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The new book on Pickett's Charge by Phillip Thomas Tucker taught me one thing

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by E_just_E, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. E_just_E

    E_just_E Moderator Moderator

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    (actually two things: )

    A. Never ever ever again pre-order a book without physically looking and going through it.

    A good six months ago, Amazon sent me an alert e-mail that a new book on Pickett's Charge, Pickett's Charge: A New Look at Gettysburg’s Final Attack. A New Look at Gettysburg's Final Attack, by Phillip Thomas Tucker, will be published this August, and offered a good deal on publication pre-orders. Looking up the guy and seeing that he is actually a Ph.D. historian and wrote a book on Barksdale's doings at Gettysburg (which also looked interesting) at that price, pre-order was a non-issue.

    The book was published the 16th and arrived pretty close to that date, but travel obligations etc. did not allow me to have even a look. This week I am in Philly, and having a 3 hr RT train commute, I had the opportunity to start it. Saying that I am disappointed in a lot of respects is an understatement.

    First of all, I do not like the tone of the guy:

    He really is talking about all the "mythology", including the Lost Cause mythology and how that made romantic heroes out of the Virginians by making the Pickett's Charge attempt look suicidal while it was Lee's master-plan that should worked, if executed properly.

    And then goes ahead and embraces the part of the "Lost Cause Mythology" that he likes, including the deification of Lee and the gross denigration of Longstreet, even at a petty personal level with passages like this:

    29132699461_e6eb4b644d_h.jpg

    And if that were not enough, not only he espouces the Bachelder Mythology regarding the Copse of Trees, with zero references, other than things like Wikipedia and references to books published after 1980, he shoots down other potential theories (like the Ziegler's Grove theories) calling them "revisionisn" and "speculation" (of course, utilizing no references), but even one ups Bachelder by extending them to include impossible fantasies (talking about revisionism and speculation.) Ergo:

    28590580933_93dfa6b9ab_o.jpg

    Cannot make it up. In his words:

    ...the copse to serve as an elevated beacon [...] for thousands of Stuart's cavalry from the east.

    (and, yes, I torture my books - but it is pencil)

    I barely made it though the first chapter and the 2 preliminary chapter, but this is not a good one. In addition to the inadequate references, the speculation, the pro Lee agenda (instead of the neutrality of an historian,) and the bizarre fantasy thesis regarding Stuart attacking the Copse of Trees from behind (heck, he'd capture Meade on his way too; this might be coming,) it is full of factual mistakes (eg. other than the above regarding Ziegler's grove's size, saying that Ziegler's grove is in lower ground that the CoT at some point or saying that Lee saw with binoculars from the Seminary Ridge that the US had no fortifications by the copse of trees - 2 wrongs in that statement) and inconsistencies (even at some point he negates the statement that the CoT are at higher ground than Ziegler's grove; also he has a timeline of the battle in which he says that Reynolds secured the high ground - at a time after he has him killed.) And I do not like his style. He writes like he has a chip on his shoulder or something and he is the only bearer of the "truth".

    Not worth it. And I suspect that I will not change my mind after I finish.

    Hope that I saved you $20 or so; you owe me a beer :wink:

    Oh. Lesson learned number 2: There is no way in hey I am buying his Barksdale book.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016

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  3. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    lol Now i have to read it.
     
  4. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    To be fair, that is a fairly accurate assessment of Longstreet. :wink:

    R
     
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  5. Rebforever

    Rebforever Major

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    I am reading it too. It tells me more about the tactics of alignment of the confederates for the attack and why he did it.
    H e writes also comparing Genera Lee to Napoleon and Jomini and what Lee learned in West Point. I don't know the battlefield and who was where so I would be unwilling to make a comment on that.
    He does take up for General Lee and what his plan would do if successful.
    I don't particularly like his style of writing. I'll read it till the end to get my monies worth.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  6. Rebforever

    Rebforever Major

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    ZZZZIIIIPPPP!!!! :bomb:
     
  7. theoldman

    theoldman First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    Fwiw, I am reading his book on Barksdale and I have many of the same issues with it that you mention here. In fact I put the book down for right now and I hardly ever do that. My book is on my tablet so I can't show marked pages. :wink:

    PS
    He also has a new book on Custer's Last Stand due out in November. It is supposed to have "new ground breaking information ". I think I will wait on that one too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  8. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    If he's seriously arguing that Stuart was supposed to attack the rear of the Union lines, then all of his credibility is lost.

    R
     
  9. E_just_E

    E_just_E Moderator Moderator

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    Yes he is. And use the Copse of Trees as his "beacon". It is up there. Little he knows that the Copse of Trees is not visible form the other (east side) until you are on the ridge, not to mention that Stuart's cavalry kinda had to either through town North to South, or circle around and go South to North up Tarrytown road in tiny formations against infantry and artillery.

    Or jump over Culps' Hill or over the moon.

    Total fantasy.
     
  10. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    It's perpetuating a myth. The problem with that myth is that Stuart himself stated that he was protecting Lee's right flank out there on the Hanover Road, not looking to get behind the Union army. If a "historian" makes this kind of mistake, it throws all of his credibility out the window. Any student of the battle can't take his work seriously.

    R
     
  11. E_just_E

    E_just_E Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah.

    And the interesting thing is that he is totally polemic against any other theories (as partially shown above...)

    History Book Club, book of the month for August, btw. That speaks tons about the History Book Club, as well...
     
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  12. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    Ugh. SMH.

    R
     
  13. christian soldier

    christian soldier First Sergeant

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    E. Thanks for the heads up. I was planning on buying the book tomorrow. You just saved me a nice sum of money.
     
  14. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    First laugh of the day -> Thanks! :smile:
     
  15. Mark Roth

    Mark Roth Private

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    I have this book; part of a pile I impulsively bought after getting from a visit to Gettysburg a few weeks ago. I may move it to the top of the pile. I am curious to see how bad it is.
     
  16. Will Carry

    Will Carry Sergeant

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    I imagine 50 years from now some historian wannabe will quote this book as fact on some futuristic forum. Because we all know that if it was published it must be true.
     
  17. Rebforever

    Rebforever Major

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    I would suggest to read it and and decide for yourselves. If I see a book that has a nice cover about a historical fact, something is bound to be learned good, bad, or indifferent. This book is good about how the battle developed. But here again I really don't know all that much about the battle anyway other than some certain places.
     
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  18. Rebforever

    Rebforever Major

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    Have you read it yet? Every book that has been written concerning the CW found something new to pass along to others. There may be some new findings in this book. One has to look first.
     
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  19. Malingerer

    Malingerer Sergeant Major

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    New does not necessarily = true.
     
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  20. Rebforever

    Rebforever Major

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    Have you read it?
     
  21. Will Carry

    Will Carry Sergeant

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    I like your attitude Reb and I think I will put in on my list. I'm reading a book called 'Blind Man's Bluff" right now and have two more waiting. I had to stop reading CW books for a while after reading Jeff Shaara's "The Faithful Lightning", a novel so depressing I had to stop reading before Sherman even got to the sea.
     
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