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Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
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Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  3,206 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews

Combining brilliant military analysis with rich narrative history, Landscape Turned Red is the definitive work on the Battle of Antietam.


The Civil War battle waged on September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek, Maryland, was one of the bloodiest in the nation's history: on this single day, the war claimed nearly 23,000 casualties. Here renowned historian Stephen Sears draw

Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 30th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1983)
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Jan 29, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were so sudden, shocking, and horrible that they defied the imagination. Words were insufficient to describe the events, and many survivors said of the experience, simply, that it was “like a movie.” To grasp the magnitude of the death and destruction of that day, many attempted to place it within a historical context. The search for a historical parallel, a day of equivalent violence, led to another lethal September, this one occurring in 1862.

The ba
Carol Storm
Jun 15, 2017 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excels in every way -- equal to the best of Bruce Catton. This is the definitive story of the Battle of Antietam!
Apr 09, 2012 Monty rated it it was amazing
Sears' book is probably the best single-volume work on the Battle of Antietam written to-date. He covers the necessary details of the battle without losing the thread of narrative. He has also written outstanding books on George B. McClellan and Abraham Lincoln, providing even more authority to his knowledge of major participants in the Maryland campaign. For all intents and purposes, the American Civil War should have ended in September 1862 with the destruction of Lee's army by the Army of the ...more
Donna Davis
Aug 29, 2012 Donna Davis rated it it was amazing
How familiar are you with the American Civil War? Can you tell McClernand from McClellan from McPherson? Did you know there was a General Ewell of importance for both the Union and Confederacy? One more miniquiz question: in what states would one find Shiloh, Corinth, and Fredericksburg?

What I am trying to say is that this tome, which is either the definitive work on the battle at Antietam or a strong contender, is written for those of us who are pretty well versed in the basics. It won't expla
Mar 30, 2014 Clyde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Landscape Turned Red: Battle of Antietam is without a doubt the best single-volume history of the battle of Antietam. Sears is a good writer and historian, and he brings the battle to life with emotion and close attention to detail. The book tells the story of a lost opportunity. An intelligence coup gave General George McClellan the opportunity to use the superb tool he had created, The Army of the Potomac, to destroy Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and quite possibly bring the war to ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I read this book years ago, right after it was first published and enjoyed it immensely. Also, I have a direct ancestor who was a young Lieutenant in the 21st Massachusetts with Burnside's Ninth Corps, and was badly injured at Burnside's Bridge during the Battle of Antietam. I visited the battlefield in the fall of 1996 and literally had the entire battlefield to myself. It was an almost spiritual experience wandering over the landscape and remembering the horrors that Sears described in Landsca ...more
John Osman
Apr 09, 2012 John Osman rated it it was amazing
This book came highly recommended by a few websites which I found while goggling books about the Civil War and especially Antietam. I then recommended it to my son and two of my son-in-laws since we were planning a family outing over Easter at Antietam. All four of us read this book and it did not disappoint. We liked Sears narrative style and the book fully prepared us for our trip. We liked it so much that we starting reading his other book on Gettysburg.
Sep 07, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I grew up close to the Antietam Battlefield. I remember going there as a child and being impressed with the green fields and the impressive monuments. One summer my visiting grandfather insisting on being taken there. We could have visited any number of Civil War sites, including Gettysburg, quite easily but he wasn't interested in those places. He HAD to go to Antietam. Once we got there he insisted on visiting The Bridge. Standing in the middle of it he stared down at Antietam Creek and declar ...more
C.H. Cobb
Mar 10, 2014 C.H. Cobb rated it it was amazing
This volume ranks among the best works of military history that I have read. Sears is a top-drawer writer and historian, and this book displays both those skills. It’s one of the few histories I’ve read that could be legitimately described as a page-turner.

