From Library Journal
Recently, Joshua Chamberlain has emerged in the popular mind as the archetypal Union military hero, based largely on the actions of his regiment, the 20th Maine, at Gettysburg. His image now appears on T-shirts, and he has been immortalized in film and in prose. In short, his lifelong effort to fashion a heroic image of himself has prevailed. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Pullen's brief examination of Chamberlain's postwar life. Pullen, whose previous work includes a marvelous study of the 20th Maine, falls prey to uncritical hero worship, unpersuasively portraying Chamberlain as a martyr to his belief in sectional reconciliation while unquestioningly accepting his minimal interest in the fate of the freedmen. Pullen does remind us that Chamberlain pursued a public career in Maine politics and at Bowdoin College, but the patchwork nature of the prose, the author's ruminations about today's world, the acceptance of Chamberlain's words at face value, and the unyielding admiration of author for subject result in a flawed book.?Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
John J. Pullen, a renowned Civil War historian, also wrote Joshua Chamberlain: A Hero's Life and Legacy (978-0-8117-0886-9). He lived in Maine, writing about the Civil War until his death in 2003.
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