Customer Reviews for

Gettysburg

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Nice Campaign Study

Sears has written a balanced, single volume account of Gettysburg blending a dry narrative of the facts of the campaign with some thoughtful analysis. I enjoyed the book, but part of my enthusiasm was bolstered by a recent trip to Gettysburg where I viewed the battlegro...
Sears has written a balanced, single volume account of Gettysburg blending a dry narrative of the facts of the campaign with some thoughtful analysis. I enjoyed the book, but part of my enthusiasm was bolstered by a recent trip to Gettysburg where I viewed the battleground myself. Sears focuses on the high command of each of the opposing armies and the evolution of their decision making throughout the contest. His final analysis finds Robert E. Lee chiefly responsible for the South's failure to win the battle. Indeed, Sears is critical of Lee's decision to invade the North in the first place. As much as I am a Robert E. Lee fan, I have to admit that he did appear to suffer some unexplainable loss of good judgment at precisely the worse time. It was hard for me to stand on Seminary Ridge and stare across the .8 mile sloping battlefield that Lee ordered 13,000 soldiers to cross under enfilading enemy fire. Therefore, I agree with Sears that Lee made some bad decisions, but I do not believe he ordered a charge based on an ego battle with Longstreet. Lee ordered the charge because he thought it would be successful even against odds that his overconfidence allowed him to ignore. In the final analysis, I agree with Lee's decision to invade the North. Lee did not have the option of fighting a defensive war only, like George Washington did against the British. Lee's enemy was much stronger and growing ever stronger by the day. Also, Lee's enemy didn't have to cross an ocean to bring its industrial might to bear. So in the end, Lee had to do something audacious. Unfortunately for him Gettysburg just wasn't it!

posted by Anonymous on August 6, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Good, but not great history

Let me make this clear upfront: Sears wrote a good book about the battle of Gettysburg, it¿s just that Noah Trudeau¿s ¿Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage¿ is simply better. After reading Sears¿ version, you will come way with a full understanding of the campaign -- the r...
Let me make this clear upfront: Sears wrote a good book about the battle of Gettysburg, it¿s just that Noah Trudeau¿s ¿Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage¿ is simply better. After reading Sears¿ version, you will come way with a full understanding of the campaign -- the reasons for invading the north, the characters involved, the tactics involved, the aftermath and a detailed order of battle. In Trudeau¿s version, you get all this and more. Both books are easy and captivating reads, but Trudeau¿s version has more detail. For example, in describing the first day of the battle (July 1), Sears provides four maps Trudeau provides thirteen! Other examples are Trudeau¿s description of Iverson¿s failure, the famous 20th Maine and the separation of its Co. B, Biglelow¿s artillery stand at the Trostle farm which are all superior to Sears¿ version. Really, the number of examples are too numerous to list. One area that Sears¿ version is better is the inclusion of more photographs. Finally, Trudeau¿s version provides a closing ¿whatever happened to¿ section. You won¿t go wrong with Sears¿ book, but you¿ll do better with Trudeau¿s.

posted by Anonymous on September 3, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2008

    Good, but not great history

    Let me make this clear upfront: Sears wrote a good book about the battle of Gettysburg, it¿s just that Noah Trudeau¿s ¿Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage¿ is simply better. After reading Sears¿ version, you will come way with a full understanding of the campaign -- the reasons for invading the north, the characters involved, the tactics involved, the aftermath and a detailed order of battle. In Trudeau¿s version, you get all this and more. Both books are easy and captivating reads, but Trudeau¿s version has more detail. For example, in describing the first day of the battle (July 1), Sears provides four maps Trudeau provides thirteen! Other examples are Trudeau¿s description of Iverson¿s failure, the famous 20th Maine and the separation of its Co. B, Biglelow¿s artillery stand at the Trostle farm which are all superior to Sears¿ version. Really, the number of examples are too numerous to list. One area that Sears¿ version is better is the inclusion of more photographs. Finally, Trudeau¿s version provides a closing ¿whatever happened to¿ section. You won¿t go wrong with Sears¿ book, but you¿ll do better with Trudeau¿s.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2005

    nice fiction, not history study

    Some people might read it and think it was a scholarly historical study. Oh My! A good historian points out where there is controversy and where he makes conjecture. Sears does neither. For example, his abysmal treatment of Howard and Sickles, considered to be the heroes who won the battle by Lincoln and contemporaries. Sure, Howard's Corps took it on the chin on the first day, but look what they were taking on. They retreated to Seminary Ridge and Howard got an effective communication (!!!) to Sickles for help. It is difficult to fault Sickles' decision to abandon his post and march to help Howard, but Sears seems to do so. Then, there was the peachtree orchard in front of Sickles' line on the second day. A study of Wellington's campaigns would suggest that Sickles' move forward to the orchard creating a bulge in the Union line was a Wellingtonesque motion.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2004

