[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-War]: Prushankin on Reardon and Vossler, 'A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People'
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From: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Sun, Nov 27, 2016 at 10:37 AM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]: Prushankin on Reardon and Vossler, 'A Field
Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History,
Places, and People'
To: H-REVIEW at h-net.msu.edu
Carol Reardon, Tom Vossler. A Field Guide to Gettysburg:
Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People.
Chapel Hill University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
Illustrations, maps. 464 pp. $22.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8078-3525-8.
Reviewed by Jeffery S. Prushankin (Millersville University of
Published on H-War (November, 2016)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey
According to recent estimates, there are over sixty-five thousand
books written about Gettysburg, with subjects ranging from the memory
of Pickett's Charge to the menu at General Pickett's Buffet. None of
these books accomplish what Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler have
achieved with _A Field Guild to Gettysburg: Experiencing the
Battlefield through Its Historical Places and People_. As its title
indicates, the book allows the reader to reconstruct, interpret, and
essentially understand the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of
those who fought. Although _A Field Guide to Gettysburg_ generally
follows the Park Service auto tour, there are several additional
opportunities that make this anything but a standard excursion.
The book is divided into three main sections, one for each day of the
battle, and each section is subdivided into chapters that follow that
day's events. Each chapter is broken into subsections that correspond
with one of thirty-five tour stops. Tour stops begin with an
orientation that allows the reader to pinpoint the location on one of
the corresponding forty-seven maps and to begin to understand the
significance of the battlefield itself as a primary source.
Next, the authors ask "What Happened Here?" and provide a few
paragraphs of powerful prose describing events that took place at
that location. The authors often use the words of soldiers, from
officers to enlisted men, to develop the narrative and accordingly,
put the reader into the action. The clearly drawn maps depict troop
movements, some down to the company level, facilitating an
understanding of the battle from the soldier's point of view. To
further explore the action from this perspective, Reardon and Vossler
then ask "Who Fought Here?" and "Who Commanded Here?" These areas of
investigation describe the troops engaged as well as the
personalities involved. All of this makes the following heading "Who
Fell Here?" that much more powerful. The use of individual vignettes
helps illustrate that each number in a casualty report was an
individual, a real human being, not merely a statistic or a name in a
history book tucked away on some dusty bookshelf. Indeed, the authors
often examine the impact of death upon a soldier's family, thus
personalizing the battlefield. For several tour stops, the authors
include the heading "Who Lived Here?" that considers the civilians of
Gettysburg whose lives were disrupted and in some cases destroyed by
the carnage of battle and its lingering aftermath. The study of each
tour stop concludes with the heading "What Did They Say about It
Later?" offering the reader a consideration of how Gettysburg began
its evolution in historical memory.
It is not uncommon to see visitors to Gettysburg traipsing across the
battlefield with the Official Records in one hand, a map in the
other, and a backpack loaded with the complete works of Harry Pfanz.
To a great extent, _A Field Guide_ _to Gettysburg_ eliminates the
need to carry that weight. Reardon and Vossler have provided an
instant classic in a single volume that is both eminently readable
and exceptionally useable, ideal for those participating in staff
rides, educational tours, or a self-guided exploration of the
battlefield. Even if one lives nowhere near the battlefield, _A Field
Guide to Gettysburg_ is a perfect companion book to supplement
traditional Gettysburg monographs.
Citation: Jeffery S. Prushankin. Review of Reardon, Carol; Vossler,
Tom, _A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield
through Its History, Places, and People_. H-War, H-Net Reviews.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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