Gettysburg 1863: Campaign of Endless Echoes by Richard Wheeler

Gettysburg 1863: Campaign of Endless Echoes by Richard Wheeler
Publisher/Year: Plume, 1999
Format: Paperback
Pages: 302
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


It was a campaign waged from generals’ tents and presidential mansion–a battle fought by soldiers and civilians alike. Drawing on a lifetime of knowledge, Richard Wheeler, award-winning author of Witness to Gettysburg and Voices of the Civil War, combines authoritative research and authentic personal history to re-create the most pivotal episode of the Civil War.

Gettysburg 1863 follows General Robert E. Lee from the marshaling of his Confederate army in Virginia to his desperate last attempt against Union forces on Cemetery Ridge–the doomed and bloody Pickett’s Charge that gave the North a victory it scarcely knew it had won. It brings to life the ordinary men and women who played their part in turning the tide, from a seventy-year-old cobbler who put on his finest clothes and joined the defending Unionists to a wife who, disguised as a man, fell in battle beside her Confederate soldier husband. And there are the noncombatant citizens: the black Gettysburg residents in flight or in hiding, terrified of being captured into slavery; the woman killed by a stray bullet in her own kitchen–the battle’s only civilian fatality.

Illustrated with over a dozen maps and more than one hundred portraits and rare line drawings, Gettysburg 1863 offers a fresh and exciting look at one of the most significant events in American history.

What I thought

My first non-fiction read of 2021! And I really enjoyed it. As someone who has read extensively on this battle before, I didn’t learn anything new, but I did appreciate the narrative feel to this book. It made for easy reading, and I didn’t have to struggle with any dry, textbook style writing. And even though I might not have learned anything new, exactly, there were a number of interesting, moving, and even some funny anecdotes I hadn’t heard before. My sole complaint was that this desperately needed more and/or better maps of the actual battle. Other than that, I think this would make for an excellent read for a beginner to the Gettysburg campaign, and I think this holds value as a quick refresher for the more seasoned historian.

A Field Guide to Gettysburg by Carol Reardon & Tom Vossler

A Field Guide to Gettysburg by Carol Reardon & Tom Vossler
Publisher/Year: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 454
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


A Selection of the Military Book Club, Quality Paperback Book Club, and BOMC2 Online

In this lively guide to Gettysburg National Military Park, Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler invite readers to participate in a tour of this hallowed battlefield.


  • Expert advice for touring the battlefield
  • 35 tour stops, each offering a detailed account of events
  • Orientation to key landmarks at each stop
  • Essential visual cues to help you picture the battle as it unfolds around you
  • 47 illuminating maps
  • Numerous photographs–including newly available views of the battlefield

Ideal for carrying on your trip to the park and as a comprehensive resource for the armchair historian, this book includes enlightening maps and authoritative descriptions of the action that will place you right in the heart of the conflict. Crisp narratives introduce key figures and events, and eye-opening vignettes help readers more fully comprehend exactly what happened and why. A wide variety of contemporary and postwar sources offer colorful stories and present interesting interpretations that have shaped–or reshaped–our understanding of Gettysburg today.

What I thought

Here’s a book that’s a little outside of my normal reading to share with you all today. For those that don’t know, I adore learning about history, and one era that I’m particularly interested in is the American Civil War. Gettysburg is near and dear to my heart, and I’ve been a frequent visitor since childhood. All of this is to say that Gettysburg is a topic I’m very fond of reading about.

This field guide was an eager purchase for me when it first came out, and I’m very glad to have finally gotten around to reading it. For newbies to the battlefield and veterans alike, this field guide is an invaluable resource to bring with you on your visit. Each stop is presented in a clear, concise way with pictures, maps, and helpful driving directions.

While you might wish to pair this with a more in depth history of the battle to get the full understanding of each day’s events, this field guide will still give you a comprehensive overview of the battle’s events at the various locales. I’d say this would be an excellent tool to take with you on the field–whether as a jumping point for an intro into the battle’s history or as a more in-depth, in-person look at the battle.

I, for one, am now itching to get back to Gettysburg to take this guide with me on a tour of the battlefield. I like that my copy is lightweight but sturdy, too, so I can carry it with me. If you do decide to take this with you on your visit (and you should), I will say that it will probably take you a good couple of days to “work” through the guide, so just make sure to give yourself enough time.

All in all, this is an indispensable guide to Gettysburg, and I’m more than happy to add this to my collection on the topic. A must-read for fans of Gettysburg history!

A Young People’s History of the United States: Volume 1 – Columbus to the Spanish-American War by Howard Zinn


112592764370385.jpgA Young People’s History of the United States: Volume 1 – Columbus to the Spanish-American War by Howard Zinn (adapted by Rebecca Stefoff)
Publisher/Year: Seven Stories Press, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 212
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐




We all need heroes, people to admire, to see as examples of how human beings should live. But I prefer to see Bartolomé de Las Casas as a hero, for exposing Columbus’s violent behavior against the Indians he encountered in the Bahamas. I prefer to see the Cherokee Indians as heroes, for resisting their removal from the lands on which they lived. To me, it is Mark Twain who is a hero, because he denounced President Theodore Roosevelt after Roosevelt had praised an American general who had massacred hundreds of people in the Philippines. I consider Helen Keller a hero because she protested against President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send young Americans into the slaughterhouse of the First World War. 

My point of view, which is critical of war, racism, and economic injustice, carries over to the situation we face in the United States today. 

–from the Introduction

Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States is a retelling of U. S. history from the viewpoints of slaves, workers, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose histories are rarely included in books for young people. Volume One begins with a look at Christopher Columbus’s arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians and leads the reader through the protests against imperialism during the Spanish-American War.


What I thought

I am a history nerd, through and through. This small volume is a great read that I would very much recommend, if you are looking for an alternative viewpoint on U.S. history.

This book was adapted from Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States to make this history more accessible for younger readers. While I haven’t read Zinn’s original classic, I will attest to the fact that this book was easy to read and easy to comprehend. I would say this book is suitable for middle grade or high school readers. The history isn’t dumbed down, but rather it is simplified without expounding details to the umpteenth degree. The only thing I will say is that I wish there was more flow between chapters, but then again, I think that is just a consequence of condensing nearly 400 years of history into a 200-page book. I also think this book is sorely missing any citations of source material. Give young readers some credit–at least give them a bibliography!

As for the elephant in the room (Zinn’s bias), I won’t try to say it isn’t evident. I do think it is important to view history from various viewpoints, and Zinn’s is definitely an interesting one. This book would be a great teaching/learning tool for young historians, if approached with caution.

Overall, this little volume was an excellent summary of the beginning of U. S. history, told from an alternative view of the usual history textbooks. I would definitely recommend this to history lovers, young & old!