Noah Andre Trudeau is the author of Gettysburg. He has won the Civil War Round Table of New York's Fletcher Pratt Award and the Jerry Coffey Memorial Prize. A former executive producer at National Public Radio, he lives in Washington, D.C.
An executive producer for National Public Radio, Trudeau (Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War) opens his new book with no apologies, saying that the time is right for another comprehensive work on the Battle of Gettysburg. This book begins on May 15, 1863, and describes in minute detail the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself (often hour by hour), and Lee's retreat in the early hours of July 4. Trudeau skillfully intertwines his narrative with firsthand accounts using letters, diaries, memoirs, and after-action reports from local residents, soldiers, and officers. He offers new insights on familiar controversies such as Confederate General Ewell's role on the first day of fighting, Robert E. Lee's mood for battle, and Major General Meade's reluctance to fight. In addition, Trudeau unearths many little-known human interest stories and brings to light the trials and tribulations of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. The book includes 60 maps, a detailed roster of the opposing armies' command structure, and copious chapter notes. A monumental work, thoroughly researched and well written, this is the best recent single-volume history of the campaign. Highly recommended for Civil War enthusiasts and scholars. Robert K. Flatley, Frostburg State Univ., MD Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Making comprehensive and sophisticated use of a broad spectrum of archival and printed sources, NPR executive producer Trudeau (Bloody Roads South) enhances his reputation as a narrative historian of the Civil War with what is to date the best large-scale single-volume treatment of those crucial three days in July 1863, elegantly reconstructing the battle and the campaign from the perspectives of the participants. Trudeau allows them, from generals to enlisted men, to speak in their own words, creating a thoroughly absorbing story of determination on both sides and at all levels. Robert E. Lee began the campaign intending to win a battle of annihilation. July 1 inaugurated some of the hardest, and the most exacting, fighting American soldiers have ever done. The operational narratives are remarkable for their clarity, especially Trudeau's presentation of the confused fight for the Union left flank on July 2. The text is supplemented by sketch maps of unit positions and movements that are also models of clarity a particular boon to nonspecialist readers. Trudeau defensibly concludes that the wide latitude allowed subordinates at all levels of the Army of Northern Virginia worked against it at Gettysburg. Further, his emphasis on contemporary sources instead of postwar retrospection and academic analysis shows that despite nearly equal losses totaling almost 50,000 men Gettysburg failed as Lee's battle of annihilation. (July 1) Forecast: From Jeffry D. Wert's Gettysburg, Day 3 and Harry W. Pfanz's day-by-day accounts to Duane P. Schultz's The Most Glorious Fourth, there have been a slew of recent books on Gettysburg, not to mention renewed attention to Lincoln's Address. Publishing on the 139th anniversary of the battle's beginning, this book should get a boost from July 4 patriotism, and would nicely anchor a holiday display. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.