July 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the greatest battle fought on American soil, so one can expect an avalanche of books, articles, and essays that “celebrate” an anniversary that should more properly be mourned. The photographs provided here are still striking, but most have been seen before. What gives this work power, intimacy, and poignancy is the collection of eyewitness accounts that proceed chronologically from the prelude to the three-day battle that altered the course of the Civil War. A British military observer describes Robert E. Lee in reverential terms, noting his dignity and the devotion of his soldiers. Lee himself writes a letter justifying his risky invasion of the North. A Union soldier speculates that Southern independence might be inevitable. Confederate General James Longstreet recalls his efforts to dissuade Lee from the frontal attack on the Union center. Finally, the climactic charge led by George Pickett is described from multiple perspectives. This is an excellent addition to Civil War collections. --Jay Freeman
About the Author
A former journalist, historian Rod Gragg is director of the Center for Military and Veterans Studies at Coastal Carolina University, where he also serves as an adjunct professor of history. His works have earned the Fletcher Pratt Award, the James I. Robertson Award and other honors, and have been selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club, the History Book Club and the Military History Book Club.