I have reviewed one or two books on Amazon and, as an enthusiast, have given a couple "five stars". The problem with this is when you hit a book like this one. Five stars just aren't enough.
This is the best battle history I've ever read; it's probably the best work of military history I've ever read (and there's been a few). Sears takes you into the mind of the combatants during Chancellorsville and explains lucidly why they did what they did. This battle has had a few volumes on it - mostly sharply critical of the Union commander Joe Hooker, mostly based on some well-chosen phrases from disgruntled Union officers. Sears unpicks that carefully woven fabric of falsehood, though also shows why Hooker failed.
Perhaps the emphasis is more on the North with Robert E Lee shown as a courageous commander whose splitting of forces and flank attacks are, really, more to the Union plan than his own. This is not to belittle Lee, but does provide some well-needed balance from the hyperbole of many writers about Chancellorsville.
on 16 September 2014
As a newbie to the readings of the civil war (3yrs worth) I wanted to learn more about the individual battles, I read so many reviews as to how good a certain book is that it's hard to miss that accounts are copy pasted book to book. However, this book is actually very good if you have a very keen interest. No so if you are not into actual detail of what took place. This account is very well written, objective and easy to understand. Like all war the book sets the scene of luck and misfortune on both sides which could have turned the battle...
on 20 August 2015
Stephen Sears is, in my opinion, a master of bringing complex characters and events to life. He turns the likes of "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee and "Fighting Joe" Hooker into real people and helps to understand what it must have been like for the private soldier to endure the absolute horror of the Civil War.
on 27 March 2013
Stephen W. Sears is a great writer and who will read this book, he will understand it ! Indeed he tells you the story without a preconceived idea, but with a great historical research and a deep psychological examination of the men involved in such a fight he is able to make you understand how and why everything happened in that way. He is able with very few words to make understand the true character of the participants to this battle , about Howard (the commander of the Eleventh Corps destroyed in the battle and that fled at Gettysburg) he writes:" Howard was a West Pointer and courageous enough but he was not strong willed and forceful in command. Howard's passion was religious ortodoxy...All in all...The Eleventh Corps would go in campaign under a general it neither liked nor trusted".
Chancellorsville has been, on my opinion, the brightest Confederate victory , the Robert E. Lee's masterpiece, Indeed, outnumbered two to one Lee violated the cardinal rule of military strategy, diving his own army in face of the enemy, sending Stonewall Jackson's Corps onn his famous twelve-mile march around the Union flank.
This book is based on personal accounts by soldiers on both sides and this makes you feel the smell of the powder.
if you are passionated about the American Civil War or you want to know everything the battle that made possible for the Confederate Army to try again to invade the North, you have to read this book