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 Posted: Fri Jul 17th, 2009 01:30 am
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CleburneFan
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Just received my copy of Sickles at Gettysburg by James A. Hessler and published by Savas Beatie. The subtitle on the cover sums up rather well what Hessler says about the scoundrel Sickles. It calls Sickles--The controversial Civil War general who committed murder, abandoned Little Round Top and declared himself the hero of Gettysburg.

I've had the book only a day, so I  haven't even finsihed the first chapter. I just have to say this though. I found an egregious error right away.

The book places the Order of Battle of the Third Corps of the Army of the Potomac at the very front of the book. You'll never guess who is named as the commanding general of the AOTP. None other than George G. George! That's right, George G. George--not George G. Meade. I know this was just a proof reading error, and most books have a few, but how awkward is it that the error would be one that is so prominent.

Having gotten that problem out of the way, I have to congratulate Hessler for making a general who never interested me much seem compelling indeed. I knew he was a scoundrel, but had no idea just how low he had gone. I ahven't finsihed the first chapter, but it starts the book off witha bang. I'm convinced this will be great reading...a hard book to put down. 

Hessler is a Licensed Battlefield Guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park. He has taught courses about Sickles at the college level and speaks to Civil War Round Tables.

If you have any interest in Sickles or perhaps Day Two of the Gettysburg Battle , definitely check this book out.

P.S. Why did I order the book from Amazon if Sickles has turned me off. I have Susan Sweet to thank because she mentioned the book might be one of the upcoming chat books. So I looked it up and thought it did sound promising.



 Posted: Fri Jul 17th, 2009 11:20 am
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Naim Peress
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Unfortunately, that's the state of book editing these days. Editors rarely have the time to really work on a book these days. Literary agents do the bulk of the editing these days. Enjoy the book and perhaps let the group know how it is.



 Posted: Fri Jul 17th, 2009 08:51 pm
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mikenoirot
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CleburneFan,

I did not notice this typo.  I have completely read "Sickles at Gettysburg," and consider it a superlative narrative of Sickles' controversial life.  Not sure if you had seen my previous post, but I recently interviewed Jim on the Gettysburg Battlefield.  He is a top notch scholar and very knowledgable on Gettysburg.  Here is a link to my interview.

http://ThisMightyScourge.com/2009/07/05/interview-with-james-a-hessler-author-of-sickles-at-gettysburg/ 

 

 



 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 01:27 am
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CleburneFan
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Mike, I have listened to the first part and really enjoyed hearing how both you and Hessler became interested in the Civil War by different routes and also why Hessler chose to study and write about Sickles.

Like Hessler, I too prefer to read about the less saintly characters such as the cavalry general James Hugh Fitzpatrick, a favorite scamp of mine.  But for some reason, Sickles always seemed too much of a DOM for me to be comfortable reading about. I'm glad you asked Hessler which Civil War writers he admires and how he settled on the style for this book.

I will listen to a piece a day, maybe more if one is short. I'm through Chapter Two now of the book...up to where Sickles finally finagles a brigadier generalship. Your interviews make a really good companion-piece to the book and enhance it. Thanks for the heads up.

By the way, I am really enjoying this book and the way Hessler writes. He brings the characters to life.



 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 03:10 pm
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susansweet3
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The Book group which  meets on line Sunday night at 9 eastern time will read the Sickles book after we finish the A. P. Hill book we start tonight.  There is a chance the author will join us.

Susan



 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 07:51 pm
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SicklesatGB
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Hi CleburneFan and All,

As the author of Sickles at Gettysburg, needless to say your post caught my attention.

As a first-time author, I am thrilled to hear you say that you are enjoying the book despite your reservations on Sickles the individual. That was certainly a goal of mine going into this-- to get those who dislike Sickles to read and enjoy with an open mind.  

I also very much appreciate your comments on my "bringing the characters to life". As I noted in my interview with Michael, I wanted to let the participants speak as much as possible in order to make us readers better understand what the actual participants thought, saw, and said about their time at Gettysburg. In Sickles' case, what he said sometimes contradicted what he did, but that was part of the enjoyable challenge in sifting through the wreckage of Gettysburg's second day.

