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The Grand Old Man of Maine: Selected Letters of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 1865-1914 (Civil War America) Hardcover – September 27, 2004

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Anyone with an interest in Chamberlain, the Civil War, Bowdoin College, postwar Maine, or any combination thereof, will enjoy it." -- York County Coast Star, December 16, 2004

"Goulka's introduction and the foreword supplied by McPherson are the best summary of Chamberlain's life and legend I have read." -- Bangor Daily News, December 20, 2004

Remarkable. . . . Presents a rich portrait of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. . . . Artfully piec[es] together a deep selection of his postwar letters. -- Washington Times, February 27, 2005


Goulka has compiled this selection of letters not only to chronicle Chamberlain's deeds but also to reveal the depths of feeling, the commitment to honor, and the obsession for truth that resided in this remarkable man who suffered in almost constant pain from war wounds.--Virginia Quarterly Review

Goulka deserves thanks . . . for giving us a deeper understanding of a genuine American hero.--Civil War News

Jeremiah Goulka should be commended for his work in bringing together Chamberlain's postwar correspondence. His words serve as a reminder that the experience of war remained with the veterans long afer the guns fell silent.--Civil War History

Remarkable. . . . The Grand Old Man of Maine presents a rich portrait of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. . . . Artfully piecing together a deep selection of his postwar letters.--Washington Times

Nowhere can the complexity of a man be ascertained more fully than in the body of his correspondence. . . . Goulka's introduction offers the reader the background needed to appreciate the meaning and motive of Chamberlain's letters.--York County [Maine] Coast Star

Chamberlain's important careers as governor, educator, and chronicler of the war for half a century after Appomattox remain little known. This skillfully edited collection of Chamberlain's postwar letters . . . is therefore an invaluable addition not only to the corpus of Chamberlain biographies but also to our understanding of the war, the Gilded Age, and the construction of Civil War memory.--James M. McPherson, from the Foreword

Goulka's introduction and the foreword supplied by James M. McPherson are the best summary of Chamberlain's life and legend I have read.--Bangor Daily News


Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1St Edition edition (September 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807828645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807828649
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
While some in the Civil War community complain of "Chamberlain fatigue," it is difficult to gripe about this marvelous new collection of postwar correspondence from one of the most articulate officers on either side of the conflict.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain survived the Civil War - including a horrible wound at Petersburg - to become one of Maine's most prominent citizens. His postwar career included four terms as governor of Maine, a stint as president of Bowdoin College, numerous business enterprises, and perhaps most importantly, many years as a writer and lecturer on his Civil War experiences.

The correspondence included by editor Jeremiah Goulka covers nearly every aspect of Chamberlain's personal and professional life. Chamberlain's heartfelt letters to his family, especially those to his wife Fannie, reveal him to be a loving, thoughtful husband and father. His relationship with Fannie, stormy and difficult though it was for many years, survived numerous crises until Fannie's death in 1905.

Chamberlain's Civil War experiences transformed him, and his separation from the army often left him feeling restless. In 1870, Chamberlain wrote to the King of Prussia and offered his services in Prussia's war with France. In 1898, Chamberlain contacted the Secretary of War to volunteer for the Spanish-American War. Even with all his postwar positions and projects, Chamberlain never quite filled the space in his soul left empty by the end of the Civil War.

Critics of Chamberlain, in his lifetime and in our own time, claim that he inflated his role at Little Round Top in an attempt to horde the glory of that important engagement. At least one letter included in this volume refutes this criticism.
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It was very well written. And a great story. Love Maine history. Would highly recommend this book to someone who loves history.
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