Definitely one of my favorite books about the Civil War. It's main premise is a historical point of departure. However, it's analysis of what DID happen and of what WOULD likely happen with one change of decision is masterful. It's a great read and great history.
I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand it is well written, fast paced, with good characterizations of the generals and dialogue based on historical behavior, graphic and gripping battle descriptions that had my hair on end. It focusses on well known personalities such as Hunt, Chamberline and Armistead so. But as the book progressed I found myself not wanting to read on as the novel more and more digressed from reality. Part of this is due to my northern leanings, my dislike of Newt and what he stands for, and the idea that he and his ilk could have prevailed -- evil over good. But part of me rebelled at how the rebels make all the correct moves and have all the good luck, while the yankees make all the wrong moves and have all the bad luck. As a civil war buff with passable knowledge of the Gettysburg campaign, the authors' premises -- a more involved Lee, taking Longstreet's advice not to attack, and executing flanking marches ala 2nd Manassas and Chancellorsville -- are very plausible. But then everything goes right. Even Lee's few missteps such as Ewell's failure to attack on the left flank on July 4, has no detrimental effect because Lee takes personal charge late in the day and prevails. I doubt whether this outcome was likely or even possible, and became furious as I watched the alternate historians seemingly rewrite history to minimize all of Lee's problems and maximize Meade's. I suspect that this is the history that Newt and many others wish had happened, and I, the reader, am powerless to stop them. They obviously idolize Lee and Longsteet (how many times does Lee say this in the book about his men?). I do recommend this book to Civil War history buffs. Those with limited knowledge of the actual campaign and the personalities will probably find little to engage them. The author's play off Lee's historical complacency and indecision but gives far too little credit to the union commanders. For want of horse . . .
Yes, it's active history, which is fiction. However, this book was phenomenal! And, let's not overlook the forward in which Newt explains the theory of active history, which is to prompt us to think about historical events in a way that is much more interesting than just names and dates. And, Tom Stechshulte is great, too!
I enjoy primarily historical non fiction
In order to make the amount of time spent on this book worthwhile you not only have to believe that Lee finally listened to Longstreet and that Dan Sickles always had the right answer while others like Mead and his "professional staff", including Hancock were lost in a mental fog. I find it interesting that the authors ascribe to Sickles a politician who in fact messed up in the real battle this insight.
In my opinion there is nothing to be learned from this work other than what we already know which is that the Civil War and particularly Gettysburg were a terrible waste of lives--tipping the scale toward the confederacy doesn't make it any better in that regard.
I will stick with the reality of history where the Northern Generals made the right moves during the battle and Lee let his passion for victory at all cost run away with him.
The narration was excellent therefore the two stars.
Listening to this is feeling the grief, horror, sympathy, fear, pain, anger, love and doubt of both sides. It is not a story of just war but a story of our country torn by deep beliefs and pain while at the same time mutually admiring the "enemy person". The " real enemy" in this story is not people but "failure to listen and really hear each side of the argument" before killing one another. The " real enemy" is letting pride get in the way for finding a way to compromise without compromising each other.
This "enemy" is stil alive and well. Every person- especially every politician should read this book and really listen. We must remember that we do not all have to agree. We can live in differance.
Well it took me the loss of a credit and time to understand that this was not meant to be a historically accurate account of the battle of Gettysburg. Although the story is well written and the narrator just fine, I am not one who is "bored" by factual accounts of history. This seemed to be one of Gingrich's motivations to change the battle fields and ending, by injecting a "what if" scenario in its place. The irony is that he did not need to do any of this, as Michael Shaara's "Killer Angels" proves. A disappointment for me as I was looking, and thought I had found, another excellent Civil War book by a reputable historian.