Cain at Gettysburg

Ralph Peters, 1952-

Book - 2012

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War stories
New York : Forge 2012.
1st ed
Item Description
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Physical Description
429 p. : maps ; 25 cm
Main Author
Ralph Peters, 1952- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Peters' Civil War mysteries written under the name of Owen Parry established that he knew his way around the Civil War. But they did not prepare readers for a novel of the Battle of Gettysburg that surpasses Michael Shaara's classic The Killer Angels.The novel begins with the campaign well underway, with Lee ruminating on tactics and Meade being awakened to discover that he now commands the Army of the Potomac. The foci, then, become multiple, as we shift from the commanders down to the rank and file of two regiments, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina and the German American Twenty-Sixth Wisconsin (a long-overdue portrayal of the much-derided German immigrant soldiers). Both are practically slaughtered on the first day, and on the second, Meade has to repair the damage caused by Dan Sickles' almost criminal stupidity. The body count mounts with grim steadiness, although the grimmest moment involves only two casualties—a North Carolinian who commits suicide over the loss of his twin brother and an innocent bystander shot in the groin by the same bullet. After that, even Pickett's charge is almost an anticlimax, although it is a brilliant portrayal of how the Confederate infantry felt marching forward, hit both in front and in flank by Union general Henry Hunt's well-placed artillery. In fact, brilliant is an adjective one is tempted to wear out in describing this book, because so little of it falls below that level. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cain slew only his brother Abel in the Bible, but in this gritty, moody retelling of America's bloodiest domestic battle, everyone is Cain. The story arc covers the six days of the convergence of the Union and Confederate armies at Gettysburg. Peters (The Officers' Club) switches his narrative back and forth between grunt and general, between Rebel and Yankee, giving a variety of personal responses to the battle preparations and their execution. Although the war is brutal, Peters goes overboard in spots in his effort to convey how crude life on the battlefield and in 1863 America really was. The personality quirks assigned to the generals make one wonder how even Robert E. Lee made it as far as this pivotal moment, let alone his assistants and opponents. VERDICT The best work of fiction about Gettysburg remains Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels. Peters's latest novel will have some short-lived interest among Civil War buffs, but it is too introspective and too raw in many places to make it worth rereading.—W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ [Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Peters (The Officers' Club) uses the same structure as Michael Shaara's 1974 Civil War classic The Killer Angels to depict the seven crucial days before, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. In this compelling tale of men at war, Peters weaves fictionalized accounts of actual Confederate and Union officers (including Robert E. Lee, George Meade, James Longstreet, and Dan Sickles), with stories of the privates, corporals, and sergeants who slaughtered each other in an orgy of blood, gore, suffering, heroism, and villainy. Lee's stubborn hubris overrode all tactical sense, resulting in a colossal blunder, while Meade didn't want command of the Union army, but turned out to be the first Yank to beat Lee in a fight. The generals bicker, argue, and worry, making decisions that will cost thousands of lives. Meanwhile, the soldiers endure hunger, thirst, fatigue, illness, and injury only to face a firestorm of rifle bullets, exploding artillery shells, and grim work with the bayonet. Peters's colorful depictions of harsh army life and the utter chaos of battles are accurate and convincing, revealing that there's no idealism on the battlefield, just men doing gruesome and frightening work. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The best-selling author of The War After Armageddon presents a reimagining of the pivotal Civil War battle from the perspectives of a Blue Ridge Confederate sergeant, a bitter survivor of the Great Famine in Ireland and a German political refugee.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Winner of the American Library Association's W. Y. Boyd Award for Excellence in Military FictionTwo mighty armies blunder toward each other, one led by confident, beloved Robert E. Lee and the other by dour George Meade. They'll meet in a Pennsylvania crossroads town where no one planned to fight.In this sweeping, savagely realistic novel, the greatest battle ever fought on American soil explodes into life at Gettysburg. As generals squabble, staffs err. Tragedy unfolds for immigrants in blue and barefoot Rebels alike. The fate of our nation will be decided in a few square miles of fields.Following a tough Confederate sergeant from the Blue Ridge, a bitter Irish survivor of the Great Famine, a German political refugee, and gun crews in blue and gray, Cain at Gettysburg is as grand in scale as its depictions of combat are unflinching.For three days, battle rages. Through it all, James Longstreet is haunted by a vision of war that leads to a fateful feud with Robert E. Lee. Scheming Dan Sickles nearly destroys his own army. Gallant John Reynolds and obstreperous Win Hancock, fiery William Barksdale and dashing James Johnston Pettigrew, gallop toward their fates….There are no marble statues on this battlefield, only men of flesh and blood, imperfect and courageous. From New York Times bestselling author and former U.S. Army officer Ralph Peters, Cain at Gettysburg is bound to become a classic of men at war.