Two mighty armies blunder toward each other, one led by confident, beloved Robert E. Lee and the other by dour George Meade. They’ll meet in a Pennsylvania crossroads town where no one planned to fight. In this sweeping, savagely realistic novel, the greatest battle ever fought on American soil explodes into life at Gettysburg. As generals squabble, staffs err. Tragedy unfolds for immigrants in blue and barefoot Rebels alike. The fate of the nation will be decided in a few square miles of fields. There are no marble statues here, only men of flesh and blood, imperfect and courageous. Following a tough Confederate sergeant from the Blue Ridge, a bitter Irish survivor of the Great Famine, a German political refugee, and gun crews in blue and gray, Cain at Gettysburg, from New York Times best-selling author and former U.S. Army officer Ralph Peters, is bound to become a classic of men at war.
©2012 Ralph Peters. All rights reserved. (P)2012 AudioGo
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The Battle of Gettysburg was a monumental struggle between The Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by the brilliant Robert E. Lee and The Army of the Potomac, newly under the command of George Meade. Anyone remotely familiar knows the story. This battle ended the South's chances at victory while invigorating and giving hope the Federal cause. The battle also caused 51,112 (23,049 Union and 28,063 Confederate) casualties, out of approximately 157,000 soldiers involved in the fighting. But this retelling is much more than a recitation of facts. Author Ralph Peters says, in the author's notes, "A novel about Gettysburg for our time must demonstrate war???s horror and appeal, while depicting the complex humanity of those who shoulder rifles or lead armies." And this book does just that. Peter's has stripped away the normal romanticism associated with the Battle of Gettysburg by showing events from the viewpoints of many historical characters. The flaws of these men shine like the sun. Even Robert E. Lee's vanity, which appears to be the main reason his army lost, is out in the open. Peter's also gives us numerous fictional characters that will be difficult to forget. One character is a brave and homicidal maniac who recalls past murders and rapes while taking great pleasure in the brutality of war.
Besides putting the listener inside the minds of the books characters, Peters also imparts a sense of the ebb and flow of the battle. One moment the boys in Grey are proud, eager and arrogant. Then, in the flash and roar of a cannon, they are so much red mist. Events and emotions swing just as wildly for Billy Yank. After more than two years of defeat the Federals suddenly go from despondency and resignation to utter disbelief at having defeated Bobby Lee.
Peter Berkrot does and outstanding job of giving voice the large number of characters. I enjoyed his narration very much.
Grab this one folks and strap yourself in. You are in for a wild ride.
The best parts of this book are the characters, the history, and the horrors of combat.
I am writing mainly to compare this book with that other great novel of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels. Angels was about gentlemen at war who acted, however mistakenly, nobly. There are moments of nobility here but the veneer is stripped from the characters to reveal the blood and guts of the sacrifices at Gettysburg. This is true partly because several (presumably) fictional characters are enlisted men whose view of the battle is from either side of the bayonet. It is also true because the noble Robert E. Lee is presented, as are all of the major characters, as far from the embodiment of a noble warrior but rather as a complex human being with many human failings hidden behind a mask of command. Similarly the tragic Longstreet who nobly suffers the injustice of having to lead the two tragic, doomed attacks despite having foreseen their tragic consequences, is presented far less favorably than he is in Angels. All of the characters are fully formed and we are treated to their inner most thoughts although those thoughts, like our own, are more frequently ridiculous than sublime. If I were to wax literary I might compare the presentation of the inner lives of the characters to Tolstoy's War and Peace although such an opinion would get me laughed out of the literary department at Snooty University. Well, that plus this is rather War and More War than War and Peace. Be that as it may I do not see this book as a competitor to Angels but I see these two books as informing each other. Much as two witnesses to the same bar fight might testify in entirely different manners each telling the truth to the best of their perception and recollection, here we have two views one rather a romance of the high command and another through the gun sights of the footsore infantry and the powder blackened artilleryman.
The narrator is very good particularly noticeable as his dialect changes from Irish ruffian to North Carolinian mountain folk and to the English aristocrat.
If I had to choose a single character i guess i would go with George Meade, that snapping turtle victor whose laurels were snatched by the unscrupulous Daniel Sickles.
Peters has clearly done his research and it shows. A wonderfully written book, it sounds great via Peter Berkrot. I love this kind of history where everything comes to life! Definitely recommended!
I'd rate The Killer Angels above Cain at Gettysburg, but it's close. This account of the battle seen through the eyes of the antagonists didn't strike the same emotional chords for me as TKA, but it has more technical battle information and focuses on different characters and perspectives. A very good listen. I thought the performance was a little overwrought.
