These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory

These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory

by Thomas A. Desjardin
     
 

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Ever since the guns of Gettysburg fell silent, and Lincoln delivered his famous two-minute speech four months after the battle, the story of this three-day conflict has become an American legend. We remember Gettysburg as, perhaps, the biggest, bloodiest, and most important battle ever fought-the defining conflict in American history. But how much truth is behind the…  See more details below

Overview

Ever since the guns of Gettysburg fell silent, and Lincoln delivered his famous two-minute speech four months after the battle, the story of this three-day conflict has become an American legend. We remember Gettysburg as, perhaps, the biggest, bloodiest, and most important battle ever fought-the defining conflict in American history. But how much truth is behind the legend? In These Honored Dead, Thomas A. Desjardin, a prominent Civil War historian and a perceptive cultural observer, demonstrates how flawed our knowledge of this enormous event has become, and why. He examines how Americans, for seven score years, have shaped, used, altered, and sanctified our national memory, fashioning the story of Gettysburg as a reflection of, and testimony to, our culture and our nation.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For many Americans, the name Gettysburg conjures up images of the greatest battle ever fought on American soil, where the country's fate was ultimately decided. A former archivist and historian at Gettysburg himself, Desjardin explores the building of this legend and explains that many of the battle's stories are in fact myths perpetuated for political, social, and often egotistical reasons. Examples include the battle's origins (not the result of large stockpiles of shoes), the importance of the last day of fighting (in many ways, Day 2 was more pivotal), and the demonizing of Longstreet because of the delayed "dawn attack" of July 2 (there is no evidence that Lee actually ordered a dawn attack). He also examines the major players who have shaped our perception of the war. The book is well researched and enjoyable to read, although some significant legends are only briefly explored (e.g., Ewell's decision to stop fighting on the night of July 1). Sure to be controversial among Civil War buffs, this work is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306813825
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,050,781
Product dimensions:
0.65(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas A. Desjardin holds a Ph.D. in American History and has been an archivist and historian for the National Park Service at Gettysburg. He is currently Historic Site Specialist for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and is a frequent television commentator on Civil War topics.

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