Sometimes it hits home…

The book by Eric Wittenberg and me has been garnering solid praise and positive reviews since its release a couple months ago.  Being this is my first book, I couldn’t be more flattered, nor more grateful for the appreciation for all the hard work and years we put into it.

All the reviews that have been in print thus far have been wonderful… Tom Ryan’s in the Washington Times, Michael Aubrecht’s in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, and some upcoming magazine reviews that I’ve been made aware of.  Another newspaper review from December 2 really hit home, because it was by a resident of the Hanover PA area, who is a die-hard Civil War student.  Hanover was the scene of the June 30, 1863 clash between Jeb Stuart and Judson Kilpatrick.  There are local groups that take their Hanover history seriously, and it was this particular review by one of them that really “hit home,” so to speak, because it made me feel that our book really hit home for Hanover, too.

The review was by none other than the Editor in Chief of the Hanover Evening Sun, Marc Charisse.  Marc, who is a son of the legendary Cyd Charisse, was married (I’m told) right on Little Round Top on the Gettysburg Battlefield.  That tops me – I proposed to my better half along Buford Avenue at the 6th New York Cavalry monument.  I had dinner with Marc and some mutual friends in Hanover last month, and at the time I knew neither his famous lineage or his wedding spot… wish I had!  We would have had more to talk about than the book…

Marc wrote a very positive review of the book for the newspaper.  With his permission, I will post some of it here:

My must-read stack has been piling up, but I’m glad I got to “Plenty of Blame to Go Around” before Christmas.
I’m only half way through the book, but I can already tell you it’s the perfect gift for the Civil War buffs on your list…
But Santa should bring anyone with even a passing interest in the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign and the battle of Hanover this new book on Confederate cavalier J.E.B. Stuart’s famous and controversial ride around the Union army…
As their title would suggest, the authors conclude Stuart isn’t solely to blame for the Confederate defeat (at Gettysburg)… The real value of the book – for those already familiar with the effects of Lost-Cause propoganda on Civil War history – is the excellent use of primary and secondary sources to tell the tale of the ride better than it’s been told before.
That ability to tell a good, historical story is especially evident in the chapters dealing with the battles at Hanover and Hunterstown… All the familiar stories of the Hanover battle are there: the brave stand of Maj. John Hammond and the 5th New York Cavalry and Stuart’s fabled escape from the Yankee horsemen, for example.  But the authors also add new details and new perspectives in the fight.  Rather than regarding Hanover as a Union victory, the authors see the battle as a lost opportunity for Union commander Judson Kilpatrick, who could have trapped and destroyed Stuart at Hanover.
It’s hard to disagree because the authors do such a good job of presenting the events as part of a larger campaign unfolding across southcentral Pennsylvania.
And readers should have no trouble grasping that big picture because the authors include an excellent detailed driving tour of Stuart’s ride as an appendix, letting you retrace history on your own.
Recent enough to include mention of Hanover’s new wayside battle markers, the book is sure to stimulate interest in local Civil War history.  And among locals, it offers insight into Hanover’s place in the larger 1863 campaign.

Marc, we can’t thank you enough for such a terrific review of our work, and it’s especially gratifying to come from such a knowledgable Hanoverian!  We sincerely hope that residents of the Hanover area, who maybe had little interest in the events of June and July 1863 before, will find something of value in our book.  If it indeed, as you say, sparks more interest in local history, then we have fulfilled our goal indeed.

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Published in: on December 12, 2006 at 4:25 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You two deserve all the praise you are recieving! Not because I know both of, but “Plenty of Blame” is easily one of the best Civil War books I’ve ever read.

  2. I’m very flattered by that, Mark – especially by one who is so well read!
    I was really touched by how the folks of Hanover have received the book, so I thought I’d indulge my readers and post the review. Really made me feel good.

    J.D.

  3. Excellent review. They just keep coming and coming. Better to crackin’ on the sequel boys. :)

  4. LOL, Mike, we are – Eric has started already, and I’m well on the way to completing a couple chapters.

    J.D.


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