Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Fate of War: Fredericksburg, 1862, Duane Schultz, Westholme Publishing, endnotes, bibliography, index, 306 pp., 35 illustrations, 4 maps, 2011, $28.00.

The Battle of Fredericksburg [December 1863] is often reduced to the gallantry of the Federal assaults on the stonewall at the foot of Marye's Heights. Recently through, the work of scholars including National Park rangers have provided a more detailed research on both the entire battlefield and the city of Fredericksburg. Duane Schultz's The Fate of War: Fredericksburg 1862 provides an entry point to other stories of the battlefield and the town.

Schultz offers human interest stories to propel his account forward. The Fate of War's Prologue provides an example. Near the stonewall Sgt. Thomas Plunkett's are torn from his body by an exploding shell and in the battle damaged tow Clara Barton offers aid  aid to soldiers. Newspaper correspondent Murat Halstead writes to the Cincinnati Commercial a story of soldiers' valor.  Succinct biographies are used throughout establish the background to the battle and to propel the story through the winter of 1863.  The motivations, passions, and emotions of the soldiers and civilians are reveal in their letters, diaries, and memoirs. Bibliographic notes are not numbered but organized by chapters and pages.  Westholme Publishing often takes care with its books' spines and binding. The Fate of War is no exception. The book is comfortable to hold and the pages fall open easily. The Fate of War is accessible to high school students and readers in general. 

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