Volume 3 of Russel Beatie's Army of the Potomac series, McClellan's First Campaign, finally arrived on the doorstep yesterday. I read the first chapter last night, but Dimitri has already been blogging about it (see here and here).
These books are so broad and deep that I almost despair of reconnecting the interwoven threads that become unravelled in the mind in the years since the previous volume's release. I have some problems with the two Da Capo published volumes and the earlier books have received some harsh reviews [perhaps most notably from John Hennessy and a more recent one by Ball's Bluff expert Jim Morgan], but nevertheless view the series as indispensable reading in spite of the flaws. I kind of like Dimitri's characterization of Beatie's books as director's cuts. Beatie's writing could be described as extended meandering to the point of self indulgence, but I prize the rather expansive 'mini-studies' that the author sprinkles throughout his books--narrative flow be damned. There are books within books here, perhaps some better than others, but it's all so fresh and absorbing that I don't want to miss any of it.