Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Off Topic--CD Review Monster Ballads Xmas

Monster Ballads X-Mas. Razor & Tie, LLC. New York, NY, 2007.

Yeah, yeah, it's off topic by a long ways but it's my blog so what the heck. That and I love Christmas music so it seemed appropriate to me.

Coming of age in the 1980's allowed me to listen to some of the best in metal there has been. OK we're not talking Led Zeppelin or vintage Black Sabbath but the hair metal era was a great time for music. Long may it live on great compilations like this one.

Monster Ballads Xmas contains 15 mostly rocking tracks. As with any compilation of course some are better than others. This one has extremes on both ends. Some songs are great versions and there are a couple of clunkers thrown in as well.

For me this CD gets off to a great start with Skid Row doing a somewhat punk sounding version of Jingle Bells. It's not Sebastian Bach but this track gets the CD going in the right direction right from the start. Winger does a great version of the John Lennon classic Happy Christmas (War is Over). I really liked the mixing of acoustic and electric guitar on this track.

Twisted Sister join forces with Lita Ford and belt out a version of I'll Be Home for Christmas that grew on me after a few listenings. It wasn't my favorite at first but Dee and Lita show they can both sing. Good musicianship backing them here. Geoff Tate and Queensryche do an admirable version of White Christmas. It's good but it didn't give Tate the chance to let his voice soar like he can. He could give Josh Groban a run for his money on Oh Holy Night if you ask me! For pure rock 'n roll fun you can't miss Firehouse belting out Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. You'll bang your head! I think Brenda Lee would be proud of them.

Tom Keifer (from Cinderella) contributes a great blues version of Blue Christmas. This really shouldn't be too shocking for those who remember Cinderella. This may be one of the under appreciated tracks on this CD. Stryper obliges our craving for live music with a really very good version of Winter Wonderland. Sure it's kind of corny with the normal concert interaction between band and audience with Michael Sweet asking three times if the crowd was ready for Christmas. That's OK because it leads to his singing a really powerful version "Stryper style" as he puts it. Good guitar and drum work. The album closes out with Billy Idol who really is out of place here. He never would have been considered metal let alone hair metal. That said his original tune Christmas Love is surprisingly good and as he says "if everybody gives then everybody receives".

There were a couple of middle of the road tracks for me. Dokken does a serviceable job on Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I grew up with MTV so it's hard to beat Bruce Springsteen on this tune. While Nelson always seemed pretty corny the brothers did a pretty good job here with Jingle Bell Rock.

I really liked L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat when they were at their best. The Guns version of Run Rudolph Run didn't do it and the Trent Reznor/Marilyn Manson inspired version of Silent Night from Faster Pussycat left me a bit disappointed. I kept waiting for it to explode and it never did. Danger Danger and Enuff Z'Nuff both performed what appear to be original songs that I don't think we'll be hearing too much of in the future. Poor Jani Lane from Warrant though may have laid the biggest egg on this one though. I have yet to get through Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  My biggest non music complaint about this is the lack of liner notes. All you get is a song/band listing with song publisher information and in some cases what record label a band is on.

Despite these being Christmas themed songs the bands really did a fine job overall. While pretty well sticking to the original versions there was enough new and creative on these songs to satisfy. The guitar and drum work reminded me of how good some of these bands were musically and overall the vocals were strong.

If you were a hair metal fan in the 1980's you really should pick this CD up. It'll bring back some great memories. If you are having a Christmas party and want some great rock music playing in the background this could be your best bet. If nothing else it'll keep the guests guessing as to who the bands are.

Book Review--Stephen Recker's Rare Images of Antietam

Recker, Stephen. Rare Images of Antietam: And the Photographers Who Took Them. Another Software Miracle, LLC, Sharpsburg, MD. Index, bibliography, maps, b/w and color photos. 152 pages, 147 pages of text. ISBN 9780971548619, $29.95.

