As I look back on all the books I've profiled here in 2013, the one I'd most like to revisit is The Battle of the Wilderness by Gordon C. Rhea. I blogged about it back in January, and opened that post with this reflection:
Sometimes I think about the books I’ll read again when I’m retired and have all the free time in the world. The Leatherstocking Tales always come to mind when I do this—not in the order they were written, but in “chronological order” from when Natty is the youthful Deerslayer, on his first warpath, to when we bid farewell to him as an old man on the ever-advancing westward Prairie. Another is Gordon Rhea’s meticulous and superb series on Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign.
The Battle of the Wilderness is the first in that series, and there are three more that follow, taking us through the battles of Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, and Cold Harbor. In my opinion, they are all unique in their ability to simultaneously: (a) convey a great deal of detailed information about troop movements; (b) capture the perspectives of the individual soldiers fighting the battles; and (c) explain the strategy underlying it all and the thoughts going on in the heads of the commanding generals. Most battle narratives I’ve read focus on only one of these areas and give short shrift to the other two. Rhea consistently balances all three in works that are both scholarly and accessible to the average reader.
As you enjoy your holiday break, I hope you find some time to curl up with a good book. I know I will.
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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit www.ericlanke.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.