We have probably all read biographies where we came away thinking that we learned nothing about the people. Alot of biographies tell us WHAT people did, but not WHY. Or bios often fail to let us discover what kinds of people the subjects were. So I wanted to include commentary on who Sickles was--his speech patterns, his views on religion, alcohol, romances (of course), etc etc. 

Interestingly, some of the heaviest "flack" I have received has been regarding my view of Sickles' view on religion-- if he was "violently anti-Catholic" then why did he have that big Catholic funeral? (Sorry you'll have to read the last chapter to find that one out!)

Sigh....as far as typos....thanks for enthusiastically highlighting George George. :shock: Actually you haven't gotten to the chapter yet where Reynolds dies at the George George House and Mr. George takes command of the Army of the Potomac...

I can assure folks that ALOT of care and attention went into putting this book together. It wasn't a haphazard effort and hopefully that shows in the length, maps, photos, notes, dustjacket, etc. My editor and I went back and forth debating and dissecting several things and unfortunately it's a human process and mistakes happen on a deadline. Frankly, this book is longer and more complex than alot of what is being published today, so unfortunately that increases the odds of human error. In the case of the OOB, George George WAS caught in the editing process and someone :X neglected to change it. (Ironically, the OOB was included at the last minute at my insistence for the "convenience of the reader"!) But I'm generally pleased with the final product and thankfully the reviews have thus far been favorable.

So thanks to everyone and keep reading! I'd be happy to discuss the book with your group; all we have to do is arrange the details.

Jim Hessler

 

 

 

 

 

 



 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 11:41 pm
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CleburneFan
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Mr Hessler, many thanks for stopping by. Your book is one of those I hate to put down and the pages just fly by. I wish I had more unbroken time to just sit and read until my heart is content. One thing I began to feel as I have been reading your book is that it would make a really good movie or at the very least a fine History Channel biography based on your book. (Of course, you would have to get some on-screen time commenting on your research.)

As for the typo about the mysterious general George G George. Every one here knows I have never made a post here that did not contain at least one typo and usually many more. I'm a good one to be pointing out erros others make...the true pot calling the kettle black. 



 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2009 02:46 am
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SicklesatGB
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LOL--- I HAVE been pestering people to set us up with a History Channel documentary and even have dreams of "Sickles: The Movie". (Did you know there was some minor hopes for a Sickles film in the 1940s? That would have been interesting...)

So many people have told me that the book would be good material for a documentary and/or movie. But not sure who is making good CW documentaries these days and we can't decide who would play Dan in a movie?

Jim



 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2009 07:43 am
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fedreb
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Last night I watched Jim Hesslers' mini video tour of the Sickles story on the Gettysburg Daily site. I'll be ordering the book today and as for "Sickles, The Movie", now that would be worth waiting for.

Last edited on Sun Jul 19th, 2009 07:43 am by fedreb



 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2009 06:20 pm
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Marty
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I picked this book up twice at my local borders before finally buying it. I was skeptical at first. Finished it in three days. I still can't really tell how the author feels about Sickles (the mark of a good historian, I think, of course it depends on the sort of book you are writing.)

I did not see a single typo (in fact did not even see the George George in the battle order!). I used to get ticked about typos, but I don't any more. Unless they are of the substance variety and really call into notice the author's credibility. So since it is obvious the author would never think the Union army leader was George George--why even mention it? I don't get that. Anyway, this was one of the best bios I have read in a decade. Great book well designed (that cover!!) and attractive all the way around. Good job Mr. Hessler (to the publisher, too. They always do really good quality books.) Marty



 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2009 08:55 pm
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pamc153PA
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I'm glad to see so much feedback here, including from Mr. Hessler himself. I became interested in the book thanks to watching Mr. Hessler's Sickles tours on Gettysburg Daily. I, like Fan, love to read about the "characters" in the war! It's always been my feeling that the South had more of them than the North, so hearing about what sounds like a detailed and highly readable book on Sickles is a true find.

