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Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam [Paperback]

Stephen W. Sears
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 30, 2003 0618344195 978-0618344192 1

Combining brilliant military analysis with rich narrative history, Landscape Turned Red is the definitive work on the Battle of Antietam.


The Civil War battle waged on September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek, Maryland, was one of the bloodiest in the nation's history: on this single day, the war claimed nearly 23,000 casualties. Here renowned historian Stephen Sears draws on a remarkable cache of diaries, dispatches, and letters to recreate the vivid drama of Antietam as experienced not only by its leaders but also by its soldiers, both Union and Confederate, to produce what the New York Times Book Review has called "the best account of the Battle of Antietam." 

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Editorial Reviews


"The best account of the Battle of Antietam." The New York Times Book Review

"A modern classic." The Chicago Tribune

"No other book so vividly depicts that battle, the campaign that preceded it, and the dramatic political events that followed." -- Washington Post Book World The Washington Post

"Authoritative and graceful . . . a first-rate work of history." Newsweek


"The best account of the Battle of Antietam." The New York Times Book Review

"A modern classic." The Chicago Tribune

"No other book so vividly depicts that battle, the campaign that preceded it, and the dramatic political events that followed." -- Washington Post Book World The Washington Post

"Authoritative and graceful . . . a first-rate work of history." Newsweek
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618344195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618344192
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book out there on America's bloodiest day April 10, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having just toured the Antietam battlefield, I once again appreciate how good of a book this is. The story of Antietam is one not so much of what did happen but what might have been. Lee had his back to the river and was heavily outnumbered. McClellan once again had another chance to deal a crushing blow to Lee and once again due to his inability to press the fight let's him off the hook.
As much as anything this book is about the generals and how they approach the battle as it is about who shot who where and when. On the one side you have Lee moving his troops from one end of the field to another in perhaps his greatest achievement of the war. On the other side you have McClellan who is frozen by indecisiveness.
As for the writing style, Sears again shows why he's one of the more talented writers in the Civil War genre today. The book reads like a good novel thanks to Sears's writing talents. This book is easly the best book out there on the battle of Antietam and I highly recommend it to anyone.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and clear analysis of America's bloodiest battle! September 17, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a splendid analysis of a pivotal battle of the early Civil War, in which two great and relatively green armies have at one another in a battle which contains the bloodiest single day in American military history. Sears does a fine job of explaining to the reader why this battle had vast strategic as well as military significance. Britain and France were on the verge of intervening on the Confederate side, because their textile industries were screaming for cotton (Southern cotton was blockaded by the Union Navy) and accordingly their textile workers were screaming for jobs. (This is language that politicians understood well, then as now.) President Lincoln thoroughly understood the dynamics of this risk, realized that once these foreign powers intervened that the Union cause was almost certainly lost. He prepared the Emancipation Proclamation, which Sears shows to have been a political masterstroke. It made it politically impossible for any Great Power to support the South and slavery against the Union and abolition.
But there was a problem before the battle occurred, and Lincoln knew this too: the Union Army in the east had suffered a continuous series of defeats. To announce the proclamation abolishing slavery without a victory to herald it would be a terrible sign of weakness; one that might only encourage intervention. Lincoln needed a victory in the east first. When Lee's army crossed into Maryland, the President knew he had his chance for the victory he needed. And therein lies a fascinating story which Sears presents crisply and with unusual clarity.
Sears has a gift for explaining a lot of details of a battle without completely losing the reader, as so often happens in this type of book.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Danse Macabre June 2, 2005
Say "Gettysburg" to most Americans and recognition dawns in their eyes. But many Americans have trouble even pronouncing "Antietam." The Confederate name for this battle, "Sharpsburg" is easier to say but less well known.

Despite its relative anonymity, this hideous Civil War battle claimed more casualties in one day than America lost in its Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War and World War One combined.

It's difficult even to gauge the number of battle deaths, since the low velocity and large caliber of Civil War-era weapons inflicted terrible wounds which were untreatable by the medicine of the day (no anaesthetics, no antibiotics, and no idea of antiseptics). Scores of men died of their wounds months or years after the battle. Hundreds of unknown soldiers were buried in mass graves, blue and gray together.

As Stephen Sears shows us, tactically, Antietam was at best a draw. Strategically it put the Confederacy into a slow downward spiral from which it never recovered. It ennobled the Union cause by resulting in the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Sears does a masterful job of exploring the battle, its causes, its results, and most of all, its moment-to-moment details. While LANDSCAPE TURNED RED (the title is taken from a Union soldier's report that he literally saw red in the midst of the battle) is never as vivid as a novel, it does place the reader squarely in the thickest mists of the fog of war. Sears never loses the thread, and he is able to make sense of the chaos on the field in relation to the whole, a challenging task in regard to this bedlam of a battle.

LANDSCAPE TURNED RED is also an indictment of the waste of war. Sears admires neither battle commander. Robert E.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential Civil War reading October 21, 2006
I first read "Landscape Turned Red" along with Dick Estelle on Radio Reader almost 25 years ago. Many years later I still find it fascinating. I hesitate to say "entertaining", given the subject matter - "combined casualties for those twelve hours of combat came to 22,719. No single day of this or any other America war would surpass this fearful record." The accounts of men dying and horses dragging around their entrails pain my heart. But for the historian and buff, it is indeed fascinating.

Sears provides a very good description of the political situation and events preceding the battle, the skirmishes immediately before Antietam (e.g. Harpers' Ferry, etc.), and then the battle itself. His use of successive, chronological maps provides an excellent accompaniment to the narrative. Too many books on battles skimp on maps.

Sears gives a compelling indictment of McClellan. Stanton called him "master of cant"; Welles said he was "an intelligent engineer but not a commander"; Ben Wade said "Place him before an enemy and he will borrow like a wood chuck". Reading McClellan's letters to his wife makes my skin crawl - his delusion and arrogance are hard to fathom - or forgive.

Despite all of his advantages - from the discovery of Special Order 191 to his superior numbers - McClellan's personal performance was sub-par if not negligent, betraying the courage of his men. He had committed barely 50,000 infantry and artilleryman ... a third of his army did not fire a shot. He repeatedly applied his troops in "driblets" with out coordination or mutual support.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written
This is one of the best books I have read about the civil war. You could vision the bloody landscape and struggle that was endured by both armies and it makes you want to visit the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by William MacDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best
In my opinion the best Civil War writer. Not too much; not too little, with candid objective judgments. Also, not afraid to say no body knows what really happened. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Michael Margello
5.0 out of 5 stars The best account of Antietam?
I haven't read every book on the battle of Antietam, but I would be surprised if I ever find one better than this one. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bradley Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Antietam
This is a brilliant analysis of a brutal and ghastly battle. Sears does an excellent job laying the foundation leading to the "blood soaked" battle. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Phillip Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!
Loved it! One of the best single battle civil war books I've read. It does a great job of clearly explaining the play by play of the horrific play in an easy to follow and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Erik Snell
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best of Civil War histories
This volume ranks among the best works of military history that I have read. Sears is a top-drawer writer and historian, and this book displays both those skills. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. H. Cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
I had the opportunity to visit the Antietam battlefield several years ago. The site of this battle is incredibly beautiful. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. milne
4.0 out of 5 stars A historic narrative.
Well written and factual. Describes detail the command structure and units of both sides engaged in the battle. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sea Dawg
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Account of this Devastating Battle
This is an excellent account of the bloody battle at Antietam. The author has obviously researched the history of events in grand detail. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Brian Shul
5.0 out of 5 stars Antietam
Great book. Highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the history of the Civil War and is very well written.
Published 6 months ago by get
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