Gettysburg by Allen C. Guelzo
The Last Invasion

79%

7 Critic Reviews

...Gettysburg: The Last Invasion goes a long way to leveling the battlefield for all concerned, and makes for an invaluable addition to any American history reader's library.
-NPR

Synopsis

From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.

 

About Allen C. Guelzo

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Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America and Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, both winners of the Lincoln Prize. Guelzo's essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in publications ranging from The American Historical Review and The Wilson Quarterly to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal.
Author Residence: Gettysburg, PA
Author Hometown: Paoli, PA
 
Published May 14, 2013 by Vintage. 632 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Gettysburg
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by David W. Blight on Jun 28 2013

This book’s considerable achievements...are marred by Guelzo’s literary style, as well as by his apparently irresistible romantic urge to add one more panegyric to the epic of Gettysburg.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jun 03 2013

While the sheer length and level of required engagement with the text make it not for everyone, readers who are willing to dedicate the time to read it will find this book enriching and enlightening.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by THOMAS M. DONNELLY on May 31 2013

As befits a life-long Lincoln scholar, Mr. Guelzo concludes his story of the "last invasion" with an epilogue as elegantly succinct as the president's renowned address.

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WSJ online

Good
on May 14 2013

...an intimate and richly readable account of the battle, drawing the reader into the muck and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier.

Read Full Review of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Stu Seidel on Jul 02 2013

...Gettysburg: The Last Invasion goes a long way to leveling the battlefield for all concerned, and makes for an invaluable addition to any American history reader's library.

Read Full Review of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion | See more reviews from NPR

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 31 2013

Robust, memorable reading that will appeal to Civil War buffs, professional historians and general readers alike.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Michael Taube on Jun 13 2013

...it was an important military victory that changed a war as well as the face of a nation. The last invasion was, therefore, the first moment that American democracy shone brightly once more.

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Reader Rating for Gettysburg
82%

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