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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,093 ratings  ·  279 reviews
From the acclaimed Civil War historian, and coinciding with the 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 ...more
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,093 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This just may be the best book about Gettysburg I’ve ever read. Guelzo’s account is extremely readable and very entertaining. Guelzo’s analysis is a little different than what has been rehashed for that past 150 years. Guelzo challenges and debunks common beliefs such as Little Round Top was the lynchpin of the Union Line and that it was Richard Ewell’s fault that the Confederates didn’t take Cemetery Hill the first day or that Lee had no intelligence due to Jeb Stuart's ride, or Hancock organiz ...more
Steven Peterson
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Steven Z.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Steven Walle
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a faboulas book. I will give you all a full review shortly.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Summary: An account of the three day battle at Gettysburg, the personalities, key turning points, battlefield topography, and movement by movement narratives that both zoom out and come up close in describing the unfolding of the battle.

There are scores of accounts of the confrontation between Union and Confederate forces for a three day battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3, 1863. Allen C. Guelzo's account, written on the 150th anniversary of the battle has to rank among the best. Guelzo
Robin Friedman
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Michael Stach
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Mark Jr.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, audio, library-book
Four-score and seven hours ago I started this massive book, and I'm already done. That's testimony to Guelzo's skill. His command of the details is incredible, of course, but it's his insightful asides, his beautiful and often biblical turns of phrase (Lee wanted to "turn and rend" the Union army), and his mature assessments of long ago controversies that make me value him as a writer.
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
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Judy Paskal
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The theatrical cut of Ron Maxwell’s 1993 epic ‘Gettysburg’ is a hair over four hours long. It presents to an acceptable standard some of the highlights of that battle 155 years ago. Major characters and their burdens, as well as the personal stakes of the battle, are vividly described. What that film does not present, however, is an enormous amount of information. Allen Guelzo’s book magisterially describes this battle and how it came to be, how it was executed, and the consequences of the Confe ...more
Bill S.
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Hank Pharis
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I have not read any other books on Gettysburg specifically but its hard to imagine one better than this.
Michael Kleen
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (2013) by Allen Guelzo 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, the two armies settled into camps in roughly the same place they started.

The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 covers the march to Gettysburg, and the oth
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clear, authoritative, balance and readable, Allen Guelzo has given as a helpful addition to the literature surrounding the last invasion by the South of the Civil War. Guelzo is a natural choice for this task. He is a professor of Civil War Era history at Gettysburg College and his personal knowledge of both the ground and the town help tell the story. This is a comprehensive treatment of the battle that includes a brief summary of both the state of the American Army before the war and the progr ...more
Michael Carlson
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read several books about the battle (Gettysburg is where I went to college), this is perhaps the best. Guelzo, more than others I've read, delves into the political, geographical, tactical and strategic factors in the invasion. He makes a strong case (or suggestion) that Meade intended to withdraw after the second day, only to be overruled by his commanders and that Meade assumed Pickett's charge would be successful so, rather than hailing his troops, he was preparing his reserve artiller ...more
Julian Douglass
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
What an amazing and detailed account of the Battle of Gettysburg. Mr. Guelzo gives us almost a minute by minute account of the battle, not only with vivid clarity, but with good analysis and is able to use what is going on in the rest of the world in the context of the battle as well. Very detailed, but not hard to read and doesn't use to much military lingo to make the book too hard to understand. Good job, solid read.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth reading, it looked at strategies and goals of both sides, and delved into the command conflicts that drove the battle.

I was reminded how close the Union came to losing, especially on the 2nd day, that's something I often forget. Maybe Longstreet's successes in the center will stick with me from now on.

Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
An exceptional tomb, covering every possible aspect of the battle: it’s context in the war, the preceding campaigns, the preceding days, all the various events, the immediate aftermath, and the broader picture of the war (and our nation).

The author works like an artist, painting a picture of specific events with an amalgam of historical record and multitudes of quotes from diaries, letters and various writings of those in the thick of it.

Having visited Gettysburg several times, read numerous boo
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of Civil War histories; not as many as a true historian, but enough to count as a well-read Civil War buff. After all of those books one of the highest compliments I can pay "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" is that I learned much new information. I hoped this book would be good; it was fantastic.

Before I give this volume a "highly recommended for everyone" recommendation let me say that this is primarily a military history. You must be able to cope with companies, regiments, bri
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
With the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg rapidly approaching (July 1-3, 2013), I recently picked up a copy of Allen Guelzo's new account of the battle, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. This book is pretty well written (well, as well as an account of a battle can be written, I guess), and actually does provide some new information. I learned that Union Major General Oliver Otis Howard's role in 'saving-the-day' has largely been understated. Early on during the fighting on July 1, 1863 ...more
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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.
“This was, after all, an army whose cause was inextricably bound up with the defense of black enslavement.” 0 likes
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