September 17, 1862 is a date that will likely stand forever as the most bloody day in American history. Approximately 23,000 Americans would be killed, wounded, or missing. Their memory stills haunts the Antietam National Battlefield today.

While the very early photos by Alexander Gardner have been well documented by William Frassanito in Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day as Recker admirably shows this was not the end of Antietam photography but rather the beginning.

Mr. Recker has put forth a monumental goal for himself: "...marks the beginning of my attempt to document, organize, and interpret, in a comprehensive fashion, the historical photographs associated with the Maryland Campaign of 1862, taken after Alexander Gardner & Co. left the field with their wagon-load of death-study negatives..."(page 6) I think readers will agree with me he has accomplished this goal and has laid the foundation for what I hope and anticipate will be many future volumes.

The book begins with a brief outline of the history of early photography at Antietam. From there the book is laid out into twelve battlefield locations. A period map at the front of the book will help readers gather their bearings as to where they are. The areas covered are: McClellans' Headquarters, Nicodemus Mills, the National Cemetery, East Woods, Bloody Cornfield, West Woods, Dunker Church, Mumma Cornfield, Bloody Lane, Samuel Piper Farm, Burnside Bridge, and the Final Attack location. Each location is shown by period photos from the authors collection or from repositories that he has found through his research. Where appropriate modern photos show the changes or similarities to over 100 years ago.

Many photographers work is covered here. Mr. Recker highlights the work of eleven photographers showing their work again with modern photos for comparison where appropriate. Photographers showcased include E. M. Recher (or Recker as occasionally found [author Mr. Recker and photographer Mr. Recher/Recker are not related]), David Bachrach, B.W.T. Phreaner, J.H. Wagoner, F.M. Yeager, W.H. Tipton, W.B. King, Levi Mumper, S.F. McFarland, J.G. McPherson (MacPherson), and E.M. Garrott.

Lest readers get the view this is strictly a coffee table type photography book there is considerable research that is included. In sections dealing with specific photographers Mr. Recker includes a goodly amount of biographical information much of which is taken from period sources. Mr. Recker has also made careful analysis of these photos in his research. A prime example comes from the Antietam National Cemetery. While comparing an 1866-67 stereoview of wooden headstone markers to contemporary photos Mr. Recker has proven that not all modern markers are likely to match up with the original burial locations. (page 35).  It is attention to detail like this that makes this book a must "READ" as well as a must "VIEW".

The photographs included are beautiful to look at. The cover image will no doubt draw the casual reader in but once hooked I would challenge a reader to put this volume down. This is a book that should be on the shelves of any student of Antietam and the Civil War in general or anybody with an interest in Civil War photography.

I highly recommend a visit to the Virtual Antietam website that Mr. Recker runs. It is a great resource and for those inclined you may purchase signed copies of this book.

Interview--Jim and Suzanne Gindlesperger

James and Suzanne Gindlesperger have written a couple of very interesting books dealing with the monuments on the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields. On his own Jim has written several highly acclaimed books and has been nominated for the prestigious Lincoln Prize. Suzanne is a co founder of a very successful writing group. I am honored that they have agreed to answer some questions for us. Links to my reviews of their books and also a link to their website may be found at the end of the interview. If you haven't seen their books yet I highly recommend them!
CBR--Jim and Suzanne, Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions. First off, can you tell readers a little bit about yourselves?

Thanks for asking us, Robert.  Well, we’ve been married for 42 years and we live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  We have two children and two rescue dogs.  We both enjoy the same things, especially tramping over Civil War battlefields, so it makes it easy to do projects like our books together.  Jim works at Carnegie Mellon University, and Sue is a Travel Consultant for AAA.

CBR--What led to your interest in the Civil War? Was it a particular book or visit to a battlefield?

It really wasn’t anything specific that we can recall.  We both have always enjoyed history, and with both of us having ancestors who fought in the Civil War it was a natural progression.  Because Antietam and Gettysburg are the two closest major battlefields to where we live, we just seemed to gravitate to them at first, and from there we just expanded our interests to the point now where most of our vacations seem to center around battlefield visits.

