Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg, The Illustrated Edition

By James M. McPherson

In 2003 Crown Publishing released “Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg,” written by James M. McPherson, the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.”

Having over the years led countless tours of Gettysburg National Military Park, Dr. McPherson leads his readers on a tour of the battlefield, stopping at Seminary Ridge, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top, as well as many other key sites related to the pivotal battle which in conjunction with the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi marked a turning point in the American Civil War.  McPherson reflects on the meaning of the battle and sets Battle of Gettysburg in its proper context in American and World history, while describing the action of the battle at each site. He debunks many popular myths about the battle, and relays stories of his own encounters.

Zenith Press has recently given Dr. McPherson’s text a bit of a facelift with its new release of “Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg – The Illustrated Edition,” enhancing it with period photographs, color photographs (many of which are modern photographs of the battlefield and its monuments), maps, paintings and illustrations.  Many of the books photographs and artwork consume an entire page and sometimes even a two-page spread.  Zenith Press transformed McPherson’s 2003 book from its original 144 page, 5.2 x 7.9 x 0.6 inch size to a 9.6 x 11.2 x 0.9 inch coffee table book of 224 pages. The illustrated edition has given more depth to McPherson’s original text, and in the process has made a beautiful book just to sit and thumb through.

McPherson is often accused of resting on the laurels he received for “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” by writing “popular history” books for eager readers who will buy his books; that his books forgo historical detail and new research, to appeal to a wider and more general reading audience.  Even the topic of Gettysburg can set some academically minded reader’s eyes spinning to the back of their heads.  With hundreds of titles dedicated to the three-day battle of July 1st – 3rd, 1863 why do we need yet another book on Gettysburg.  Indeed there is some validity in both arguments, but Dr. McPherson knows his audience, and as long as there are people willing to buy books about the Battle of Gettysburg, there will be people who will write them.  Putting James M. McPherson’s cachet as one of this country’s greatest historians together with Gettysburg as a topic seems like a win-win scenario for publishers, and making an illustrated edition is a brilliant marketing strategy.

ISBN 978-0760347768, Zenith Press, © 2015, Hardcover, 224 glossy pages, Photographs & Illustrations, Maps, & Index. $35.00.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

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