Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground

Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground

by Jeff Shaara

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Jeff Shaara, America’s premier Civil War novelist, gives a remarkable guided tour of the ten Civil War battlefields every American should visit: Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, New Market, Chickamauga, the Wilderness/Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg/Appomattox. Shaara explores the history, the people, and the places that capture the true meaning and magnitude of the conflict and provides

• engaging narratives of the war’s crucial battles
• intriguing historical footnotes about each site
• photographs of the locations–then and now
• detailed maps of the battle scenes
• fascinating sidebars with related points of interest

From Antietam to Gettysburg to Vicksburg, and to the many poignant destinations in between, Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields is the ideal guide for casual tourists and Civil War enthusiasts alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345493842
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/25/2006
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 228,832
File size: 20 MB
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About the Author

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of A Chain of Thunder, A Blaze of Glory, The Final Storm, No Less Than Victory, The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure—two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father’s Pulitzer Prize–winning classic, The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Gettysburg.


Kalispell, Montana

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1952

Place of Birth:

New Brunswick, New Jersey


B.S. in Criminology, Florida State University, 1974

Read an Excerpt

In the summer of 1964, a twelve-year-old boy followed his father across a mile of open grassy fields that separated the Union and Confederate lines at Gettysburg. They walked in the footsteps of the men who crossed this same ground on July 3, 1863, Confederate soldiers who made one of the most tragic attacks in our history. Today, we know that event as “Pickett’s Charge.” As they stepped through the tall grass, the father told the boy the story of what had happened there, who those men were, why they made this extraordinary attack. The father often told stories to the boy, usually about things the boy knew something about: science fiction, sports. But this was different; this was about history.
When the father led his son up and over the low stone wall that marked the position of the Union front line, the father told more of the story. He told the boy about two men, best friends, Lewis Armistead and Winfield Hancock, who had chosen to part ways before the war, each one fighting for something very different, yet each one fighting for what he believed in. But on this day in 1863, the two men would come together again, Armistead leading his men across this field straight into Hancock’s guns. The story captured the boy, because the father told it as though he were there, could see it, could hear the guns, and he told the story with the passion the father brought to all his stories. But then the father was silent. The boy saw now that the father’s attention had been captured by a low squat stone marker, against which lay a single miniature Confederate flag. In the silence, the boy read the inscription on the marker, which noted the place where Confederate general Lewis Armistead had fallen on that July day in 1863. Then the boy realized that his father was crying.
That boy was me. My father, Michael Shaara, was so inspired by the experience of walking the ground at Gettysburg that he spent the next seven years writing a novel about what happened there. That novel, published in 1974, was titled The Killer Angels.
In my father’s lifetime, The Killer Angels was never a particularly successful book. That may sound odd, considering that in 1975 the book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. But the book made very little impact, except on those who studied the American Civil War or those in some branches of the military, who had begun to use the book as a guide to understanding the tactics and leadership abilities of the men who were so pivotal to the story. My father went on to write more books, more short stories, none of them having anything to do with history or the American Civil War. Until the end of his life, he never saw any of his books become best sellers and never saw the creation of a motion picture based on his work. The Killer Angels had become something of a sad footnote for him, a truly marvelous award-winning book that had failed to find the audience even he felt it deserved.
Michael Shaara died in 1988, believing he had failed to do the one thing that meant more to him than anything else in his forty-year career as a writer. He believed he had failed to leave something behind, something for which he would be remembered. He had failed to leave a legacy.
He was wrong.
What followed over the next several years was an amazing series of circumstances that changed my life and cemented my father’s reputation and legacy for all time. It began with Ken Burns’s PBS series The Civil War, which seemed to wake the American people to renewed interest in that era of our history. Two years later, Ted Turner took an enormous chance and in 1992 financed the production of a major motion picture that was based on my father’s book. It was called Gettysburg. In October 1993, the release of the film helped propel The Killer Angels to number one on the New York Times Best Seller List, the first time any of my father’s books had received such significant recognition. Five years after his death, his legacy was alive and well.
My father had proven that an audience for this kind of story did in fact exist. And so, the son has followed the father. As a result, The Killer Angels is now the centerpiece of a trilogy of novels, something that still amazes me and would have absolutely floored my father.
With every book I’ve done, the research is the energy behind the story, and the energy behind the research has come from walking in the footsteps of the characters. Often those footsteps are difficult to find. A great many sites from the American Revolution and the Civil War have simply disappeared, swallowed up by time and by the need for Americans to expand and modernize their world. But special places remain, and over the past century, movements have begun to protect that ground from obliteration, to preserve at least some tangible part of our past. Museums are well and good, and safekeeping the artifacts of an earlier time may teach us much about the people who gave us our world. But museums are not the ground, just as a zoo is not the jungle.
“Hallowed ground” is a phrase that is often tossed off as something of a cliché, but those who would lightly regard Abraham Lincoln’s description of Gettysburg are missing the point. Diaries, letters, memoirs, and even photographs have little resonance if we cannot see where an event occurred. If we erase the ground, the hillsides and valleys, the creek beds and rivers, the trench lines and earthworks, then we lose the spirit of our history. We lose the ability to walk in the footsteps, to see what the world looked like to those people who changed our history. No writer can give that to us with as much poignancy as we will find when we walk that ground and see it for ourselves.
This book may not resemble any battlefield guidebook you have ever seen before. That’s the point. My attempt here is to paint a portrait of ten specific sites that offer the best interpretation and experience to the visitor, who may not already know every tidbit of historical detail of what happened there. In other words, this book is intended not for the academic historian, but for the curious, those who might have time to stop along the road and visit a battlefield they otherwise might have passed by. The chapters are arranged chronologically, so as to offer some flow to the history of the entire war. If you have some knowledge of the events, if you are something of a Civil War “buff,” then perhaps this book will encourage you to visit a site you may not have seen before. It may also inspire you to argue with some of my conclusions. Unlike the historian, who has to abide by certain restrictive rules as to his commentary, I offer a few interpretations that some of you may not agree with. As it should be.
I could have included several more chapters, gone over several more valuable fields, but I wanted to keep this somewhat compact. If you wonder why certain battlefields were left out (and some of you will most certainly wonder), it is not my intention to dismiss or ignore any park where history is well preserved. Examples not included in this book will surprise (and annoy) some: Manassas, Stone’s River, Pea Ridge, Fort Donelson, Andersonville, Fort Sumter, among many others. My choices are meant to carry you through some of the most poignant events of our history, by taking you to magnificent places where, if you visit, you will take away something enormously valuable from the experience.
When this book is published, I am making a significant financial contribution to a good many of the battlefield preservation groups whose responsibility it is to preserve and protect these invaluable sites. Those contributions will continue to be made, from a percentage of the sales of this book, for as long as anyone buys it. I respect passion and dedication to a cause, and the people who give so much of themselves to the preservation of these critical historical sites must be supported. “Causes” stare us in the face from every direction, and most of us are bombarded by requests for money: in the mail, in our offices, on television, in our e-mail. If you agree with me about the value of preserving the shrinking and threatened historical sites in this country, then I hope you will respond appropriately. Regardless, the purpose of this book is to show you what happened there, why it was important, and how you can experience some part of that yourself. In the end, I’m simply hoping that this book may inspire more parents to lead their children across some extraordinary piece of ground. Perhaps their lives will be changed as well.
Jeff Shaara
April 2006

