In this vacuous historical, Skimin (Chikara!, 1984) resurrects a hoary old plot-twist--what if the South had won the Civil War--with a determination that's at best heavy-handed. Instead of crumbling in 1864, the Confederate defenses at Atlanta hold strong, and this so dispirits Union voters that they put Lincoln out and General George B. McClellan in. The war ends immediately; Jefferson Davis remains president of a sovereign Southern nation; and slavery is saved. As the novel opens in 1866, Colonel John Mosby (former famous cavalry raider, now head of Confederate Military Intelligence) is worried about his old pal, J.E.B. Stuart: local newspapers are rehashing the disastrous loss at Gettysburg, blaming it on the flamboyant Jeb's ""dereliction"" of duty, and a court of inquiry has been opened to look into the matter. In the meantime, a rabid bunch of Northern abolitionists (led by Salmon Brown, son of the late John Brown) are infiltrating the South's fairly quiescent blacks with the aim of stirring up trouble (there's even a cameo appearance by Crispus Attucks, who appears to be out of lithium). As the Stuart inquiry reaches its apex, Salmon and his cohorts burst into the courtroom and attempt to gun down Robert E. Lee, President Davis, and even Braxton Bragg--but only Jeb Stuart dies, heroically, before the rebellion is foiled. This is a novel that features hilariously anachronistic dialogue (""Susan,"" says Mosby at one point, ""thank you for being such a nice person!!"") and a complete misrepresentation of the Abolitionist movement. When James Thurber wrote his classic satire ""If Grant Had Been Drinking At Appomattox,"" he might have had novels like Gray Victory in his sights.