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Shelly's Book Journal

The 3 Rs: Reading, Reviews & Recs.

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The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
Shelby Foote
Progress: 380/976 pages

A Memorable Book on Gettyburg

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion - Allen C. Guelzo

With the Gettysburg 150th anniversary this year, this book makes a great read.


I have read and enjoyed a number of the historical fiction accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg, but there is nothing like a well-written narrative account to truly give the reader the full experience of the event.  This is one of those books.

Guelzo gives us the usual background information on events preceding the war, but also discusses the politics of being in the Union or Confederate Army Leadership.  Virginia rules in the South.  There's a pecking order in the North which still has an umbilical cord to McClellan.  This is very helpful information in understanding events as they unfold, and why certain decisions are made by different generals during the battle.

The books relis on many, many accounts left behind by participants and eye witnesses to the fighting - more than 100 pages.  But yet the story flows and keeps the reader engaged.  The quotes are expertly woven into to the author's writing, where one enhances the other. The average reader who has an interest in the Civil War and this battle could easily read and enjoy this book.

The author obviously has his own opinions on who is accountable for the successes and failures of the day, but he writes it in such a way that allows the reader to also draw some of his own conclusions.  But, as with any historical narrative, the author's own bias can never really be discounted.

Overall I LOVED this book.  It really filled in gaps in my own Gettysburg knowledge.  It didn't ignore the "popular" Gettysburg stories, but gave a more balanced account of the various points of fighting and their significance in the overall picture of things, not pushing the "romantic" favorites, but standing on the true deeds of men who did not always live to tell the stories of the day.  I appreciate that perspective in trying to teach my own children about the past.  The best stories are sometimes the ones you have to dig deeper to find.  And the author did dig deep.

Highly recommend for non fiction lovers - especially those who enjoy history and the Civil War.  I recommend it for everyone, because history is important, and this book will expand even the most average American's knowledge of this pivotal battle and the Civil War in general.