If we grant - as many would be ready to do - that the Civil War furnishes the great dramatic episode of the history of the United States, and that Gettysburg provides the climax of the war, then the climax of the climax, the central moment of our history, must be Pickett's Charge. So wrote author George Stewart in the Foreword to his 1959 Pickett's Charge, a work that must be considered a classic of its kind, an in-depth study of only part of a pivotal battle that has become more common in recent years. In preparation for my visit to Gettysburg this September to Remember, I had been reading almost exclusively about the battle on its separate days and so decided to revisit this work I had read now so very many years ago. It is impossible now to consider this long-ago work without comparing it with the more recent analytical works by Harry Pfanz or David Martin I have reviewed here recently; Stewart was a novelist as well as a historian, and this shows especially in his devotion to telling a good story over a highly detailed analysis of military maneuvering. His characterizations of historic personages is also concise without too much extraneous information. Stewart manages to tell his story in fewer than 300 pages, with appendices on Confederate Losses, The Pickett "Letters", Fire-Power and Losses, Battle Orders in Confederate Brigades, Wright's Report, and The Battlefield; plus Notes, Bibliography, and Index, for a total of 354 pp. This is not to say that detail is lacking, but if any potential reader wants to know exactly where any particular unit was at any specific time and the exact route of march that had brought it to the battlefield, they should look instead to Martin or Pfanz. Stewart approaches the subject as an epochal event peopled with many interesting characters much as a novel might be. Of course, central to this are the figures of Lee and Longstreet and Stewart presents fairly the most likely reasoning behind their respective views while recognizing the subsequent partisanship that marred interpretation for almost a century before this book was written. If there's a problem with this approach, I thought he gave Lee's decision to attack a little too much possibility of success, pointing out the disparity in numbers between the attackers and the defenders at the point of contact. But this was written before the prevailing interpretation of another novelist, Michael Shaara in his The Killer Angels and its derivative movie version Gettysburg, became the agreed-upon yardstick by which most now measure these personalities and events. Stewart might've used more sources - and it's really unfortunate he was writing before more recent research revealed things like Edward Porter Alexander's "suppressed" version of his famous memoirs which much here is based upon - but his overall intent seems to have been to give a fair, balanced, and entertaining account rather than a dry, scholarly, and pedantic one. He devotes a good bit of description to the ground on which the action occurred, accompanied by several easily-understood diagrammatic maps scattered through the text, and I was especially glad to see often-neglected elements like the artillery "duel" and the action occurring on the flanks of Pickett's Charge featured prominently. For the Federals, the Vermont Brigade of George Stannard and Alex Hays' Second Corps division emerge as heroes who are too often diminished in general accounts of the battle. No doubt much more recent accounts of this pivotal event in Civil War history have supplanted Stewart, certainly in wealth of detail (sometimes overwhelmingly so) and likely additional information as well, but it should be remembered this was in its time a pioneering work. I recommend this with certain reservations: those looking for that overwhelming wealth of detail should certainly look elsewhere, and there are others who might be put off by the segmented or episodic style this is presented in. However, for those seeking a well-written, flowing account that doesn't overburden the reader, this would be a fine introduction to this ever-popular subject. James N.