CBR--You've co-authored two books in the So You Think You Know... series, one dealing with Gettysburg and your recent book dealing with Antietam. Can you please describe your books and also what was the inspiration behind them?

Both books are similar.  We have always enjoyed learning some of the “behind the scenes” stories that you don’t often read about in the usual books about the battles.  We find them fascinating, and they give a truer picture of the men who fought.  Both books include photos of many of the monuments and locations on the battlefields, along with maps and GPS coordinates so people can locate them easily.  Then, we added stories about each one, trying to focus on the things we are often asked, such as why the monument sits where it does, what does it represent, who designed it, and, of course, the human interest stories.  Some of these stories are humorous, some are sad, but they all tell the story of the men who fought.  In a way, it’s kind of our own little tribute to them, hoping that people who read about them will not forget what they did.

Both battlefields, but especially Gettysburg, have been written about extensively.  But we haven’t found many books that tell the stories behind the men who fought, or the monuments that they built.  We wanted to stay away from the battle details, the tactics, and the strategies, because they had been done so well by so many others that we didn’t see any way we could add anything.  But the approach we have taken seems to have taken hold with many readers who tell us that they enjoy both the photography and the stories that they hadn’t heard before.

CBR--What has been the most interesting thing you have learned while researching these two battlefields?

One of the things we quickly picked up on in our early battlefield visits was the significance of the monuments.  Each one tells a story, and we’ve tried to pass that along in our books.  We tell people to take a few extra minutes to study the monuments, to look at the inscriptions, or focus on the figures shown and what they are doing.  In nearly every instance the monument depicts some significant event that the regiment or individual was involved in.  That is really what got us interested in the behind-the-scenes stories we referred to.  We wanted to find out what the men who fought were trying to tell us with their monument, and we learned that the scenes shown weren’t just something general but were actually testimonies to someone who did something outstanding in the battle, or to honor the entire regiment for some stand they took or some charge they were involved in.  Too often these monuments are taken for granted.  We look at them for a moment and move on to the next,  and people would be surprised at how interesting their stories really are.  It might take a little digging when you get back home, but it will add to anyone’s appreciation of the battle and is well worth the time. 

CBR--How have the books been received by readers?

They have been received extremely well.  The Gettysburg book won the bronze award for the ForeWord Review’s Book of the Year in 2010, and that really seemed to trigger a lot of interest.  In fact, the reception the Gettysburg book got was the real reason we decided to do the one on Antietam.

It’s really gratifying to have strangers come up to us at a book signing or after one of our lectures and tell us that they didn’t have much of an interest in the Civil War until they read our books.  And how flattering is it when a licensed battlefield guide tells us he uses some of our stories in his tours?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

CBR--Many writing partnerships are done long distance but the two of you are married. Can you describe how you do your research and who is responsible for what? Does one of you do the writing and the other the photography or is the writing more collaborative?

Our research techniques are really pretty hard to describe.  Maybe because we really don’t have a specific procedure.  One of us can be taking a picture and the other will say, “Here, let me have the camera a minute,” and then take a photo of something that the other didn’t see.  As a result, we have a lot of photos of the same thing that we can choose from, with different angles or lighting effects.  And we often look at the pictures later and truly don’t remember which one of us took some of them. 

We don’t have a set pattern, where one takes the pictures and the other writes the stories.  While one of us is talking about something we learned about an individual or a regiment, it may remind the other of something that seems totally unrelated, and we write it down so we can try to work it in somewhere later.  It sounds pretty haphazard, and maybe it is, but it seems to work for us.

Our work really is a joint effort, and we’ve always had the luxury that we don’t take our writing too seriously.  We do it because we enjoy it, and we don’t put any pressure on ourselves to get something done by a certain time.  We don’t even submit it to our agent until it is finished, so we don’t have to rush to meet any contract deadlines.  That keeps it fun. 

