After two days of brutal combat, Confederate General Robert E. Lee is faced with an agonizing decision. He can either launch a frontal assault directly at the center of Union lines, or he can flank the Federals and attack from the rear. Choosing the second option, Lee sends his troops around the Union army, cutting them off from Washington, D.C. and their supplies. Staring at the face of disaster, the Federals are forced into a desperate fight to survive.
Gettysbury is a fascinating "what if?" novel that faithfully brings to life the major players in America's greatest battle and places them in an entirely plausible scenario. Through Tom Stechschulte's stirring narration, listeners will marvel at what could have been.
©2003 Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"Well-executed alternative history....The novel has a narrative drive and vigor that makes the climactic battle scene a real masterpiece of its kind." (Publishers Weekly)
I liked the book, I really did. But... Ok, here's the deal, I'm an old hand at wargaming, and I recognize when circumstances are changed to ensure an ending, and that is the case here. This isn't so much a "what if" novel as it is a "let's force a Lee victory since he is our favorite general of all time" story. Lee was one of the greats. I agree. But then the authors go on to make certain of the outcome. For example, Berdan's brigade of Sharpshooters was described as experienced, seasoned veterans. Yet they fell to pieces when their leader was wounded. None of the other officers thought that it would be a good idea to finish their mission which was to recon the enemy's strength. If they had it would have changed the course of this "What if" battle. Another instance, the only non-combatant in all of Pennsylvania (a Union state) who thought it would be important to alert the Federals of the Confederate move away from Gettysburg was a pre-teen that nobody in the Federal army would take seriously, except the guy who gets shot a minute later. On the other hand, the Confederates get a number of intelligence reports from adult males who they believe instantly. This in the border state of Maryland where no one knows anyone else's allegiance. The book would have been better written by a neutral party rather than a Lee worshiper.
This was an outstanding read, including Newt's introduction explaining the concept of "active history" versus fantasy. If you are not thoroughly familiar with the events surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg, I strongly recommend you first read Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels first. The Shaara and Gingrich stories make a wonderful combination when read in sequence!
I hesitated to by this alternate history novel since I am a Staunch Democrat and this novel wass by Newt Gingrich. Never really took him for the fiction kind of guy, but WOW! What a piece of work. Compelling, accurate, entertaining, vivid, couldn't put it down. Just bought Grant Goes East 5 minutes after I finished this one. DO NOT MISS IT.
Not usally so generous with the stars but I couldn't stoping listening to this novel.I am a big fan of alternate history and the what if concept. I hope that the Authors continue this line of thinking. This listen will grab you and take you in right from the start. Even if you are not a great reader of historical books the Authors make it interesting. I found myself wanting the outcome to be different and it does make you wonder what Lee was actually thinking so many years ago. Well I am off to get the next book and hope these Authors continue this type of work.
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 . . .
Fact and fiction are eerily matched and juxtaposed in an extremely plausible alternative to the paths actually taken by the two armies. A single spark of inspiration, in a single moment, is all that it takes to move history in a decisively different direction. All that follows that moment is quite plausible, even likely, given what is known of the personalities, fears and abilities of the generals involved.
I really enjoyed this book. The first 20 percent was true to history which was re-hashing what I already had studied, this made listening somewhat laborious but ... once the split was made and the fiction began, the book was really quite fascinating. I enjoyed it unil the end. The writing (and reading) were very descriptive which made following the different battle fronts very easy. This is not the case with many if the Civil War books that I have listened to. I recommend this title. Enjoy.
This was an interesting novel, and entertaining, but I had to keep suspending critical thoughts to really enjoy it. It's a "what if" scenario, based on tactics that the Army of Virginia had utilized in previous skirmishes, so you have to suspend criticism, because anything could have happened in this hypothetical daydream... life and death are sometimes a matter of inches and seconds in war. What I don't like is that the plot really is not all that creative, and I think that the battle scenes are dull. I think the character development and dialogue is the most creative aspect of the writing. The storyline is pretty focused, but I kept thinking about other alternative consequences and wished that the authors developed peripheral issues. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and I recommend it.
Political affiliations aside, Newt and William are on their A game with this tremendous "What If?" regarding the pivotal battle of Gettysburg. A simple small change of thought, and the war that rocked our nation to its core suddenly and dramatically leans in favor of the South. Any time a solid civil war era novel is written, it requires the author(s) to not only be steeped in the times and facts of that war, it also requires a completely different midst regarding the character development, motivation and reactions of the people of that time. It's all in the details, and these two authors provide that, along with their solid storytelling prose. Both authors bring together an engaging storyline, with experienced field warfare descriptions, both making for a wonderful listen.
As a huge fan of alternate history, this is a rare and exciting listen for ANY fan of history, be it alternate or actual. And on a final note, the other two audiobooks in this series are equally fantastic.
The authors ascribe "Active History" to their form of story telling. I think this book does an excellent job in re-telling the Gettyburg story and "what if?" They stick to the facts for most of the early part of the novel and enlighten us all on the problems of command without the advantages of good maps and tele/radio communications. Further, we learn about the massive logistical requirements of an Army in 1863. I believe this novel's outcome to be very plausible.
My only complaint is modest. I can believe Gen. Lee might be swayed to change his mind, but the authors also ask us to believe Gen. Longstreet, now that Jackson is dead, will force march like he has never done before. Maybe he would. However, the final battle takes place because Gen. Meade is neither able to control the Army of the Potomac nor receive Lincoln’s message to avoid the destruction of that army. We are pushing too many “what ifs” for my comfort. These seem to me to contradict the author's "Active History" philosophy.
These merely multiply in the second and third books of the trilogy.
But it’s a great read regardless.
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