[ The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley (Savas Beatie, 2009). Hardcover, maps, biblography, index. 320 Pages. ISBN:9781932714630 $39.95 ]
Titular grand pronouncement aside, J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley's The Complete Gettysburg Guide is one of those rare books that meets or exceeds expectations in almost every regard.
Field trampers interested in walking the ground where the fighting occurred during the Gettysburg Campaign, from the smallest skirmish to the largest pitched battle, are in for a treat. In addition to the tours of the three days of fighting on the 'primary' battlefield immediately surrounding the town of Gettysburg, separate chapters are devoted to Brinkerhoff's Ridge, East Cavalry Field, Marsh Creek, Hunterstown, and Fairfield. The final third of the volume is devoted to town of Gettysburg, cemetery, hospital, and rock art guides.
The tours, penned by Petruzzi, are accompanied by the full range of photographs (modern and archival) and maps. The touring directions, helpfully secluded in green shaded boxes for quick access, are succinct and do include GPS coordinates. The narrative is equally pleasing for both field work and armchair reading. In terms of presentation, this full color volume is easily the most stylistically impressive Civil War volume from publisher Savas Beatie. The cartography of Steven Stanley is exceptional, never cheating on detail, from the regimental scale movements and picket line locations to the elevation contours and extensive inventory of natural and man-made terrain features. Not only does the owner of this book have a series of excellent touring guides, but also a top notch battlefield atlas (perhaps the best collection of Gettysburg maps anywhere in a single volume).
The material quality also matches the presentation. The book's sturdy construction and thick glossy paper should stand up to repeated use. Most guides are not annotated, and this one is no exception, but there is a full bibliography and index. Undoubtedly, obsessives can quibble here and there about what's 'missing', but this volume is likely to be the Gettysburg traveler's standard guidebook for the foreseeable future. The Complete Gettysburg Guide is easily the best, and most well rounded, book of its kind, and is a highly recommended addition to the bookshelf of any Gettysburg enthusiast (and we know there are a few of those).