Gettysburg, by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen
This book is set during the US Civil War, specifically in the last days of June and first days of July, 1863. It is about the officers and how they interact. The men of both sides were well acquainted with each other, and in many cases, had served with one or more of the leaders on the other side. Even the individual solders would face friends, and sometimes relatives across the battlefield.
Both authors hold PhD.s in history, William Forstchen has authored numerous books of historical fiction and science fiction. The authors hold the position that history can best be understood by examining alternatives to what happened in history, looking at the events and the people to hypothesize what might have been. This book examines what would have happened if Robert E. Lee had taken a different tactic at Gettysburg.
The book is primarily told in dialog form. In this manner, we get to know the generals on a personal level. We get a feel for how they think and how they interact with each other, and with their enemies.
Gettysburg goes further to give a feel for battle of the era. We see the effects of the fog of war, and the difficulty of decisions when mens’ lives are on the line. And we are made to feel the guilt at sending men to their deaths. The battles are described in a bit too much detail for my taste. It is gruesome and bloody and seems futile at times. The authors describe the weapons, primarily the rifles used and cannons, and their affects on the troops, both as individuals and as formations.
Gettysburg provides a few photos and images of maps throughout the book that I felt the photos were very well selected. These appear to be prints from daguerreotypes, mostly of men, in formation or relaxed. Some images are of the dead, on the field or lined for identification or burial. There are also a few maps. These images are not bloody, and fairly benign. Although they do not directly relate to the story, they do set the stage for it, and I felt these pictures did add a lot. I do wish there were captions explaining a bit of what I was looking at.
I did enjoy this book ,and feel that anyone with a casual interest in the US Civil War will enjoy it, too.