trick was getting a horse-loving military establishment to buy into the idea.
Forrest Johnson, noted author of Hour of Redemption and Phantom Warrior, among others, sinks the hook into the reader from the first page with a masterful twist, and seasons each chapter with a lively blend of American heroes and infamous villains that create an eye-popping page turner that every American will learn from and enjoy. Camel Charge is history at its finest—not a staid retelling of dry facts, but an historical oasis teeming with interesting characters and an amazing central story that quenches and satisfies to the last drop.
After reading the book, the reader will have a new appreciation, and perhaps a grudging respect, of the role camels played in the taming of America. The Last Camel Charge is a great read, and without reservation, is a literary horse of a different color. Get the book! Gen/Gen. Five stars! Copyright© by Lance Zedric, 2012.
NOTE: Forrest Johnson is a long-time friend of the Alamo Scouts and is the author of Raid on Cabanatuan, Hour of Redemption, Phantom Warrior, and other fine books.
Email Forrest at: Frostyfox69@yahoo.com