To Gettysburg and Beyond: The Parallel Lives of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Edward Porter Alexander

Michael Golay, Author Crown Publishers $27.5 (436p) ISBN 978-0-517-59285-4
Freelance journalist Golay's dual biography of two Civil War colonels, one Union, the other Confederate, dramatizes the differing styles of command of the opposing armies at middle-rank level. Chamberlain (1828-1914) was a gifted recruit who led the 20th Maine regiment and dreamed of personal glory; Alexander (1835-1910), a West Pointer from Georgia, was a practical professional who commanded the artillery in General Robert E. Lee's First Corps. Golay describes how each performed in battle, their actions directly affecting the outcome at Gettysburg (Chamberlain) and Fredericksburg (Alexander). Both enjoyed success in their postwar lives, Chamberlain as governor of Maine, Alexander as a railroad executive; but neither found his work as fulfilling as commanding men in battle. Golay's account of their visits to their former battlefields and their involvement in veterans' affairs offers an unusual perspective on the Civil War. In his analysis of their memoirs (both had ``something of a genius for fighting and the later remembering of it''), Golay compares Chamberlain's saccharine Victorian sensibilities with Alexander's pragmatic repudiation of Lost Cause sentimentality. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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