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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  1,628 Ratings  ·  233 Reviews
From the acclaimed Civil War historian, and coinciding with 150th anniversary of the legendary battle: a brilliant new history--the most intimate and richly readable account we have had--that draws the reader into the muck and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts, as never before, the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced o ...more
Paperback, 632 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jun 01, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gettysburg is the most famous battle in American history. Occurring over three days in July 1863, it was a seesaw affair in which the fate of a nation continually rested on a wobbling flank, a rugged hillside, a gap in a line. It was a battle that took ordinary local geographic features and made them immortal: the Peach Orchard; Devil’s Den; Little Round Top. When it was over, nothing had been decided. The Confederate Army of Robert E. Lee escaped. The Union Army of George Meade let them. And th ...more
Steven Peterson
Jun 15, 2013 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I saw that this book came out, I asked: Do we need yet one more book on Gettysburg? From Coddington (a magisterial treatment) on, there have been many fine works on this battle. After a while, I got a sense of deja vu. If you were a Civil War historian, at some point you wrote a book on Gettysburg. Allen Guelzo brings an edginess to his examination of Gettysburg. He questions some of the accepted wisdom about the battle and injects his own perspective (some examples later on).

As a history o
Jun 20, 2013 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There are a number of good books about the Gettysburg campaign (Shelby Foote's account in the second volume of "The Civil War," Stephen Sears's "Gettysburg," Harry Pfanz's detailed analyses of the first and second days, and the books on Pickett's Charge by Earl Hess, George Stewart, and Carol Reardon) but Guelzo's is remarkably well done. He's read everything (see his prefatory notes on what's not available), writes strongly (see his description of Dan Sickles or of Powell Hill), makes very clea ...more
Diamond Cowboy
Sep 03, 2015 Diamond Cowboy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a faboulas book. I will give you all a full review shortly.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Steven Z.
Oct 14, 2013 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
According to Allen C. Guelzo, as of 2004 6,193 books, articles and pamphlets have been written about the Battle of Gettysburg. Now in the 150th anniversary year of a battle that has been seared into American memory we have another prodigious volume that describes and analyzes the battle, the leading characters, as well as the soldiers who were involved in the fighting. Guelzo’s work GETTYSBURG: THE LAST INVASION may be the best one volume account since that of Bruce Catton’s appeared in 1952. In ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Barry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
The book is impressive in many ways, including the depth of detail. This was less impressive, however, when I read about the unit that I re-enact, in which the author misnames the officer who was killed (John) instead of his actual name Augustus Van Horn Ellis (no, he never used a nickname). There were some noticeable inconsistencies, such as a digression on how few soldiers were felled by so many bullets, averaging, he says only one or two per volley directed at them, then a few pages later des ...more
May 06, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen C. Guelzo
This book is so filled with information that it could have ended up being another boring geek read that only appealed to a limited audience.
However, I find that the information is new to me, and so complex in how it is woven together, that I am staying up late to finish the next chapter.
Really a must for any Civil war buff. I bet you will find at least 3 things that you didn't know!
Robin Friedman
Jul 16, 2013 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 -- July 3, 1863) offers the opportunity to reflect upon the battle and its significance. Although every aspect of the battle has been written about extensively, attempts at understanding continue, as with any historical subject of complexity and moment. Allen Guelzo's new book "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" (2013) offers a detailed, insightful, and beautifully written history of the Gettysburg campaign that has much to teach both readers ...more
Jun 10, 2013 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great for the historian, the 'buff', and the casual reader who wants a better understanding of a pivotal event in American history. Excellently and abundantly sourced, "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" paints a rich tableau of the town before the battle, the course of events that brought the armies to the quiet crossroads, and manages to explain the strategic and tactical elements of the battle while not neglecting at all the very human elements of the experience of Civil War combat. ...more
Michael Stach
Jun 25, 2013 Michael Stach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are going to visit Gettysburg you need to read this book before you go.
If you read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and want to know more, read this book.
Some will be disappointed because Guelzo doesn't give enough attention to some of the favorite subjects of the battle, like Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, but he more than makes up for this by telling the stories of people who are less familiar. If not Chamberlain, then who is the hero for Guelzo? First, would be Reynolds who gets credi
Judy Paskal
Sep 02, 2013 Judy Paskal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gettysburg:the Last Invasion is a thoroughly researched study full of fresh insights and thoughtful commentary. I was immediately startled by his account of the Confederate Army's first order of business once they had crossed into Pennsylvania. No, they did not look for shoes but for any black people, free or ex-slave, to send them on wagons back to the South and captivity. I admired Guelzo's comment on this episode, namely that it represented exactly what the South was fighting for, that their ...more
Bill S.
May 14, 2013 Bill S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gettysburg
I have been a Civil War buff for many years having read probably about 200 books on the war in general and another thirty or so on Gettysburg in particular.

