By Richard Sauers
There is no better way to learn about the Civil War than by visiting the numerous battlefields throughout the south and east on which it was fought. However, in these tough economic times travel can be expensive, and sometimes prohibitively so. Thankfully over the years several battlefield guidebooks have been published. Some are better than others, but all of them offer a low cost way to explore America’s Civil War battlefields; and the only travel needed to do so is a trip to your local bookstore or library.
Richard Sauers’ “Civil War Battlegrounds: The Illustrated History of the War's Pivotal Battles and Campaigns” is a recent addition to the battlefield guidebook genre. From the war’s beginning at Fort Sumter to its conclusion at Appomattox, Sauers visits a total of eighteen of the war’s most significant battlefields. Each battlefield sketch is accompanied by useful information for tourists: phone numbers, websites, hours of operation, admission fees, parking details and available tours and programs. Many sidebars appear throughout the book cover a variety of topics and trivia about the battles and their participants.
To call Sauers’ book a guidebook is a bit of an overstatement. The heavy use of modern and historic photographs, illustrations and works of art overpowers his sparse text, and the maps which are often too small to be accurately read only give the reader an impression of the action at large. To subtitle the book as “The Illustrated History of the War's Pivotal Battles and Campaigns” is also an overextension. A thumbnail sketch of each battle (in a relatively large font) gives a general overview of the action, but it is hardly would I would call a history of each battle.
“Civil War Battlegrounds” is not a book for serious students of the American Civil War, but it is a good tool to use when planning a battlefield visit. However, if a visit to a Civil War battlefield isn’t in your budget this year, it is a perfect book for those who are just beginning to explore this turbulent period in American History. And with its heavy use of photographs and illustrations it would also appeal to younger readers interested in history as well.
ISBN 978-0760344538, Zenith Press, © 2013, Paperback, 9.5 x 10 x 0.6 inches, 160 pages, Maps, Photographs and Illustrations & Index. $26.99. To purchase this book click HERE.