Ever since the guns of Gettysburg fell silent in July 1863, and Lincoln stepped away from his two-minute speech on the same battleground four months later, the story of this three-day conflict has become an American legend, a cultural icon. American memory has established Gettysburg as the greatest, biggest, most important, most heroic, most savage, bloodiest battle this nation has ever fought. It has become our Waterloo, our battle of Marathon, our siege of Troy. The soldiers who fought there have become heroes in our national pantheon: They fought the hardest, endured the worst, and achieved the most, nothing less than saving the United States from self-destruction. Gettysburg has become the defining conflict in our history.How did the story of Gettysburg evolve? How did the battle become a legend? And how much truth is behind the myth? Thomas A. Desjardin, a prominent Civil War historian and keen cultural observer, shows how flawed our knowledge of this enormous event has become, and why that has happened. It is, in effect, the extraordinary biography of a story-the story of Gettysburg. It also shows how Americans have shaped, used, altered, and sanctified our national memory, fashioning the story of Gettysburg as a reflection of, and testimony to, our culture and our nation.
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Thomas A. Desjardin holds a Ph.D. in American History and has been an archivist and historian for the National Park Service at Gettysburg. He is currently Historic Site Specialist for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and is a frequent television commentator on Civil War topics.From AudioFile:
Another work about Gettysburg? Yes, but with a twist. In this title the emphasis is on how the story of the battle has come down to us. The author examines how many of the stories about the battle, such as the belief that the Confederates were looking for shoes, just are not true. (There was not a shoe factory there at the time of the battle.) We find many instances of how participants in the post-war years fabricated incidents to make their own actions more laudable. (For example, Jubal Early's account of the order that was given to Longstreet by Lee early on the morning of July 2--no such order was given.) We find that these myths even change from era to era, but all have made the battle into, as the author notes, our "Valhalla." Lewis Grenville reads this fascinating work with an easy-going style. His voice is comfortable with the text and his delivery clear. M.T.F. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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