Book review: So You Think You Know Gettysburg?

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, authors James and Suzanne Gindlesperger have written what will surely become one of the more popular books for tourists to take home after their visits to the Gettysburg National Military Park. When I am sitting in Gettysburg’s bookshops for my frequent autograph / book signing sessions, I often overhear people discussing which book they should purchase to take home to show their friends and families what they had seen on their battlefield visit, and there have been a few good choices in the past that have been representative.  Now, the Gindlespergers’ colorful new book, So You Think You Know Gettysburg? The Stories Behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America’s Most Epic Battles, has been added to the line-up of titles that I will point out to the inquirers.

Filled with visually appealing photographs of the battlefield, monuments, buildings, and town, the book is laid out in a format that facilitates taking it along on battlefield tramping expeditions. Detailed maps (with exact GPS coordinates) show the location where each picture was taken, making the book useful as a driving tour guide. Each photo is accompanied by a brief passage that explains the history of the subject matter. None of these story lines are detailed, nor are they supposed to be, but collectively they give the reader a good overview of the highlights of the Gettysburg experience.

While this book has obvious appeal to the casual Gettysburg visitor, there is some relatively obscure information that will be of interest to more seasoned buffs, such as the brief story of John Congdon of the 10th New York Cavalry, who in December 1861 fell from the roof of a train passing through the area, and thus became the first Civil War soldier killed at Gettysburg.

In a size, format, and price that are appealing, So You Think You Know Gettysburg? is a book that should be a part of your collection if you enjoy touring the Gettysburg National Military Park and the town. While not nearly as detailed or comprehensive as J. David Petruzzi and Steve Stanley’s landmark 2009 book The Complete Gettysburg Guide (which stands alone at the very top of the list of battlefield guidebooks), this new work will find its niche in popularity and appeal.  It’s well worth the money, and is laid out well with some very nice photographs.

* CLICK HERE to read my recent interview with the Gindlespergers!

James and Suzanne Gindlesperger

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? The Stories Behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America’s Most Epic Battles

John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem NC, 2010

188 pages, soft bound, illustrated with maps.

ISBN 978-0-89587-374-3

$18.95 list price, discounted on amazon.com and other on-line retailers

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Categories: Civil War books, Gettysburg | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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