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Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War Paperback – June 5, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bearss presents the story of the Civil War as he has in the battlefield tours he has conducted for many years. A former chief historian of the National Parks Service, he chronicles 14 crucial battles, including Fort Sumter, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and Appomattox, the battles ranging between 1861 and 1865; included is an introductory chapter describing John Brown's raid in October 1859. Bearss relates the details of terrain and tactics and of personalities and command decisions; he personalizes generals and politicians, sergeants and privates. The text is augmented by 80 black-and-white photographs and 19 maps. A chance to tour battlefields without leaving home. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Every epic deserves a Homer. In Ed Bearss, the Civil War may have finally gotten one." —The Washington Times

"[Bearss] evokes almost hallucinatory sensations on the battlefield" —The Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426200935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426200939
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on May 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A special book for those with a military bent of mind and an interest in our Civil War. Written as if spoken to you directly on each battlefield by a guide of immense knowledge of both the movement of troops and the local terrain. Every young officer in the current U.S. military should read and learn from Edwin C. Bearss, an extraordinary career employee of the U.S. National Park Service.

As for battles, I learned the most from the chapter on The Wilderness. The author brought me a much better understanding of this important battle than I had prior to taking up his "Fields of Honor."

Finally, the selection of the limited number of photographs presented in this volume was done by someone with a gift for this sort of thing.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A. B. Powers on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good terrain walk on a civil war battlefield. Transcribed from tapes of former National Park Service Chief Historian Edwin Bearss' battlefield tours, "Fields of Honor" provides a chronological, operational overview of the American Civil War by discussing two or three battles from each year of the war.

As I read I could take a break, close my eyes and easily imagine myself at Gettysburg or Shiloh, a cool breeze drying the sweat on my face as I hiked up to a point of interest with a small group, ready to hear Mr Bearss' insights on the fight.

This book is a great primer for anyone new to reading about the war as it covers the better known battles and places them in context, and maintains a decent balance between the Eastern and Western theaters. It is also a treat for the more experienced student to accompany Ed Bearss, albiet virtually, as he teaches the reader to look at familiar ground in a new way.

The highlight of this book is the chapter on Mr Bearss' involvement with raising the USS Cairo from the Yazoo River. Its greatest drawback is the (all too common in books about battles) lack of detailed maps. Keep a good Civil War atlas or your Trailhead Graphics maps handy.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. B. Rogers on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a member of Blue and Gray Educational Society. I have been waiting for over a year for this book to come out. For those of us that have been in the field with "the grand old man," Ed Bearss, the book will take you there. You can hear the gruff old voice as he walks back and forth on "the lovely ground." I spent 4 years touring every field of the Ed Bearss Essential Civil War tours. This book is a must read! From the wooded hills at Little Round Top where the echoes of the guns of the 20th Maine can still be heard (for those with ears to hear) to the rolling ground of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, Mr. Bearss will make it come alive again. There is a sense of romantic involvement here...but there is nitty gritty history as well. Our group had descendents of both the Federal and Confederate fighting men. At Chancelorsville, a fellow physician and I debated the historical effect of "Fighting Joe Hooker's" likely head injury that cost the Army of the Potomac the field (and the victory that was clearly in their grasp). At Vicksburg, we climbed the sweaty way up to the top of what is left of Champion Hill (where we found a tattered Confederate flag hanging from a makeshift pole)and we "saw" with Ed the view across to what was "fortress Vicksburg" some 20 miles away. We had professional and amature historians on our tours, we had descendents of veterans tracing their ancestors histories, we had producers of the films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, and more than anything else, we had Americans in search of their heritage. This book is a compendium of the verbatim interpretations of the battles made by the historian emeritus of the National Park Service himself.

As for the mud: ask Charlotte from Cape Cod about the mud in Antietam...we were hip deep and loving it.

Get the book. Read it. If you are a historian of the Civil War, for heaven's sake, get into the field with Ed Bearss while you still can. You won't regret a minute of it.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Charles H. Clark Jr. on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Bearss is a wonderful treasure trove of information and many people, myself included, enjoy his battlefield tours. This volume offers an encore of those tours, but little else. I suspect it is aimed at the Civil War book buying audience who purchase most anything with the names Bearss and McPherson attached.

For some reason the text shifts font between historical narrative and Bearss' tour guide transcript. One supposes this is to spread the blame.

Considering Mr. Bearss' emphasis on the 'ground' and that the National Geographic Society is the publisher, the maps are amazingly poor and undetailed.

Similarly, the book makes poor use of photographs: why use an 1850s photo of Lee, retouched to add a beard, when so many others exist?

Another photo of 'Winfield S. Hancock' sure looks an awful lot like Ambrose P. Burnside.

A typical Civil War buff will glean little from this publication and a novice will not have the prerequisites for filling in the narrative's many gaps.

In brief, even though I can 'hear' Mr. Bearss wonderful voice speaking the words, the book itself falls well short of expectations.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Civil War enthusiast, I count myself lucky to have had Bruce Catton and Ed Bearss during my lifetime. Catton's work introduced me to the war during the centennial and Bearss' has helped me understand the Vicksburg Campaign and guided me through Brice's Cross Roads. Both men have helped us understand this very complex subject and put their unique stamp on the war.

Bearss excels as a battlefield guide, his insights and story of events is both unique and compelling. This book gives all of us a chance to roam a field with Bearss whenever we wish. We can almost hear his voice, feel the warmth of the sun and smell the grass. While the book isn't a deep history, it is great fun while proving us with an excellent overview of the selected battles. This is a book that can be picked up, put down but will always be enjoyed.
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