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Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
MSaff More than 1 year ago
"Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields", is a must for anyone interested in the American Civil War and it's history. Jeff Shaara has taken up the mantle of research and discovery to bring all the information about the Civil War to those historians and history buffs alike. This book is broken down into 10 battles. Each battle is thoroughly discussed and includes the why's and where's the battles were fought. As you read through the sections, you can begin to understand what was going on a the time of the battle as well as understand what each commander was thinking during each battle. Falling each section Shaara describes points of interest for you as you go to these battlefields. Not only are the touristy points noted, but he points to some areas which may not be mentioned by tour guides and catalogs. What I learned while reading this book, was that not all the well known battles were on importance, but that there were many so called insignificant battles which actually had influenced the outcome of the war. As a history buff myself, I found this book extremely informative and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about some of the battles of the American Civil War.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently purchased this book and have not been disappointed. Having read the trilogy written by Schaara and his father about the Civil War, I was interested to see what this 'guide' would be like. The narrative of each battle is well written and gives a quick overview of a number of very important battles in the war. It also gives good information about the current preservation of the battlefields, and points out things you should see if visiting any of them. This was the first time that I had read about Shiloh, and some of the others, and it is an excellent place to start. I recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Shaara (and his father before him) is clearly a devotee of history and the Civil War in particular - just read his historical fiction. This book is an homage to some of the most significant major battles of the war, and is very well done. Not that there's any thing new or revealing in the research or descriptions of the battles - most of it is well-known (at least to others who are interested in the Civil War) but very clearly presented and well written. What makes this book good and better than many, is the sections at the end of each battle. First, Shaara takes the time to tell the reader why it was an important battle, putting the localized action into context of the entire war. And second, he provides a very personal guide to seeing the battlefield - not only what the reader should see, but some of his personal memories of seeing them. There are other books like this, some that are more scholarly and some that are more detailed in their treatment of battle details. But this book strikes an excellent balance among the elements.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For Civil War Buffs... it gives you a brief overview of each battle (which many of you may already know) ending each synopsis with information on what you should see at the battlefield and how to get to it. For those unfamiliar with the Civil War it allows you to understand the background of each battle, why it is important and highlights the important spots of the battlefield that Jeff thinks you should see. Very well written and captivating... a quick and easy read so buy another!
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Goldenpen More than 1 year ago
Having been accustomed to Shaar's style which captivates your attention, these very brief descriptions and outlines of the battlefields are no substitute to either a full tour guide or a novel on the battlefield. A guide should not be readable in less time than it takes to drive over the field.
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Old_Child More than 1 year ago
If you're going to visit Gettysburg, see the movie by that name that was based on the author's father's bestseller. Son has little to add.
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