CBR--Time to put you on the spot. Of these two battlefields do you have a favorite? Also, any particular monuments that stick out as being your favorites and why?

Jim;  For me, each battlefield has its own strong points.  Gettysburg is a treasure trove of stories, simply because it is so large and so many troops were involved.  But Antietam is such an easy battle to follow, and the field itself is small enough that it can easily be covered in a weekend.  So I guess I would have to say I don’t have a clear cut favorite.

But I do have some favorite monuments.  At Antietam I like the 90th Pennsylvania monument, mostly because it is so unique.  The fact that Gary Casteel, a friend of ours, sculpted it, helps, too.  And I like the story behind the 51st Pennsylvania at the Burnside Bridge.  They had their whiskey ration taken from them as punishment for some infraction, and when their colonel asked them if they thought they could capture the bridge, they immediately saw a chance to negotiate.  They said they could take the bridge if he gave them back their whiskey.  Both got what they wanted.

One of my favorite spots at Gettysburg isn’t even a monument.  It’s a rock on Culp’s Hill where Private Augustus Coble of the 1st North Carolina left his mark.  He was so proud of his participation in the battle that he found a way to go back to Gettysburg many years later and find the boulder where he fought, somehow carving his name and regiment into it.  It shows how important the battle was to those who fought there.

And because I enjoy irony, I also like the Excelsior Brigade monument in the Wheatfield.  It was supposed to include a bust of General Daniel Sickles, but when the time came for the bust to be sculpted, an audit revealed that the money to pay for it was missing.  Turns out that the good general was responsible for the missing money, so he never got his bust on the monument.  A fitting end to the story, I think.  Although later, as a Congressman, he was responsible for the act that established the battlefield as a national park, so in some respects, he got his recognition anyway.

Suzanne:  Like Jim, I can’t pick one battlefield over the other.  Each holds a special place for me.  Gettysburg has the most spectacular sunsets and watching them from Little Round Top is an experience everyone should enjoy.

I do have a special place, though, along Wheatfield Road.  There’s a marker for Captain Jedidiah Chapman of Connecticut who died while leading his company towards the Rose Woods.  I came across this marker several years before the naturalization project began in Gettysburg.  When I found it, it was hidden in overgrown weeds and seemed forgotten.  I wondered who he was.  Since that time I’ve learned a bit about him and his family.  Sadly, he was so young when he died, leaving a wife and children.  Whenever we’re in Gettysburg, I try to visit his marker to thank him for his sacrifice.

I have two favorites at Antietam.  The first is the Dunker Church.  It’s plain and simple and so quiet  whenever you enter, so unlike that day in September 150 years ago.  I like to sit in one of the pews and listen to the silence and offer a prayer  not only for  those who fought there, but for my loved ones as well.

The second place is unique, and as Jim mentioned, it’s one of his favorites, too.  It’s the monument to the Ninetieth Pennsylvania Infantry and is three fixed bayonets and a hanging cook pot.  It sits along Cornfield Avenue and is shaded by the tree line.  On one visit, it was covered with bright orange Monarch butterflies.  What a treat that was!  

CBR--Jim, you've written several other Civil War related books. Would you care to let readers know about your earlier works?

My first book, Escape from Libby Prison, documents the famous tunnel escape.  This was the largest Prisoner of War escape in American military history, and according to the National Park Service, my book was the first in-depth account published.  Escape from Libby Prison won the George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.  It was also featured in a Discovery Channel documentary, and Warner Brothers purchased the film rights.  Tom Hanks and Dylan Sellers were to be the producers, but unfortunately, after a few years, Warner Brothers decided not to follow through with it.

My second book followed the cadets of Virginia Military Institute in the Battle of New Market.  It was titled Seed Corn of the Confederacy, a title that Jefferson Davis gave the cadets.  It was the first book about New Market that was devoted exclusively to the participation of the VMI cadets, and the director of the VMI museum wrote that the story had never been told better.

