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4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,213 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
A masterful, single-volume history of the Civil War's greatest campaign.

Drawing on original source material, from soldiers' letters to official military records of the war, Stephen W. Sears's Gettysburg is a remarkable and dramatic account of the legendary campaign. He takes particular care in his study of the battle's leaders and offers detailed analyses of their strateg
Paperback, 640 pages
Published November 3rd 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 2003)
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Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War fast approaches and I couldn’t be more excited. It promises to be a bonanza of books, movies, documentaries, and various other retrospectives, including the New York Times’ laudable and addicting Disunion blog. I can hardly contain myself, and have spent a bit of time preparing for the celebrations. Fireworks. Check. Flask of whiskey. Check. Stale crackers that I will substitute for hardtack. Check. Irritatingly pedagogic emails to be sent to my fri ...more
Bob Mayer
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very detailed account of the battle. If you want a blow by blow, person by person narrative, this is it. Well written.
I found the politicking of the generals interesting. Some things never change. Despite the fact it's life and death for the common soldier, many generals still are more interested in their career.
The dry narrative hides the horror of this kind of battle; the bodies torn and destroyed.
I used this book as a reference for my Gettysburg mission in Independence Day (Time Patrol) In
May 12, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I was visiting Gettysburg the weekend I started reading this book and brought the book along as my textbook. I've read other books about Gettysburg, but I understand this is an especially good overview of the battle. During the weekend I was in Gettysburg, I got to see the monument that commemorates the first shot fired at Gettysburg. It's easy to miss because it's quite small and, until recently, was on private land. The Park Service recently purchased the house and property on which the monume ...more
Josh Liller
An excellent book about the most famous battle of the Civil War. Sears does a great job of covering every last bit of the battle in depth. He includes the lead up to the battle, with Lee's initial discussions with Jefferson Davis about invading Pennsylvania and the fallout from Chancellorsville in Hooker's army which eventually leads to Hooker's resignation (and replacement by Meade) when he is in the midst of chasing the Rebel army.

The book paints quite an interesting picture of the squabbling
Sean Chick
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I see the value of Sears' work. He is not an exacting historian. He is not an archive rat who will prove the precise location of a regiment in an obscure battle. He also has defined bias aganist certain men who can seemingly do nothing right in this book (Howard, Slocum, Pleasanton, Kilpatrick, etc.) He is also not a person to overturn the existing orthodoxy. This does not mean he does not have original insights. His take on Hooker is fresh and solid although some of Hooker's less savory ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am going to Gettysburg this autumn and plan to read or re - read several of the most authoratative books of the battle. Sear's has written an excellent and gripping chronicle of the battle and the military and political context around it. His source material for the military intelligence and command decisions of Army of the Potomac is excellent. On the other hand , there is not any new insight or perspective on the reasons for the most controversial actions of Lee's army. Lots of speculation a ...more
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Every time I visit Gettysburg (when I lived in MD it was usually once a year to play guide to visitors) I will re-read this book. The book makes the battle come alive in ways that just the facts and photos can't. Stephen Sears humanizes what to most is just historical facts learned in school.

If you are unable to visit Gettysburg, you can with this book, the details and descriptions are that good. If you can visit Gettysburg, reading this book will enhance the visit. You feel the sick sense of d
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding compilation on the Gettysburg campaign. I have read the Landscape Turned Red, Chancellorsville, and now Gettysburg. I enjoyed every page of every book. This book explains Lee’s reason for the invasion of Pennsylvania…. first the Army of Northern Virginia needed food and supplies for their men and forage for their horses and secondly the South needed a victory to offset the pending loss of Vicksburg. Lee believed reinforcing Vicksburg would do nothing more than dilute the o ...more
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gettysburg buffs ... but then again, if you are one shouldn't you have read this already?
The word 'meticulous' was invented for this book. The sheer detail is amazing, and it has a positive and a negative effect.

First the negatives: at some points it reads like a college textbook, especially in the opening few chapters when it is listing the various corps and their commanders. You can not easily breeze-read this book (unless you don't sweat comprehension). There's also the problem with keeping track of the seemingly thousands of regiments and divisions and their leaders that are det
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The title of this book is a bit deceiving. There is much more to this work than just the battle itself. Sears sets up the scenario by revealing how the different pieces for this accidental battle fell into place. It begins with Lee and Davis planning their invasion of the North with the parallel account of the political bickering in the Union Army which resulted in General Meade becoming the reluctant Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The Gettysburg Campaign begins June 3 in Culpeper VA as L
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
This is probably the most comprehensive and indepth study of what's arguably the most famous battle of the Civil War, and possibly of American history. It covers more than just the events of those three fateful days; it delves briefly into the events of the war so far that led up to the battle, the personalities of the generals and their subordinates, and attempts to explain the rationalizations for the decisions (both good and bad) that ultimately helped decide the victor. In particular, I love ...more
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you are fascinated by civil war history and enjoy a well researched history book than you should give Stephen Sears a try. I read this book last year in expectation of a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania. It was a slow read for me but one well worth the time. I found myself re-reading sections of the book as I traversed the town and battlfield upon finishing the book. A fantastic piece of historical documentation. The best thing about Sear's books are the variety of sources h ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Faulted Sears's Chancellorsville for spending too much time locating every bullet that was ever fired. Then my National park ranger and old room mate took me on a trip through Fredricksburg, Marys Heights, and on to Chancellorship where he forced marched us along Stonewall Jackson's flanking maneuver. Made me appreciate Sear's detail.

