Esteemed Civil War scholar Guelzo (Lincoln and Douglas) delivers a dense, impressively detailed account of the Civil War's turning point and bloodiest battle. Beginning shortly before the days of the actual engagement, his tome explores all aspects of Gettysburg as a military endeavor and the events that led to it. He addresses politics within the Union and the Confederate governments and armies, the personalities of major players and units, and places all within a greater historical and global context. Guelzo's beautiful prose transforms straightforward facts into a visceral, if gruesome, picture of the time and place (depictions of the injured and dead are as detailed as the discussions of military or political strategy), and supplementary maps and photographs aid visualization. Even while presenting the smallest details Guelzo contributes to a greater understanding of complexities of the battle and the Civil War as a whole—of particular note is a soldier's memory of opposing army bandsmen simultaneously playing "Home, Sweet Home" one night across the banks of the Rappahannock River from one another. While the sheer length and level of required engagement with the text make it not for everyone, readers who are willing to dedicate the time to read it will find this book enriching and enlightening. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013 Release date: 05/01/2013 Genre: Nonfiction
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