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|Doctorow may have an important name but that doesn't necessarily mean he can write a believeable Civil War novel. For example, I had taken great pains to get my facts right when I recently wrote my Civil War novel, and I know how difficult that can be--especially when you come across historians that don't even agree with one another. I think, as an example, you could take some important historical event--such as the Lincoln assassination and see how different historians treat it. When I covered that event in my book, I described in detail several things that some writers omit--such as the fact that Booth presented a card to the attendant outside of Lincoln's box before entering it, that Booth had to drop down one step before opening the door, and that he had to place a wooden bar against the door to anchor the other end of it into the mortise he had made earlier. Details like that only come from careful research, something only a true advocate of Civil War history and a person patient with research can accomplish.
It's unfortunate that some novelists don't bother to take the time to research their book. Just because it's a novel doesn't mean you can be careless with the facts.