His Gettysburg is even better. Here he not only locates the bullets but the soldiers that fired them and all but climbs into the minds of the field general's who f
Dec 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, history
Once I began this I was unable to do much else except read it to the end. A good battle story should cover both the top-level political and strategic context and decisions as well as the view of the soldiers on the ground, bringing out both the exhaustion, horror and heroism. Sears does all of this well and in detail. General Lee, brilliant in earlier victories, is portrayed as out of action here. General Meade, later criticized for not pursuing the confederates afterward, comes across well as i ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of, if not the, most amazing volume of history I've ever read. He not only dives into the details of each day's battle, but he goes to great lengths to examine the events the lead up to and essentially set up the battle of Gettysburg. He lends a very fair and intellectual curious eye and writes with the power and suspense of fiction.
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A truly great work on the battle. Does a very good job of covering the transition from Hooker to Meade and addresses the many questions regarding Lee and his subordinates during the battle.
I would recommend this work to anyone interested in the battle. Detailed, even-handed without being non-judgmental just a great work.
Keith Landry
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A well-written account of the battle that changed the face of the Civil War. Strategy and lack of strategy are clearly explained in this tome. The maps are useful and the character research adds to one's understanding of this battle.
Monte Lamb
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-civil-war
This is an outstanding book on the battle. It has enough detail for the serious student of the battle yet the story doesn't bog down with too much detail. The writing is clear and all facets of the fighting are covered.
Mark R
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best history of the battle of Gettysburg that I've ever read (and I've read too many). I would, however, recommend that you have a basic knowledge of the military jargon of the time, specifically dealing with the organization of the respective armies.

Highly Recommended.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, should be read after the "The Killer Angels." This book replaces the emotion of the latter with the factual details of the overall execution of these horrific days.
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
May be the best of the many Gettysburg books. The author captures the human experience as well as explaining the military tatics.
Reading this in honor of the 150th anniversary next week. I have read THE KILLER ANGELS, this being my second Gettysburg book but I hear this is one of the best so I'm looking forward to this one!
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent accounting of the 3 day engagement at Gettysburg of the Confederate and Union forces.
Robin Friedman
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Civil War, particularly the Battle of Gettysburg, retains its hold on the imagination of Americans. We seek to understand our country by studying the events of these terrible but formative years. The Civil War did indeed lead to a "new birth of freedom" in the United States. We still struggle to understand and to develop the implications of this "new birth".

Stephen Sears is a distinguished military historian of the Civil War who has written in this book an outstanding account of the pivotal
Donna Davis
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the most thorough and brilliant account of the Battle of Gettysburg (all three days, plus the approach and the departure) I have ever read.

I have to laugh at the reviews that claim there is too much detail here. Hey, folks, look at the title, and look at the number of pages. If you aren't ready to have the complete, detailed account, you should know before you buy it or check it out from your library that this isn't for you.

I used to teach about the American Civil War, and it continues
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this well told story as I listened to it on my bike rides without the benefit of maps. I have read enough about Gettysburg and visited and walked the ground enough to be able to follow story, but I missed the maps. I finally reverted to the maps in Cuelso's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion and one of my two copies of The West Point Atlas of the Civil War. Maps- or the lack thereof- in war/battle histories continues to be a pet peeve. A location- town, hill, field, forest, etc.- or unit sh ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great book by Sears who is a brilliant researcher. It has to be a daunting task to write on a subject that hundreds of others have. I take a little umbrage with his lauding of praise on General Meade. Yes it was his first week in command and he did consolidate the army to help make victory possible. But Hancock was the lead for the union in this battle. IMO no mistaking that. This was Lee's battle to lose, and he did, but that doesn't make Meade great. He was in fact a little above average dur ...more
A well written book for what it is. Unfortunately, what it is happens to be a style of book that is clearly not for me; that is, a dry book largely about detailed military orders and maneuvers, largely lacking in greater human interest. I'm sure this is an amazing book for someone who is interested only in military strategy and the minute details of battle, but for me, it lacked the greater details about the humanity involved.
Scott Pierce
Sears tries to answer one of the recurring questions - why did Lee go north: entice European entry on the side of the South, relieve VA farmers, force Union troops in Vicksburg east, then sue for peace.

Lee initially did not want to fight at Gettysburg, but his cavalry moved forward, and the Union's Buford wanted to defend it due to road network.

Michael Carlson
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read several fiction and non-fiction books about Gettysburg, this non-fiction treatment was by far the most serious and extensive. Aided by having gone to college in Gettysburg, I could visualize some--but not all--of the locations and situations described in the book.
A very good read.
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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
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