    Nice Campaign Study

    Sears has written a balanced, single volume account of Gettysburg blending a dry narrative of the facts of the campaign with some thoughtful analysis. I enjoyed the book, but part of my enthusiasm was bolstered by a recent trip to Gettysburg where I viewed the battleground myself. Sears focuses on the high command of each of the opposing armies and the evolution of their decision making throughout the contest. His final analysis finds Robert E. Lee chiefly responsible for the South's failure to win the battle. Indeed, Sears is critical of Lee's decision to invade the North in the first place. As much as I am a Robert E. Lee fan, I have to admit that he did appear to suffer some unexplainable loss of good judgment at precisely the worse time. It was hard for me to stand on Seminary Ridge and stare across the .8 mile sloping battlefield that Lee ordered 13,000 soldiers to cross under enfilading enemy fire. Therefore, I agree with Sears that Lee made some bad decisions, but I do not believe he ordered a charge based on an ego battle with Longstreet. Lee ordered the charge because he thought it would be successful even against odds that his overconfidence allowed him to ignore. In the final analysis, I agree with Lee's decision to invade the North. Lee did not have the option of fighting a defensive war only, like George Washington did against the British. Lee's enemy was much stronger and growing ever stronger by the day. Also, Lee's enemy didn't have to cross an ocean to bring its industrial might to bear. So in the end, Lee had to do something audacious. Unfortunately for him Gettysburg just wasn't it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2003

    Buy this book!

    An engaging book on the bloodiest battle of the bloodiest war in American history. Sears's quick-paced writing makes for good reading and you'll fly through chapter after chapter before you know it! Buy it know!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Good account of battle of gettysburg

    Very detailed account of battle Gettysburg but it read more like a text book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2015

    Gave me much better appreciation of the battlefield and the character of the players.

    Having seen the movie, walked the battlefield several times, the detailed account of the players, their backgrounds and the role fate played in many of the events that shaped the outcome my next trip to the battlefield will be much more enjoyable. If you have the patience to wade through the very detailed history of the key players, the explanation of how the battle unfolded is well worth the wait. The inlusion of excerpts from contemporaneous correspondence of soldiers, officers and general staff gives some insights on the influences and state of mind of the decision makers.

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  • Posted April 13, 2013

    Makes you an expert

    I took a guided tour of Gettysburg the day I finished the book. It was like I was having my own conversation with the guide. Sears is the Civil War Expert

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Excellent

    A great read on the famous battle. Full of facts and anecdotes and still written in an engaging way so as not to be dry and boring.

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  • Posted May 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I really did not think anything new could be written about the b

    I really did not think anything new could be written about the battle of Gettysburg. A few months ago I obtained a copy of Under a Northern Sky by Steven Woodworth and was surprised to find a fresh viewpoint in a compact form. A couple weeks ago I found a copy of Sears’ Gettysburg at a thrift shop. I am impressed by the account he has written. Gettysburg details the campaign from beginning to end. Sears explains both Lee’s decision to invade Pennsylvania and the Union command crisis and then follows the armies into the battle. He details both the horrors of the battle and the decisions of commanders from army to regiment level that contributed to victory and defeat. His chapters on Pickett’s charge are especially vivid, taking you inside the maelstrom. The definitive book on Gettysburg will never be written but both Sears and Woodworth have come close. Many years ago I read Sears’ book Landscape Turned Red about Antietam and thought it was a merely a rehash of Bruce Catton. Maybe I was wrong. I am thinking of revisiting it and reading some of his other Civil War books.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great book

    Geettysburg was fought from S. He discuses why the Confederated leaders decided to invade the North the decision that affteected the outcome of the campaign and why they were made. Sears discusses every aspect of the battle in vivid prose . TYhe treasder is transported back in time to those eventual days and is left with a greater understanding of that era. I think this is an excellent introduction to those three days in 1863 that decided the fate of a nation.

