Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review--So You Think You Know Antietam

Gindlesperger, James and Suzanne Gindlesperger. So You Think You Know Antietam? The Stories Behind America's Bloodiest Day. John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, NC. 2012. 234 pages, 199 pages of text. Color and B/W photos, maps, index, four appendices. ISBN 9780895875792, $19.95.

Coming off the success of their prior book with a similar name except dealing with Gettysburg (see my review here) it was only natural for husband and wife authors James and Suzanne Gindlesperger to create another highly readable and visually appealing book dealing with another great Civil War battle.

This time around they have chosen to tackle Antietam. On that September day in 1862 approximately 23,000 men were casualties with over 3,500 paying the ultimate price. Now the well preserved battlefield stands as a monument to these men no matter which side they were fighting for or what their reason for fighting was.

Part history, part travel log, part pictorial reference this is a book that should be on the library shelves of anybody interested in the battle of Antietam or any student of Civil War memory. While not a good introduction to the battle itself this is a great book for anybody travelling the main park service roads.

While this book can certainly be read on it's own (that's what I did) it's value would be on the battlefield and for those interested in the dozens of monuments that commemorate various people, places, brigades, and more.

The book is broken into ten chapters each covering a section of the battlefield. Each chapter begins with a brief outline and includes a Mapquest map helping travellers keep their bearings. For each battlefield marker included there is a photo as well as GPS coordinates. Modern photos are sometimes supplemented by historical photos and artwork. The text accompanying each stop on the tour describes the significance of the subject and often times points out information about the physical monument including dedication dates and artist information. The four appendices cover Robert E. Lee's "Special Order 191" or his lost order, orders of battle for both sides, and a listing of Medal of Honor winners associated with the battle. I would challenge almost anybody (licensed guides and park rangers don't count) to not learn something new from this book.

With beautiful photos and and interesting and highly readable text this is surely a book that will find it's way on to the shelves of many Civil War readers. Highly recommended!

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