NR Digital

A New Birth

by Mackubin Thomas Owens
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf, 632 pp., $35)

Gettysburg remains the greatest clash of arms ever to occur in North America. It is also the most studied battle in American history. In 1900, a historian remarked that “another history of Gettysburg may seem superfluous and presumptuous.” Nonetheless, every year, new books are published on it. A 2004 bibliography lists 6,193 books, articles, chapters, and pamphlets.

In recent times, many of these studies have been micro-histories that divide the battle into days, parts of days, or particular clashes on a specific piece of terrain, e.g., Little Round Top. This trend confirms James McPherson’s observation that historians are tending to write “more and more about less and less.” There have also been some fine recent studies of the Gettysburg campaign as a whole, the most recent of which is Allen C. Guelzo’s contribution to the battle’s sesquicentennial.

Send a letter to the editor.