Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Booknotes (June '15)

New Arrivals:

1. The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864 by Sean Michael Chick (Potomac Books, 2015).

Gettysburg students are rewarded every year but the Sesquicentennial has been Christmas to Petersburg students. The latest fine looking volume to appear is Sean Chick's highly detailed account of the series of Union attempts to capture Petersburg when it was most vulnerable in early summer 1864 at the end of the Overland Campaign. Chick "takes an in-depth look at an important battle often overlooked by historians and offers a new perspective on why the Army of the Potomac’s leadership, from Grant down to his corps commanders, could not win a battle in which they held colossal advantages. He also discusses the battle’s wider context, including politics, memory, and battlefield preservation."

2. Lee's Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh (Westholme Pub, 2015).

Leigh provocatively reappraises twelve Civil War controversies, scandals, and what-ifs, among them his opinions as to the greatest blunder made by each side, whether sending a warship instead of an unarmed steamer to relieve Sumter might have nipped the war in the bud, the Lincoln-McClellan relationship, the choice of Sherman over Thomas to lead the western army group in spring 1864, the Chase-Sprague marriage, and more.

3. The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln's Greatest Speech edited by Sean Conant (Oxford UP, 2015).

A collection of essays, "the volume first identifies how Lincoln was influenced by great thinkers on his own path toward literary and oratory genius. Among others, Nicholas P. Cole draws parallels between the Address and classical texts of Antiquity, and Craig L. Symonds explores Daniel Webster's influence." Other chapters "include Louis P. Masur on the role the Address played in eventual emancipation; Jean H. Baker on the speech's importance to the women's rights movement; and Don H. Doyle on the Address's international legacy."

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