I keep about 20 books on my bookshelf relating to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and the battle of Gettysburg, and I have easily read just as many more that I had to return to a library or lost along the way over the years.  This book, Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps is the BEST book I have EVER read about the Gettysburg campaign.  Here's why...

No offense to the professional historians who write books, but if you are just an interested reader of history like me, it is difficult to process and understand just what happened in days gone by by simply muddling through the typical history book... especially accounts of campaigns, battles and skirmishes. So many names, so many places, so many roads from one arcane place to the next. And too little account of the emotions and motivations behind the protagonists.... 

For Civil War buffs, the books of Michael Shaara and his son Jeff provided a window into the motivations and emotions of the Generals and warriors behind the events with their :historical novels" beginning with the Michael's publication in The Killer Angels which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975.  Through the use of the "historical novel" style and genre, he brought to life the generals and soldiers involved in the Gettysburg campaign.  

The book Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps is no less a breakthrough than Killer Angels.  Providing beautiful, colorful and easy-to-understand maps on every page, the Editors of Stackpole Books (and the apparent author, David Detweiler) provide a moment by moment description of the three-day battle. As you read the text, you can look back and forth at the maps, and truly understand just what happened.  

Not just a picture book, though.  The author's descriptions are well chosen, helping readers to separate the truly essential moments from the mass, and provide anecdotes as colorful in the emotional and psychological world as are the maps as analogs to the three dimensional realm of geography.

Note in my table to the right and above I have coded the book as a resource that will teach you in "Know That" fashion, essentials of strategy and operations that you can apply to your own battles and campaigns.  By truly understanding how and why decisions were made in this most famous of military campaigns, you can arm yourself with a "wisdom of the ages" useful in strategic matters of all sorts. 

Please write to me at markrho "at" mindspring.com with your comments and feedback.  ~ Mark




Understanding at the Strategic and Operational Levels