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Gettysburg Paperback – November 3, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An outstanding battle study by the author of Chancellorsville, this comprehensive narrative will lend extra impact to the 140th anniversary this July of the climactic battle of the Civil War. Sears casts his net wide, beginning with Lee's meeting with Davis in May 1863, where he argued in favor of marching north, to take pressure off both Vicksburg and Confederate logistics. It ends with the battered Army of Northern Virginia re-crossing the Potomac some two months later, a near-run on both sides as Meade was finally unwilling to drive his equally battered Army of the Potomac into a desperate pursuit. In between is the balanced, clear and detailed story of how 60,000 men became casualties, and how the winning of Confederate independence on the battlefield was put forever out of reach. The author generally is spare with scapegoating, although he has little use for Union men Dan Sickles (who advanced against orders on the second day) or Oliver Howard (whose Corps broke and was routed on the first day), or Richard Ewell of the Confederacy, who decided not to take Culp's Hill on the first night, when that might have been decisive. Sears also strongly urges the view that Lee was not fully in control of his army on the march or in the battle, a view borne out in his gripping narrative of Pickett's Charge, which makes many aspects of that nightmare much clearer than they have been before. This book is not the place to start a study of the campaign, but it is absolutely indispensable for the well-versed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This authoritative history of the Battle of Gettysburg opens with a scene pertinent to what we imagine transpiring in the White House in recent weeks: a military-strategy planning session. In this case, the time was summer 1863, and the setting was Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital; putting their heads together were President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and the Confederate secretary of war. The Confederacy badly needed a victory because the stronghold at Vicksburg, Mississippi, was certain to fall to Union forces sometime soon. The plan that emerged from the session was to send the Army of Northern Virginia on an offensive across the Potomac River. The Confederate offensive abruptly failed, and Gettysburg represented the turning point of the war. Sears, author of a half-dozen Civil War books and a former editor of American Heritage magazine, leaves no stone unturned in his reconstruction of the battle, from preparation on both sides to the reasons for the Confederate loss. Readers thrilled by the minute details of battlefield maneuvers will be thoroughly engaged. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (November 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618485384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618485383
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David W. Nicholas on July 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There are two Civil War writers who concentrate on the Eastern Theater of the war, and are prominent enough to garner attention outside their field. One is Stephen W. Sears, the other is Noah Andre Trudeau. Sears has concentrated on the first half of the war, mostly writing about the campaigns of George McClellan, while Trudeau has worked in the last half of the war, making a name for himself as the best-known chronicler of Grant's Overland Campaign in 1864. Last year, Trudeau presented us with Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, a long and very good account of the battle and its consequences. It seems these two historians have met in the middle of the war, because we are now presented with Stephen W. Sears' simply titled Gettysburg.
Sears is a different writer than Trudeau, and he presents the battle in a different fashion, the book in a different manner. While Trudeau's book is long and dense (no illustrations, ca. 600 pages of text), Sears' book is considerably shorter, and more accessible. It has illustrations, either photographs of the participants or artwork done by participants or witnesses. Since they take up space on the page, and I would judge the font to be a point or two larger, my guess is this book is a good 25% shorter than Trudeau's. That makes it more accessible (as does the inclusion of illustrations, one shortcoming of Trudeau's book) and easier to read. It's not, however, a book for beginners.
Sears is of course interested in the battle and why it came out the way it did, not just recounting what happened during the fighting. He echoes many of Trudeau's judgements, differs with some others, but makes some of his own. Most of his verdict on the battle and the performance of the generals involved is nothing new to Civil War buffs, and won't make fans of R.E. Lee happy.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not exactly sure why every book on Gettysburg "has" to plow new ground in order to be accepted. Perhaps its because the grognards feel they have to read everything written about the battle and are disappointed if they don't learn something new. Not everyone wants, or needs, to delve into new research. New research, after all, can be flawed. Unless you follow Civil War scholarship through the peer review process, you may take as gospel something that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Sears' _Gettysburg_ doesn't have much in it that's new, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! Those of us who have studied the Civil War for some time tend to forget that every few years we _need_ an easy to read, single volume history of important battles that utilizes current research. _Gettysburg_ by Stephen Sears is such a book.
The first book I read about Gettysburg was _They Met at Gettysburg_ by Gen. Stackpole. It was a bit out of date even when I read it, and it was terribly slanted against certain historical figures, but at the same time it was engaging and very easy to read. That book started me on a 15 year discovery of the American Civil War. Reading _Gettysburg_, I was reminded of how I felt when I read Stackpole's book. I really wish that this book had been my first introduction to the battle. It may not be a must read for every Civil War enthusiast, and it is certainly _not_ as detailed as Pfanz or Hess' books (nor is it meant to be) but it's definitely an important contribution to the field. Someone coming at Gettysburg for the first time could do _much_ worse than this volume.
The book begins where _Chancellorsville_ leaves off, with Sears showing the opening moves of Lee and Hooker.
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Format: Hardcover
The Civil War, particularly the Battle of Gettysburg, retains its hold on the imagination of Americans. We seek to understand our country by studying the events of these terrible but formative years. The Civil War did indeed lead to a "new birth of freedom" in the United States. We still struggle to understand and to develop the implications of this "new birth".
Stephen Sears is a distinguished military historian of the Civil War who has written in this book an outstanding account of the pivotal battle of Gettysburg (July 1 -- July 3, 1863). This battle ended the Confederacy's second invasion of the Union (the first invasion ended with the Battle of Antietam in September, 1862). Coupled with the Confederacy's surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4, 1863, Gettysburg ended the South's ability to wage an offensive war and probaby ended as well its chance of winning the war.
Sears gives a full account of the battle and of the events leading to Lee's second invasion of the North, beginning with Lee's victory over the Union Army at Chancellorsville in May, 1863. Sears explains well how the invasion was linked to the impending Confederate loss at Vicksburg. General Lee put forward the invasion to Jefferson Davis as a calculated gamble and a means to counteract this loss.
The book offers detailed pictures of the march into Pennsylvania of the preludes to the Battle of Gettysburg, of the battle itself, and of Lee's subsequent retreat into Virginia.
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