My third book, Fire on the Water, focused on the voyages of the CSS Alabama and the USS Kearsarge.  The Alabama accounted for nearly one of every four Union merchant ships lost during the entire Civil War, with more than 60 ships destroyed.  The Kearsarge was one of the Union ships charged with finding and sinking the Alabama.  The two finally met in an epic battle off the coast of France on June 19, 1864.   I used ship logs and diaries to document the words and lives of the participants and was able to offer a look into life at sea during the Civil War.  I also examined and discussed the many controversies surrounding the battle.  Fire on the Water also won the George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence and was nominated for the Lincoln Prize.

CBR--Suzanne, you are a co founder of Pennwriters. Can you let readers know about this  organization?

What began as a brainstorm of five people, Pennwriters has grown as a not-for-profit organization of more than 450 members from Pennsylvania and beyond.  It was established in 1988 to be a network for published and aspiring writers of all genres.   We offer a three-day writers conference each year as well as area events, email groups, online classes and social networking.  I encourage any writer who needs help and encouragement to visit

CBR--So what is up next for the two of you? Any books in the future for readers to be on the lookout for?

We have a couple of projects in the works.  We are working together on a second volume of So You Think You Know Gettysburg? that we are kind of excited about.  There were so many pictures and stories that we wanted to include that we couldn’t fit them all into one book, so that is something that we definitely want to do.  And Jim has had a long time interest in the trial and hanging of Henry Wirz, the Commandant of Andersonville Prison.  He is actively gathering information on that and plans to do an objective study of Wirz and the trial.  Sue has an idea for a book on field hospitals that is just starting to take shape, so she hopes to pursue that at some point.  All in all, it looks like we have enough ideas that we should be busy for a while.

Thanks so much for allowing us to be a part of this interview, Robert.  We really appreciate it.

CBR--And thank you for taking the time to participate. I really appreciate your time and highly suggest readers purchase your  books. They are both entertaining and informative!
Please see my review of So You Think You Know Antietam here.
Please see my review of So You Think You Know Gettysburg here.
Please visit James and Suzanne's website here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

PBS--American Experience Announces The Abolitionist Map of America


Interactive Map Explores the Legacy of the Anti-Slavery Movement

Through Its Impact on Local Communities

BOSTON , MA - DATE, 2012 - AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has announced the launch of The Abolitionist Map of America, an interactive website that explores events, characters and locations connected to the anti-slavery movement, one of the most important civil rights crusade in American history. The map engages communities around their local history, connecting the stories told in The Abolitionists, premiering Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013 on PBS, to real geographic locations, bringing events from the past to life and integrating them into present-day American cities.

American Experience is working with hundreds of museums, libraries, archives and public television stations to populate the map with geo-tagged historical photos and documents, as well as more than 30 video clips from The Abolitionists. The public is invited to upload their own content with the goal of creating a map that reflects the shared history of the movement and its indelible mark on local communities and the nation.

Developed with innovative technology from public media history platform Historypin, the Abolitionist Map of America allows users to superimpose an archival image of a specific location over the present-day street view of that same location, showing how a significant place has changed over time. Walking tours of Boston , Charleston , Cincinnati and Philadelphia can be experienced by users virtually on the Web or spontaneously as they walk through the city. The Abolitionist Map of America will be available as an iPhone app in December 2012.

View The Abolitionist Map of America here:

Institutional partners already collaborating on the Map include the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture (Charleston, SC), Boston Public Library, Cincinnati Public Library, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Library Company in Philadelphia Program in African American History, Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives and Records Administration, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the New Bedford Historical Society, and the University of Rochester Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

About American Experience

Television’s most-watched history series, American Experience has been hailed as “peerless” (Wall Street Journal), “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune), and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America ’s past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, American Experience documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, and 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, one most recently for the series represented by Freedom Riders, Triangle Fire, and Stonewall Uprising.