Sears does a great job of unfolding the context for the Battle of Antietam—of 336 pages in the main body of the book, fully 180 are devoted to establishing the background. Much of that material is spent elaborating General George B. McClellan’
Aug 15, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
As the 150 anniversary of the Battle of Antietam approaches, I'm trying to refamilarize myself with the lay of land so to speak and the title of this book gives one pause as to the carnage inflicted on a single September on a battlefield in near a creak by the town called Sharpsburg. I've only got past the introduction but for the Union and for Lincoln in general, the War was going very very wrong.

Since the elevation of command from relative obscurity from military advisor to the President of th
Aug 10, 2013 Judy rated it it was amazing
For students of American history, and especially of the Civil War, this fascinating study of the Battle of Antietam is a must-read. The Battle of Antietam took place on September 17, 1862 and it stands as the single bloodiest day of the Civil War. There were almost 23,000 casualties for American families to endure after the fight in Maryland for Antietam Creek. Stephen W. Sears places the battle into the political and military context of the war and he deftly analyzes the personalities of the ma ...more
This is certainly the best historical account that I have read of the Battle of Antietam. It takes into account the political climate both before, during and after the battle. It states that Lee really had little choice but to take the fight into Maryland (and hopefully further). Virginia was largely laid waste by the actions of the two armies over the past year and provided little if any food or support. The Confederacy's supply system was horrible, leaving its men shoeless, hungry and ragged. ...more
Nathan Loding
Feb 23, 2016 Nathan Loding rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of books on the Civil War - I mean, dozens upon dozens - and only one other book challenged my perception of the war like this one. Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels put faces onto the combatants that no other book has (no other book has been as successful, at least). Sears' "Landscape Turned Red" challenges the commonly held narrative of the war in a rather indisputable way. (As a side note, the "McClellan Debate" over at the Washington Post is a worthy follow up to this book.) ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, civil-war
An exceptional book for Civil War buffs, or anyone interested in a good story well told. Mr. Sears masterfully combines narrative with the words of participants in the bloody Battle of Antietam Creek (a.k.a. Sharpsburg). I learned much about the politics of the War, the petty jealousies among the Union's generals, and the psychological mystery that was George MacClellan, a general better equipped to organize defenses and hold splendid parade maneuvers than wage war on a battlefield. You'll be ap ...more
Ben Vogel
Feb 02, 2010 Ben Vogel rated it really liked it
Any book on Antietam is going to have two guaranteed elements; a primer on the origins and issuance of the emancipation proclamation and a thorough indictment on the ego and hesitancy of General George B McClellan. This book serves well in the first instance and doubles down on the second. Indeed it could easily be subtitled: The Worst General in the World or some similar construction. Sears despises McClellan, and if you didn't share in that opinion to begin with, he will go a long way toward c ...more
Erin Hanton
Apr 20, 2016 Erin Hanton rated it really liked it
I don't normally read War books, as I tend to find them unreadable. This one was a pleasant surprise, as I found it incredibly readable and much easier to follow than others I've attempted, and I have very little knowledge about these events, and am not much of a history buff. As a complete layman when it comes to war and military history, I have three minor complaints. 1) While this is a good history of the battle, it seems to function more as an essay lampooning the leadership of McLellan than ...more
Andy Bittner
Sep 19, 2012 Andy Bittner rated it it was amazing
Even 150 years after the fact, the carnage of September 17, 1862, at Sharpsburg, Maryland, is hard to comprehend. From the title on, Stephen Sears' Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, comes closer to providing some such understanding than any other book I've read on the subject. How is it that so many men can happen to come together, in such a relatively confined space, and have at each other for 12 hours, leaving more than 20,000 casualties behind just 48 hours later? This is a wonder ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Bruce rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent portrayal of the bloodiest day in American history and the events that led up to it. It places the blame for the battle and the blood that was shed squarely where it belongs, on General George McClellan, head of the Union Army. Cautious by nature, General McClellan failed to pursue opportunity after opportunity to destroy the Rebel Army and, by not following up on it, prolonging the war by 3 more years. A bonus chapter is devoted to Lost Order No. 19, which practically ...more
Scott L.
Mar 03, 2010 Scott L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War and/or the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). This is a very comprehensive look at the battle, mostly from the Union aspect, but still very good in its scope. Sears is obviously an excellent historian and writer. His books on Gettysburg and Chancellorsville are must-reads for Civil War historians, and this book is definitely their equal. I give this book 4 stars because its treatment is basically from the Federal viewpoint - and pr ...more
Roger Wickboldt
Sep 08, 2014 Roger Wickboldt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
I really enjoyed reading Sears' book on the battle of Antietam. In particular, I liked the historical background that Sears provides leading up to the battle since that gave me a much better understanding of the frame of mind of many of the key participants. I also appreciated Sears honest opinions regarding mistakes made by both sides during the campaign and battle. Now I need to check out his other historical works!
Sean Chick
Jul 17, 2015 Sean Chick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard this was a classic battlefield history and Sears does not disappoint. He balances drama, military analysis, and political considerations in one of the finest history books ever written. Antietam never fascinated me, but now it sure does.

