HALLOWED GROUND: A Walk at Gettysburg

James M. McPherson, Author . Crown $16 (144p) ISBN 978-0-609-61023-7

The country's most distinguished Civil War historian, a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Battle Cry of Freedom) and professor at Princeton, offers this compact and incisive study of the Battle of Gettysburg. In narrating "the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere," McPherson walks readers over its presently hallowed ground, with monuments numbering into the hundreds, many of which work to structure the narrative. They range from the equestrian monument to Union general John Reynolds to Amos Humiston, a New Yorker identified several months after the battle when family daguerreotypes found on his body were recognized by his widow. Indeed, while McPherson does the expected fine job of narrating the battle, in a manner suitable for the almost complete tyro in military history, he also skillfully hands out kudos and criticism each time he comes to a memorial. He praises Joshua Chamberlain and the 2oth Maine, but also the 14oth New York and its colonel, who died leading his regiment on the other Union flank in an equally desperate action. The cover is effective and moving: the quiet clean battlefield park above, the strewn bodies below. The author's knack for knocking myths on the head without jargon or insult is on display throughout: he gently points out that North Carolinians think that their General Pettigrew ought to share credit for Pickett's charge; that General Lee's possible illness is no excuse for the butchery that charge led to; that African-Americans were left out of the veterans' reunions; and that the kidnapping of African-Americans by the Confederates has been excised from most history books. This book is a very good thing in a remarkably small package. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/03/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-0681-9
Open Ebook - 58 pages - 978-0-307-52975-6
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7603-4776-8
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7858-3560-8
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