I was slightly leery about picking up Dr.Guelzo's book fearing just another rehash of numerous other battle books. Having just finished "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" I can honestly say - IMHO - this is the best book I've ever read on the subject.

Guelzo masterfully weaves the preparation for the battle with the political backstabbing taking
Aug 12, 2013 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the first three days of July in 1863, and in spite of its importance, might have been just another battle site competing in memory with all the rest but for its reframing in just 272 words by Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg that November. Subsequently, an outpouring of words on Gettysburg has described every aspect of the battle, with Allen Guelzo, Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College, adding ...more
This isn't a book with one outstanding, over-the-top new idea or thesis because in part the bar is so high on Gettysburg works that it's hard to do that. I was torn between 4- and 5-star ratings, when I eventually realized I'd learned enough new from Guelzo to give it a bump.

That said, I did learn some new things.

First among those main new things is that shifting the blame, on the Confederate side, away from Lee is not something that happened after his death with "the Lost Cause."

No, it happened
Shellys♥ Journal
Originally finished on June 3, 2013.

I have read and enjoyed a number of the historical fiction accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg, but there is nothing like a well-written narrative account to truly give the reader the full experience of the event. This is one of those books.

Guelzo gives us the usual background information on events preceding the war, but also discusses the politics of being in the Union or Confederate Army Leadership. Virginia rules in the South. There's a pecking order in th
A tremendous book. I’ve wanted to read more American history, and thought that starting with something micro and manageable – like a single battle – would be a good place to start. Gettysburg is more than just a battle, of course, but you know what I mean.

Guelzo’s history can be a bit like reading a 19th century Russian novel at times, except instead of having to keep track of patronymics and diminutives, you need to visualize geographical features and regiments of infantry, and remember the nam
Urey Patrick
Magnificent. Guelzo has created an extraordinary immersion experience with this spell binding history of the Gettysburg battle. He has personalized the battle, humanized the thousands of people caught up in it – collectively and individually. He explains causes and effects, mistakes made, decisions taken – drawing them out and explaining the consequences, short and long term. He examines the politics and personalities and the widespread effects they had. He engages in periodic digressions into 1 ...more
Grey Ghost
Jan 07, 2014 Grey Ghost rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An excellent description of the days leading up to, and the events of, the Battle of Gettysburg. If you don't have the heart to read Harry Pfanz's exhaustive and exhausting minute-by-minute descriptions of the action, Guelzo will nonetheless satisfy your desire for detail while providing you with a very readable and entertaining narrative rich in primary source detail.