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  • Posted August 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Storyteller of Gettysburg

    Gettyssburg by Steven Sears, is a great book to read wether you are new to Gettysburg or a seasoned fan. The style of the book is easy to read and flows with the effect of a storyteller. It joins the line of those that have suggested that General Ewell lost the battle on the first day. Highlights are the dramatic second day that builds to a crecendo with Hill's attack breaking through temporaly in the evening as the days fighting comes to a dramatic end. It also works well as a guide if you go to the park in person. You can line up the places that go with the dramatic narrative. But one thing he does not seem to question or answer is the conduct of General Reynolds on the first day prior to his death and why he was killed. If you are into military and leadership qualities this is not the book for you. Overall, I recommed it for it's storytelling style.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a great book

    this is my fave book on gettysburg.only pfanz is on par with sears on gettysburg in my opinon.a great read

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  • Posted July 8, 2009

    Sound Research

    Sears has done a great job. Meticulous research. This is a great book for true civil war buffs.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2003

    History and Drama Combined Authoritatively

    Written in the author's consistently clear and accessible style, and supported by years of research, Stephen W. Sears's Gettysburg is both an authoritative work of impressive scholarship that will appeal to academics and a dramatic story that will fascinate Civil War buffs. The author of six award-winning books on the Civil War--including George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon; Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam; To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign; and Chancellorsville, Stephen W. Sears is one of the best Civil War historian writing today. Fought in and around a sleepy Pennsylvania town, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) was the 'granddaddy' of Civil War battles--the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. On those three hellish days, two contending armies--the (Confederate) Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee, and the (Union) Army of the Potomac, led by Gen. George Gordon Meade--suffered 45,438 casualties. During the six-week Pennsylvania campaign their joint losses came to more than 57,000, including some 9,600 dead. Prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, 'Johnny Reb' had twice defeated 'Billy Yank'--at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Nevertheless, the outlook for the Confederacy was grim. In a war of attrition, the advantage of the Union in superior manpower and materiel meant that the South would slowly be squeezed to death by superior forces. Sears points out that Lee faced a Hobson's choice (an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative). He could remain on the defensive and face slow strangulation or he could seize the initiative ('We should assume the aggressive,' Lee had written to Confederate President Jefferson Davis) and roll the die in a desperate gamble--the invasion of the North. The two armies blundered into each other at Gettysburg, a battlefield on which neither general had wanted to fight. The desperate charge made by Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble on Day Three of Gettysburg marked 'the high-water mark of the Confederacy.' 'In command and capability,' writes Sears, 'indeed in offensive power, the Army of Northern Virginia would never recover.' In this outstanding battle study, Sears chronicles, in minute details, the events leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, an almost blow-by-blow description of battlefield maneuvers during the three days of action, and the aftermath of battle, as Lee's army took 'the long road back,' retreating into Virginia. It's all here: the battle for McPherson's Ridge, Seminary Ridge, and the clash in the streets of Gettysburg (Day One); the struggle for Culp's Hill (on the right flank of the Union Army) and the horrific encounters on the left flank of the Union Army, at the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, the Devil's Den, the Slaughter Pen, Rose Woods, the Valley of Death, Spangler's House, the Trostle House, and Little Round Top (Day Two); and the renewed attack on Culp's Hill and the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge, a massive assault on the center of the Union line (Day Three). 'Pickett's Charge,' as it is popularly known, was the greatest military blunder of Lee's otherwise brilliant career (except, perhaps, for his choosing to fight for the Confederacy after being offered command of the Union army). Lee's 'Old Warhorse,' Gen. James Longstreet, strongly disagreed with Lee and advocated instead an attempt to flank the Union's left flank. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we can see clearly that Longstreet was right and Lee was wrong. After his masterful documentation of this titanic struggle, Sears concludes, 'The fact of the matter is that George G. Meade, unexpectedly and against the odds, thoroughly outgeneraled Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.' Readers who approach the subject for the first time can, and perhaps should, resort to other more general accounts, but Civil War buffs looking for an authoritative, detailed a

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2003

    Typical Sears - EXCELLENT!

    As with everything else Stephen W. Sears has written, this book is excellent. It is the best one volume account of this battle I have read. I think his handlimg of the controversies around this battle are even-handed and his conclusions are well founded and well supported. The book is well written. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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