Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields

Published By: Ballantine Books

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Travel

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Reviewed by Jeff Foster

Subtitle: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground

In his latest book Jeff Shaara, well known for previous Civil War works, takes you on a journey through ten of the key battles that took place during the Civil War era, between 1861 and 1865.

The book is mostly a historical reference to these battles, but also recounts Shaara's recent visits to the individual sites. In chronological order you are taken to: Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania, New Market, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.

Each chapter begins with the battle itself. You are given the background, circumstances and conditions that led the opposing forces onto the ground in which the battle was fought. If you want to know what the mitigating forces behind the battles were, the land, or the ground, as generals of the era called it, always, always, played a key role.

This of course is the encapsulated version of events that took place at these now-hallowed sites, but you get the feel and the intensity with which each of the battles was fought.

Following each battle, Shaara explains why that battle was significant and even goes to some length to extrapolate out what might have happened had the battle been fought slightly differently, had one regiment arrived on the field thirty minutes sooner (A.P. Hill at Antietam), had a General only taken precautions of a cavalry screen (Hooker at Chancellorsville), had forces been able to be combined (Johnston and Pemberton at Vicksburg) what might have happened.

Then you are treated to Shaara's "what to look for" section that details what you will see at each location. This presents some interesting and not-so-often landmarks that infrequently, if ever, are pointed out on the canned walking or driving tours of these massive national parks.

The book is filled with excellent battle maps, photos taken shortly after the battles and those from Shaara's recent visits.

Armchair Interviews says: If you, or anyone you know, are planning on visiting any of these national parks, this book should be safely stowed in your backpack as you walk through history.

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