Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gettysburg” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.34  ·  Rating details ·  4,140 ratings  ·  225 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gettysburg, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gettysburg

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,140 ratings  ·  225 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Gettysburg
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Young [Lieutenant Alonzo] Cushing, graduated early from West Point in 1861 to meet the need for educated soldiers, kept his guns firing steadily, despite grievous losses among the crews. ‘He was as cool and calm as I ever saw him,’ recalled one of his men, ‘talking to the boys between shots with the glass constantly to his eyes, watching the effect of our shots.’ But so many gunners were down that Cushing too had to call on infantrymen to help man the guns. John Gibbon saw three of Cushing’s li ...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
robin friedman
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sears' Study Of Gettysburg

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 outstandi
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
RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)
I will finish down the road. I am just behind with updating.
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
Stephen Simpson
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very solid, very thorough recounting of this key battle, including the immediate lead-up and aftermath. While there is a tremendous amount of "they went here and did this", it doesn't generally get bogged down. A few more illustrations/battle maps would have been helpful, but most readers should be able to follow the flow of battle in their head.

The book dealt a lot with the personalities, interactions, and foibles of the men who led the troops. If you want a soldier's view/perspective, you won
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war, reviewed
Gettysburg by Sears is a military study of the Gettsyburg Campaign, beginning just after the Battle of Chancellorsville and ending with the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River in mid-July 1863.

The strengths of the book - or maybe more accurately my prior weaknesses - come prior to the battle and after the battle.

Sears does a good job of explaining Lee's sales pitch to President Davis for a Northern Invasion. Lee desires to go on the offensive in order to regain st
Michael Kleen
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Gettysburg, Stephen W. Sears charts the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 to July 24, 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North during the American Civil War. The campaign culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, in which approximately 48,000 Americans became casualties. In the end, nothing was gained except these men added to the casualties rolls.

No two armies could have been more similar and yet more different than the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern
Larry Bassett
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history, war
This book is fairly recent and the blurb says if you’re going to read one book about Gettysburg this should be the book! But I’ve got to say that reading verbal descriptions of battle maneuvering has got to be the dullest thing in the world. The reader was pretty good and it really did make you think that he was maybe just sitting there and chatting with you about a war story. And there were a few sides about personalities. But mostly there were just battle descriptions in a way that I just can’ ...more
Daniel Woodworth
This is, I'd argue, an exceptionally well-written and gripping account of the battle, but the author's pronounced negative view toward a few generals (Kilpatrick and Howard, notably) is distracting whether or not it's justified.

(Curiously enough, Sears seems to dislike Howard more than Sickles - odd because in a contest for worst corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, the options are just "Sickles" seven times)

I'd also add here that if you want a somewhat shorter treatment of the battle wit
Ben Vogel
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best single volume work on Gettysburg I have read. Sears really is a great writer. I enjoyed how he has put focus on areas and aspects that other historians have not, and ignored some of the narrower focus that other authors have felt compelled to emphasize following the success of The Killer Angels. (No slam against that terrific novel, only that those who know only a little about Gettysburg believe that it was all won or lost by Chamberlain at Little Round Top.)
Raimo Wirkkala
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is superb history-writing. Sears has command of the subject and draws the reader in, from the outset, with his introductions of the players, the unveiling of the plot and, only then, drawing back the curtain on one of history's dramatic pivot-points.
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of Gettysburg. The first part of the book describes the events leading to Gettysburg and the last part describes the aftermath. The majority, of course describes the three day battle with great detail. Many parts made you feel as if you were there. The descriptions of the residents' reactions and participation were particularly interesting to me. The devastation was gruesome. ...more
Michael Brooks
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A riveting and eye opening account. Superbly written with immense insights into the decisions and tactics of both armies. As well as a highlight the strange and repeated errors of Lee and his generals.
Steve Rice
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this book as preparation for next week’s trip to Gettysburg. This was an excellent journey from the events that led to the two armies finding themselves in Gettysburg and choosing that place to fight, through the aftermath of the battle and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Sears lays out an almost minute by minute account of the three days of fighting. He seasons the narrative with a healthy dose of first hand accounts, and his own analysis. All in all, a great textbook on Gettysburg that read ...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
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
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
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
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Vintage Sears! This is an excellent account of the Battle of Gettysburg, and one that will appeal to those just becoming interested in the American Civil War, to dyed-in-the-wool military history buffs. I very much enjoyed Stephen Sears' take on describing this immense struggle between Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his veteran Army of Northern Virginia, and Union Major General George G. Meade and the Army of the Potomac. Sears has a knack for telling the whole story from the perspective ...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. ...more
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.
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
  • The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville
  • Battle Cry of Freedom
  • Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy, #1)
  • Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson
  • Gettysburg--The Second Day
  • Sherman's March
  • Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause
  • A Blaze of Glory (Civil War: 1861-1865, Western Theater, #1)
  • The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
  • Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage
  • Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy
  • A Bridge Too Far
  • The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
  • Gettysburg (Gettysburg, #1)
  • An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1)
  • The Glorious Cause
  • The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2)
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

The Great Migration was the movement of six million African Americans out of the South to urban areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and West between...
45 likes · 4 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Harvey Hill expressed no regrets for his mulishness and no sympathy for what Lee was seeking to accomplish. “Genl. Lee is venturing upon a very hazardous movement,” he told his wife; “and one that must be fruitless, if not disastrous.” 1 likes
“the Federal left, were undertaken by” 0 likes
More quotes…