Summary: In 1863, reinforced and rested, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia marched north through Maryland and into Pennsylvania. The goal being to draw out the Union Army of the Potomac and destroy it on its home ground, and in doing so force the administration of Abraham Lincoln to sway for peace.
Review: Guelzo lets you know, in a rather prickly Acknowledgements chapter that primarily acknowledges the battle, that you won’t be walking into the more popular historical non-fiction of McCullough or Ambrose. The reader might be tempted to put the book down having gotten that far, which would be a shame. Guelzo writes well and concisely and (almost despite himself) rivetingly lays out the setup, events of, and aftermath of the American Civil War’s largest battle. Whether due to his skills as an historian or the somewhat cantankerous nature that appears evident in the Acknowledgements and occasionally thereafter, he offers an original take on a much discussed topic that takes none of the well-worn assumptions for granted.
Read-a-likes: For a more prosaic take on the battle, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels remains the standard. Those looking for a DVD should try Gettysburg, which is based on the book. Those looking for further non-fiction reading on the battle of Gettysburg should take a look at Receding Tide by Edwin Bearss or A Glorious Army by Jeffry D. Wert.
Reviewed by: Eric