Exclusive corporate funding for American Experience is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for The Abolitionists provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Additional Funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations: Dedicated to Strengthening America's Future Through Education; the Yawkey Foundations; Members of the Documentary Investment Group, The Gretchen Stone Cook Charitable Foundation, Robert & Marjie Kargman and Gloria & Burton Rose; and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Television Viewers. American Experience is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 1864 St. Augustine, FL

While researching my book on St. Augustine during the Civil War I came across this short Thanksgiving remembrance. Written by Captain Albert W. Peck 17th Connecticut Co. D I think it shows the difficulties often faced by soldiers and their ingenuity in solving problems.

I remember Thanksgiving Day we had no meat for dinner so I took my gun and went up the river a mile or so and killed six nice ducks and I brought them home and our cook had them picked and roasted for dinner and we had a grand dinner.*

Albert Peck was born on February 7, 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Jabez and Henriette Peck. According to the 1850 United States Census he had two sisters and a brother. By 1860 he was living as a boarder in the home of Anna Banks. He was employed as a clerk and had personal property worth $300.

Peck enrolled in the 17th Connecticut Company D. According to the NPS Soldiers and Sailors website Peck enlisted as a First Sergeant in 1862. The 17th took part in battles at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. They also took part in siege operations against Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter. They were later transferred to duty in Florida serving  the remainder of 1864 and part of 1865 in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area. The regiment six officers and 122 enlisted men die to either wounds or disease during the war. Peck was mustered out of service on July 19, 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina as a 1st Lieutenant.

Headstone for Albert
and Louisa Peck located
in Newton Village
Photo Courtesy TomKat
 By 1870 Albert Peck was working at a merchant in Newton, CT. He was married to a woman named Louisa Booth and had a three year old son named Robert. His personal estate totaled over $5,100. In 1880 Peck was working as a farmer, a job he would hold until after 1900. During this time he and Louisa had two more sons, Charles and Albert Jr, and a daughter, Grace. It can be assumed that the Peck family was doing well financially as both the 1880 and 1900 Census list them as having live in servants.

Louisa passed away on July 24, 1905. The widower Albert and his youngest son Albert Jr. became boarders living with the Hiltbrand family in Newton, CT. The Hiltbrand family operated a dairy farm. Albert Sr. passed away on April 7, 1918. He is buried in Newton Village Cemetery in Newton, CT.

*Source: Peck, Albert W. Civil War Reminiscences 1862-1865. State Library and Archives of Florida, Tallahassee, FL.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Releases from SIU Press

Thanks go out to my great friends at Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a couple of new releases.

First up from author Robert Eckley is Lincoln's Forgotten Friend, Leonard Swett. In 1849, while traveling as an attorney on the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln befriended Leonard Swett (1825–89), a fellow attorney sixteen years his junior. Despite this age difference, the two men built an enduring friendship that continued until Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Until now, no historian has explored Swett’s life or his remarkable relationship with the sixteenth president. In this welcome volume, Robert S. Eckley provides the first biography of Swett, crafting an intimate portrait of his experiences as a loyal member of Lincoln’s inner circle.

Hardcover, 306 pages, 253 pages of text, index, notes, bibliography, b/w photos, ISBN 9780809332052, $34.95.

Author Guy C. Fraker brings us Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit. Throughout his twenty-three-year legal career, Abraham Lincoln spent nearly as much time on the road as an attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit as he did in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. Yet most historians gloss over the time and instead have Lincoln emerge fully formed as a skillful politician in 1858. In this innovative volume, Guy C. Fraker provides the first-ever study of Lincoln’s professional and personal home away from home and demonstrates how the Eighth Judicial Circuit and its people propelled Lincoln to the presidency.

Hardcover, 328 pages, 258 pages of text, index, notes, bibliography, b/w photos, 3 maps, ISBN 9780809332014, $34.95.


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!