I feel that this story is so well done that it should satisfy listeners who are well-versed in the Battle of Gettysburg as well as neophytes. Peters' experience as a military officer comes through in the thoughts and language of the various characters portrayed. Unlike the Killer Angels, be prepared for some salty language, just as a real soldier would have spoken.
There are some particular aspects of this story that I think deserve recognition. One is portrayal of the German immigrants in the war as well as that of the Irish. These individuals made an invaluable contribution to the Union war effort, and the German immigrants in particular have been overlooked. Yet, they were in a foreign environment, often without an understanding of English, and sometimes discriminated against by "real" Americans.
I also applaud Peters for portraying George Meade as he ought to have been, a hero of Gettysburg for the Union and a highly-competent, sometimes brilliant commander. He defeated the Army of Northern Virginia by making the correct decisions at the right times. Although revisionism has now embraced Meade and restored his reputation, this story is a welcome addition to that better understanding of him.
In a similar vein, I very much appreciated the due diligence afforded to Henry Hunt's contribution to the victory by his highly professional and experienced use of the Union artillery.
I would have enjoyed the addition of the 3rd days' battle on the East Cavalry Field,, and the defense of Culp's Hill, but I understand that these are minor scenarios in the who of the battle and not every aspect can be addressed. Yet, I would like to hear Peters' creation of a voice for Kilpatrick, Custer, Pap Green, and others..
The narrator's voice is excellent, and I particularly enjoyed his accented voices such as the Irish brogue, the southern drawl, etc. However, I was still annoyed at the mispronunciation of certain proper names over and over. I cringed every time Harry Heth's name came up, and to a lesser extend, "Taneytown." Staunton was also mentioned once and became part of this annoyance. This is only a minor criticism, as I have found the same sort of mispronunciations in other audio books. But I did take a star away from the Performance rating (I wish I could have taken only half a star).
All in all, this story deserves a listen by anyone interested in the Civil War.
Maybe, depending on the subject. Not just for author or narrator.
Billy Cobb, excellent character portrayal with surprising underlying intellectual component.
Seemed a little too quick and over dramatic.
Not really. Too many already done.
Unless I missed it author almost entirely left out Picket's Charge. This is a book that definetely needs maps. Fortunately I was familiar with battlefield but still would be nice to have refresher on territory. Wish there was some way to get maps and photos that come with the printed or ebooks, along with the Audible version.
Absolutely. As a Civil War buff, I generally prefer true history books to historical fiction. That being said, I bought this book because of comparisons to Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels" - one of my all-time favorite books. Initially had troubles getting into this book because, in my mind, I found myself comparing it to "Angels". Once I stopped doing that, and just listened to it on its own merits, I came to appreciate it for the well-written book that it is. Ralph Peters' insights into the characters' personalities and personal stakes in the battle are well-presented and a thoroughly welcomed deviation from the sometimes dry presentation of the facts found in many s history book.
Lee's realization that his pride, bordering on arrogance, sentenced many a man to die needlessly.
Yes. Mr. Berkrot did an excellent job on this book. His occasional habit of slipping in and out of accent while portraying a character (particularly noticeable when portraying those with an Irish accent) was slightly distracting but, all in all, he did an excellent job.
Private Billy Cobb. It was nice to see "God's hideous excuse for a man" in contrast to the typically presented "gentleman soldier."
A historical fiction novel much like Shaara's Killer Angels, around the battle of Gettysburg. It concentrates on the people and conversations that might have occurred during the 3-day battle. It emphasizes Longstreet and Meade as well as some individuals in the trenches. Although nobody really knows the conversations that may have occurred, these are believable and one gets the idea of presence in the battle. I was especially impressed with the piece about Union general Dan Sickles, who counter to orders, caused the battles of the peach orchard and wheat field on the second day...by sheer obstinance and in search of glory. He spent the lives of his men for political capital.
I learned a lot.
I was about the common soldier and the Generals and higher ups.
James Longstreet, he knew the charge would fail, would like to talk with him more about that.
Once I started reading, the book was so interesting, I was reading every chance I had. Learned a lot about George Meade and gained a respect for him I did not have before. I consider this book the best I have read about the Battle.
We have all heard of the Civil War and Gettysburg, but I have never read any books on it. I enjoy watching and listening to Ralph Peters when he is on Fox News and most times agree with his philosphies. That is why I bought his book and I was not disappointed. Ralph is an excellent story teller. In no time at all I was caught up in the story and the characters (both fictional and non-fictional ones). He gave me insights into the war that would never have occured to me. I have never listened to the same book twice, but this is one that I will definitely turn on again.
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