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Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg- The Campaigns That Changed the Civil War Hardcover – May 18, 2010
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Among Bearss’ many roles over decades of activity in the Civil War arena—as author, field excavator, and preservationist—is that of battlefield guide. His perambulating commentary was converted to print in Fields of Honor (2006), a tour of the 14 clashes between the Blue and Gray, and this sequel does the same for Bearss’ excursions to Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Set in the present tense, Bearss’ text plunges readers into the flow of unfolding events, from Confederate leaders pondering strategic options after Lee’s spectacular victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, to generals’ orders to their units, to soldiers North and South clashing in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Wounded in WWII, Bearss imparts the look and emotion of combat so that his reader can imagine, for example, Johnny Reb’s feelings as he steps off on Pickett’s Charge. Bearss’ presentation lacks only the author’s growl and quasi-mystical storytelling manner—but the audience will conjure those, too, as Bearss was one of the historian-stars of Ken Burns’ documentary The Civil War. For buffs, Bearss’ book hits the bull’s-eye. --Gilbert Taylor
"The wealth of detail, Bearss’ astute judgments and the flowing narrative combine to make Receding Tide an excellent and highly recommended book."—Civil War News
“Establishing a standard for literary excellence.” –Army magazine
"A smooth narrative of compelling force...Bearss’ experienced eye for human interest stories is evident throughout the book." –Civil War News
“For buffs, Bearss’ book hits the bull’s-eye.” –Booklist
“For more than half a century, prolific writer and battlefield historian Bearss has more than covered the Civil War…Here he tells the story of these two important battles…” –Book News
Top Customer Reviews
Other than books that give an overview of the Civil War, most books that explore the military conflict in depth focus on one campaign or the other. Thus, there are many books on the Gettysburg campaign and a smaller though still substantial number of books about Vicksburg. I have read many books about individual battles and about the Civil War, but Bearss' book taught me a good deal. He weaves together the stories of the three primary theaters of the war: the East in Virginia and Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vicksburg and the Mississippi River and shows their interrelationship. The narrative shifts back and forth among the different theaters and various points and helped me understand how they held together.Read more ›
The receding tide was, according to Bearss, a function of the double defeat of the Confederate States of America--the defeat at Gettysburg and the surrender at Vicksburg.
This book is characterized by great detail and deep knowledge by the author of these two campaigns. It was fun to follow the detailed discussions.
While the details regarding the run up to the battle at Gettysburg do not add great insights into our understanding of that battle, his discussion of the events between July 1 and July 3 give great insight into the combat there. He gives a sense of the specific events taking place (his discussion of Longstreet's attack on Day # 2 is concise but also filled with enough detail to make sense of events); he also gives insight into the larger strategic decisions made by Lee and Meade. Thus, one gets an "on the ground" view--but also a view from "30,000 feet." All without being drowned by detail.
Bearss' presentation of the stages of the Vicksburg campaign added a great deal to my understanding of events. He did a nice job of summarizing the "experiments" by Grant, although I'm not sure that I learned anything new. Then, a very lucid description of Grant's venture south, below the guns of Vicksburg. The coverage of the campaign after that is delightful.Read more ›
If the name Ed Bearss means nothing to you, then you're probably unfamiliar with Civil War history. He is a commanding presence, a legend in the world of history, a battlefield tour guide with a growl of a voice whose lectures have been likened to Homeric monologues. This book represents the splicing together of recorded tours given by Ed Bearss at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Unfortunately, Ed's popularity lends itself to hagiography. As such, subsequent historians have been loath to alter Ed's story in substantial ways.
As a result, I cannot recommend this book to serious students of the Vicksburg Campaign. Ed Bearss original work leans heavily on the Vicksburg National Military Park collection (an assortment of verbal history collected 50 years after the war) and on the O.R. Both of these sources have major gaps in the material, gaps which Ed is quick to fill with supposition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed my purchase. This book looks new and is more than I expected . It also arrived on time. Thank you.Published 4 months ago by Joel Morris
Having walked and studied both of these battlefields, I THOUGHT I was pretty well versed about these two battles. I found this book to be extremely detailed and interesting. Read morePublished 17 months ago by John McQuitty
A great read! Loved the sequencing of the timelines. I always enjoy Mr. Bearss works, always informative, and professionally done.Published 19 months ago by hodge
Enjoyed this Bearss book very much and would highly recommend it. He makes you feel like you're right there.Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
Bearss is an accomplished historian who writes well. He presents the factual details in a manner that manages to make mundane facts very interesting and human. Read morePublished on August 21, 2014 by GoPack
Mr. Bearss tells more of the story around the events at Gettysburg than I have read in one place before. Read morePublished on January 27, 2014 by Joseph C. Nelson