Although he breaks relatively little new ground, he nonetheless has enough common sense to look objectively at and through 150 ye
Jun 30, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
Very detailed, compelling narrative. Like a number of the other reviewers, I have read many books about the Civil War (and Gettysburg in particular) over the years. I can honestly say this is one of the best Civil War histories (or battle histories in general) that I have read - Dr. Guelzo covers all of the familiar ground deftly, but also brings forward lesser known facts and personalities. For example, many readers may already know about Col. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine (I read Michael Shaa ...more
Scott L.
I originally viewed this book with some skepticism - after all the books that have been written about the Battle of Gettysburg - what could this one possibly add to the corpus? Quite honestly - not much. The book's saving grace is that it is very well written; and the details that Guelzo adds into the book, while known to most students of the battle, are still interesting. But as much research as Guelzo has done, he still makes too much of certain portions of the battle, while not getting into a ...more
Fred Forbes
May 25, 2013 Fred Forbes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike many reviewers, I am not a knowledgeable enough Civil War buff to criticize the material but I gave the book 4 stars due to the obviously amazing amount of research and scholarship that went into it. But, that same level of detail made the tome a bit tedious at times. While the battle portions was interesting and I think the author painted an accurate picture of just how confusing things can be in the middle of a fight, I also found his ability to weave some of the political aspects throu ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The best book I've read on the Gettysburg battle and perhaps the best Civil War book too. It's a very thorough, extremely well-written with a flowing narrative. I had not previously realized how many times the Army of the Potomac was on the threshold of disaster during those three days; and no thanks to their somewhat hapless leader, George Meade, time and time again a reserve was in the right spot at the right time, staving off ruin. Less a Union victory than a Confederate loss, it nonetheless ...more
Hank Pharis
I have not read any other books on Gettysburg specifically but its hard to imagine one better than this.
Mark Schulman
Jun 12, 2013 Mark Schulman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent. Probably as close to a definitive account of the Battle of Gettysburg as is possible to write.
May 27, 2017 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Military history has a tendency to be pretty dry. To do it comprehensively requires a keen eye for detail and to keep regiment and corps numbers and names all together; the writing often has to meander from one part of a large battle to another. Guelzo is not a trained military historian, as best as I can tell, but he does an excellent job keeping it together. He crafts a compelling narrative of what happened at Gettysburg, and what was decisive in the battle: in short, he criticizes Lee for hub ...more
Paul Lunger
May 16, 2017 Paul Lunger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Allen C. Guelzo's "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" tells the story of a July 1863 battle which would be the final invasion of the north by Robert E. Lee & the Army of Northern Virginia. The book sets the stage for the battle & then goes into great detail across all 3 days of the battle. With each step of the way, Guelzo puts us in the heads, minds & hearts of the soldiers who were there across those 3 days along w/ the people in the town of Gettysburg itself. The epilogue as well does ...more
Robert Barbantini
Mar 20, 2017 Robert Barbantini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War...what is it good for? Absolutely nothing....
The details of this battle made me realize how different war has been through the ages. The careless disregard for human life that leaders have as they attempt to "get their way" makes me wonder how civilized people can still even think about war. The other thing that I noted is the idea that luck, chance and good fortune follows one even onto the battlefield.
I learned some new facts that will enrich my second visit to Gettysburg someday. This was long at over 650 pages or 22 hours of listening, but it was worth a listen.
Jul 08, 2013 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it might not be possible to write a truly “original” history of the battle of Gettysburg at this point, Guelzo still manages to produce a dense, engaging and graphic general history of the campaign, and his sketches of the major players are insightful and provocative. The narrative, while strong, elegant, and well-written, is rather episodic, doesn’t always feel well-synthesized, and it often seems to lack any kind of rhythm or momentum.

Guelzo discusses the political conflicts within the A
Aug 26, 2015 Dick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was published in 2013 on the 150th anniversary of the great Battle of Gettysburg.

I seldom give five stars to a book, but this one of those times. In my view, it earned a 5 star rating.

Have visited the Gettysburg battlefield four times, this book made me want to visit again and take this book with me.

The book is full of minutiae and details of any such book I have read in a very long time. It was - for me - a slow read. Why? Because I did not want to miss a detail and kept referring to
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Allen Carl Guelzo (born 1953) is the Henry R. Luce III Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College, where he serves as Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program.
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“This was, after all, an army whose cause was inextricably bound up with the defense of black enslavement.” 0 likes
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