Sunday, July 08, 2007

CWL ---- Pivotal Battles: Ed Bearrs' Tour Guide

Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War, Edwin C. Bearrs, National Geographic Publishing, 464 pp., 19 maps, 80 illustrations., hardcover $28.00, paperback

A very readable text with sufficient maps and illustrations, Ed Bearrs 'Fields of Honor' recalls to mind the several tours of Gettysburg I've had with the author as the guide. This book is a wonderful coverage of some fine tours but what it is not, and what it does not intend to be, is an exhaustive story of campaigns. 'Fields of Honor' is best read before a visit to one of the battlefields covered in the text. Fourteen battlefields are toured; but everyone has their own list of 'turning points' and a few expected battles aren't on the editors' list.

The Blue Gray Education Society taped the audio portion of the former Chief Historian of the National Park Service tours. Friends of Bearrs transcribed, edited and added paragraphs that are shown in italics in the text. This lends itself to reading a text with two voices and at times is jarring to both the ear and eye.

The NPS' current historian emeritus, Bearss leads tours of America's battlefields more than 300 days per year. I am thinking that Ed Bearrs has been on 90% of all Civil War battlefields and that at some point there will be a sequel to this volume.

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