- Series: This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Bison Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080327100X
- ISBN-13: 978-0803271005
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide (This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields) Paperback – March 1, 2006
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On the down side, the lack of an index (at least in my previous edition) is simply dumbfounding! How can you possibly put together a book this size about the battle and neglect having an index? For my own personal use, I found this book especially helpful when reading it in parallel with other books about the battle. One of my pet peeves about the great majority of Civil War books is the poor quality and quantity of maps. Reading this guide in parallel with those books helps fill in that gap (to a certain degree at least) and brings greater clarity to the subject. The lack of an index makes using it in that capacity far more difficult than it should actually be. I have to ding it one star for that reason alone. It's a very poor editing decision!
Secondly, if you are a casual visitor to the battlefield then this book will be somewhat of a waste. It is much wordier than a field guide should be. If you are there for only one day, you cannot possibly read through this book while on the battlefield itself. If you have never been to Shiloh and expect to take this book with you to learn about the battle then you are in for a struggle. You will spend far more time reading than viewing the field. (Unless you take your spouse with you and they read while you look).
Conversely, if you live close enough to Shiloh and can make multiple trips to the field, then this book is gold! I live in Pennsylvania and can only visit Shiloh on very rare occasions. However, being a student of the war and this battle, I found this guide a helpful supplement to the other books I have read about Shiloh. I take this book with me to Shiloh and find it very useful. It certainly should not be a primary source however.
This is an excellent book to read before actually visiting the battlefield. Don't expect to educate yourself with this book while there. Do that before you go and then take this book with you.
As an addendum to this review I should also add that the text font is horribly small! I was reminded of this after leafing through my second copy that just arrived. If you have bad eyes for reading you will truly struggle with this book. It's not meant for old eyes. Stick with a Kindle version in that case.
I am a serious Civil War buff and I have a huge collection of books on the subject including several specifically on Shiloh. I am not a casual visitor to battlefields who is satisfied with just reading brochures and looking at monuments. I want to know what actually happened on a battlefield. That's what gives it all meaning. Without that knowledge, the battlefield is little more than a park. But this book is simply too detailed to be a useful field guide, in my opinion. It would be much more useful if it was edited down to include about 1/3 of the information that it contains.
I like to visit Shiloh every couple years and I bought this book because I am planning a trip to the battlefield next month. I was excited by the book's promise but disappointed in its execution. I spent a couple hours perusing it last night only to realize that it will not be very useful for my coming trip. It would be useful, however, for someone making multiple trips to Shiloh to take in parts of the battlefield on each trip.
Another problem I have with the book is that information about a particular stop often digresses so much that sometimes very little of it actually applies to the stop it supposedly covers. Action must be put into context to fully understand it, of course, but sometimes the context is all you get here. For example, at the Bloody Pond stop, not one single word is mentioned about what actually happened at Bloody Pond. Most history buffs already know what happened there and, if not, they can read the sign next to the pond, but it would be nice if the book actually mentioned something about the Bloody Pond at the Bloody Pond stop. On the other hand, many things happened in the area of the Bloody Pond and that certainly should be mentioned. But someone who knew nothing of the battle and who didn't read the sign would have no idea why it was even called the Bloody Pond from the information in the book. The scope of each stop should have been more limited. We all want information but a field guide with too much information is no longer a useful field guide. At some point, it is no longer a field guide and this is a book more than a field guide. I think the authors forgot that they were writing a field guide and simply got carried away.
The woodcuts in the book are very nice and many are from original photographs. However, I would have preferred the actual photographs of the officers. I suppose the woodcuts saved printing costs and they do have a special charm. Also, the battle scenes, of course, were not taken from actual photographs. Unfortunately, very few battlefield photographs were made in the western theaters, especially that early in the war and almost no "action" photographs were taken at all in the Civil War.
Oddly, the authors did not include an index in the book. That is a serious omission in a book of this type. If you want to find information on a specific topic or person quickly, you will have to search through the book to find it. Not good! All field guides should have an index!
Another minor criticism that I have with the book is that the text is very small. I'm fortunate to still have vision that is far better than 20/20 but I am at the age when I have to wear weak reading glasses. I suspect that many Civil War buffs are in the same boat. If so, make sure your glasses are strong enough.
What I would really like to see is an edited down version of this book. My wife, also a history buff, suggested that we do our own editing by highlighting important information. That shouldn't be necessary with a field guide. I will take it along on my next visit to Shiloh but I suspect that it won't get much use. I don't want to spend a day or two at Shiloh reading. I also want to see and experience the battlefield!
I would recommend that anyone planning a visit to Shiloh first read Larry J. Daniel's, Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War first. To get a more emotional sense of what the battle was like, also read Shelby Foote's, Shiloh. Then, when you visit Shiloh, take along William C. Davis's, The Battlefields of the Civil War. This is my single favorite book to take with me when visiting CW battlefields. It gives an excellent and clearly written overview of the battles and includes wonderful illustrations and maps. Another excellent publication to take along is The West Point Military History Series publication entitled, Atlas for the American Civil War. This is the what is actually studied by military students at West Point. However, it is just maps showing movement; there is no text but it's a great supplement to help understand a battle's development. Take along Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide too, if you have it. But don't spend your entire visit reading! Enjoy the experience. Try to sense what actually happened there and hear the echos of cannon. That's the greatest reward of visiting historic sites. Don't miss that by having your face buried in this book. Do most of your reading before you visit the battlefield.