I haven't bought the book, yet, but I was actually saving the buying for next week, when I travel to Gettysburg for a few days of tramping around the battlefield on foot. Now, I'm definitely looking forward to the trip and the book--that is, if I don't get lost trying to find Neill Avenue, the "lost" avenue, this time around!

Thanks for the impromptu reviews, everyone!

Pam

 

 



 Posted: Mon Jul 20th, 2009 01:33 pm
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Marty
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Pamc

You are in for a treat! Fine book all the way around.

Marty



 Posted: Wed Aug 12th, 2009 12:51 am
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CleburneFan
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Finally finished Hessler's book today and say it is a MUST READ for anyone who is a student  of Day Two (July 2) at Gettysburg, a fan of Meade, or a student of Civil War scoundrels. It is also a MUST READ for those who love the Gettysburg National Military Park, because in spite of however much of a rascal Sickles may have been, he did do much to help establish this park.

I was not aware that inspite of his labors no statue or monument to him exists anywhere in the park! It was also a surprise to me that efforts surface at times to disinter Sickles from Arlington Cemetery and bury him at Gettysburg.

The book taught me so much I didn't know about Day Two, about the long running Meade/Sickles controversy, about the Joint Congressional Committee  investigation into how Meade conducted the battle and how various historians have looked at Sickles both as a person and as a "political" general.

Hessler also delves into the unmitigated mess that was Sickles's personal life. As a woman, myself, I have to wonder why he treated his own children and his two wives so miserably. How can you be so cold to your own children? Yet Sickles always showed great concern for Civil War veterans.

Hessler is an interesting writer. It was always hard to put down his book. There were times when I wished I could just jump up and fly to Gettysburg to see the areas he was describing.

I'm glad to have Hessler's book in my personal library and feel enriched by having read it.



 Posted: Sat Aug 15th, 2009 03:58 pm
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SicklesatGB
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Hi Again CleburneFan,

Thank you very very much for the review. I especially appreciated your comments about this being a "MUST READ for anyone who is a student of Day Two."

From the beginning, I really wanted this to be a readable account of the July 2 fighting on that part of the line. Almost a "Sickles vs. Longstreet". Rather than simply being a "Sickles biography", I almost look at the book as being a July 2 narratve--- the before, during, and after-effects of that battle -- with our man Dan Sickles being the leading character.

Hopefully then, if someone still feels like they "hate Sickles" too much to read a biography (and I've met a few of those folks!), they can still gain something of value regarding Gettysburg's biggest, bloodiest, and messiest day. Because I do think, love him or hate him, in order to really understand Gettysburg (again-- before, during, and after the battle) then one should have a good understanding of General Sickles.

Again, thanks for the great review! I'm looking forward to meeting with the book club and especially discussing what was going on in my thought process "behind the scenes" when I was wrting this. I think the last I heard was that we might kick off sometime in September.

Regards,
Jim Hessler



 Posted: Fri Oct 16th, 2009 04:20 pm
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fedreb
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I had to revive this thread as I have just finished reading Mr Hesslers "Sickles at Gettysburg" and wanted to add my thanks to him for writing such a very good book which is, as said before, a "must read" for anyone interested in Day 2 and the Third Corps AotP.

I have other books on Sickles, Keneally's "American Scoundrel" and Swanberg's "Sickles the Incredible", both decent enough books which have now been eclipsed by Mr Hesslers style, and depth of knowledge of his subject.

"Sickles at Gettysburg" I think sets a new standard in Gettysburg writing, pretty good for a first time author.

What next Mr Hessler?



 Posted: Fri Oct 16th, 2009 06:26 pm
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susansweet3
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The on line discussion group has been reading the Sickles book and on Sunday evenings discussing the book with the Author.  All of us I think that have been in the group feel it is a major plus to the Sickles story.  The author has been a wonderful addition to the group also .  We are still reading and discussion if anyone wants to join.  Check out the information here on this website . 

Susan



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