STEPHEN W. SEARS is the author of many award-winning books on the Civil War, including Gettysburg and Landscape Turned Red. A former editor at American Heritage, he lives in Connecticut.
Civil War scholar Sears follows up Chancellorsville and other war studies with a deliberate, perceptive assessment of the battle of Gettysburg and the events leading up to it. The book's strength is the consistent and striking characterizations of the many generals and commanding officers involved in the battle. Sears cohesively takes stock of their infighting and ambitions as well as their dedication and risk taking, clearly showing how the varied personalities shaped decisions made by both armies, for better or for worse. Drawn from dispatches and diaries, colorful quotes from the officers contrast vividly with meticulous details of the battle's terrain and statistics. Sears examines several turning points during the battle's buildup and three-day duration. The resulting insights add to the excellent and dramatic narrative flow. Though similar in style and format to Noah Andre Trudeau's Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, this work is ultimately more focused on the high command and includes artwork and photographs of the battle as well as portraits of the key players. For all Civil War collections and academic libraries.-Elizabeth Morris, formerly with Otsego Dist. P.L., MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
An outstanding battle study...This book...is absolutely indispensable for the well-versed. Publishers Weekly
A fine study, detailed and challenging, that complements such popular accounts of the battle as Bruce Catton's Glory Road and Shelby Foote's The Stars in Their Courses. Kirkus Reviews The book's strength is the consistent and striking characterizations of the many generals and commanding officers involved in the battle. Library Journal Readers thrilled by the minute details of battlefield maneuvers will be thoroughly engaged. Booklist, ALA Sears does much more than reconstruct events. He gives battlefield maneuvers deeper meaning and purpose because of his deep appreciation for context and the human dimension of history. --Peter Carmichael, American History Magazine [Sears gives] us a panoramic view, and in his vivid portrayal the day unfolds in all its horrible detail. --Jay Winik The New York Times Book Review A first-class writer and splendid historian--a combination to be cherished--gives us the best book on America's most famous battle. The Wall Street Journal
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. (June 30) Forecast: A summer display in time for the battle's 140th anniversary on July 4, 5 and 6 could draw on James McPherson's Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg (Forecasts, date TK) and Robert Clasby's illustrated Gettysburg: You Are There (Forecasts, Mar. 3), along with this book from former American Heritage editor Sears. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.