My only gripe? Too mean to McClellan (1980s was the high tide of McClellan bashing) and too kind to Lee (Sharpsburg was a bad place to fight a battle).
Bill Daniels
Apr 20, 2015 Bill Daniels rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Civil War I read. Prof. Sears hooked me on the Civil War.

I was first made aware of the book as a book read on Public Radio by Michigan State University's Dick Estell. I then read it in 1989.

My Great Grandfather Worley served in the Indiana Infantry. After the war, he located to Longton, Kansas and established himself as a banker and a State Representative.
Rob McFarren
Feb 09, 2014 Rob McFarren rated it it was amazing
very well researched and readable. great incorporation of individual correspondences of soldiers, the generals, and politicians. set the stage well, then catalogued the events and tactics leading into and through the battle well. if interested in antietam and the circumstances around 1862 it is a great read.
Michael Ellis
If Sears wrote it, you need to read it.
Sep 06, 2012 John rated it really liked it
really shows how bad lil mac was.
Jun 18, 2017 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Landscape Turned Red covers each of the major engagements of 17 September 1862, the bloodiest day in American military history. As with his other Civil War histories, author Stephen W. Sears stacks the narrative with evidence, much of it from the correspondence of the battle's participants. The book features a detailed study of the infamous 'Lost Order.' Mr. Sears has written extensively about Union General George McClellan, and he characterizes the general's ineptitude at Antietam with profound ...more
Jun 01, 2017 Jim rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Maag
Jul 02, 2017 John Maag rated it it was amazing
where the previous book I read on the topic gave a nice higher overview of the battle this book went more in depth in a very complete manner. I very much enjoyed the style and ease of reading. I can't recommend this and the other book enough.
Cormac Zoso
Nov 13, 2012 Cormac Zoso rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usa-civil-war
Another of the 'must-reads' by this marvelous US Civil War historian, 'Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam', covers one of the most horrific chapters in the USA's military history (that can even easily be expanded to non-military history if you like). Antietam is one of those words, one of those places, one of those events that make the goose-flesh rise on my arms every time I hear it. Right up there with Shiloh for best-known Civil War slaughters, there are quite a collection of these ...more
Jul 10, 2013 Jeff rated it liked it
Most people who think of the Civil War Battles often begin with Gettysburg but the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, was just as bloody and on this single day, the war claimed nearly 23,000 casualties with 1,546 deaths suffered by the South and 2,108 by the North. More men lost their lives that day than at Pearl Harbor, D-Day or 9/11.

I could get into a very long and probably painful analysis of the book but I’m sure for most non-history fans it would be a bore.

Here are several brief
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Goodreads Librari...: Changing a book's description 4 28 Jul 22, 2016 08:09AM  
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Stephen Ward Sears is an American historian specializing in the American Civil War.

A graduate of Lakewood High School and Oberlin College, Sears attended a journalism seminar at Radcliffe-Harvard. As an author he has concentrated on the military history of the American Civil War, primarily the battles and leaders of the Army of the Potomac. He was employed as editor of the Educational Department a
More about Stephen W. Sears...

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