Civil War Talk Radio: October 5, 2007

Air Date: 100507
Subject: Civil War Top Ten Lists
Books:  The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863 & Roads to Gettysburg: Lee’s Invasion of the North, 1863 & Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg
Guest: Bradley M. Gottfried

Summary: Author and President of College of Southern Maryland, Bradley M. Gottfried joins Gerry to discuss his current book, The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863 and his other works.

Brett’s Summary: Gerry speaks with author Bradley Gottfried about his numerous works on the Gettysburg Campaign in this fascinating interview.

Bradley M. Gottfried is the President of the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, Maryland.  He has written numerous books on the Gettysburg Campaign, including those listed in the “Books” section at the top of this post.

Gottfried lives in southern Maryland and lives near the John Wilkes Booth escape route from Washington, D.C. after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Gerry and Brad discussed this a little bit at the top of the show.

The author says he has a tendency to want to honor the soldiers in places he has lived, so when he lived in Philadelphia he wrote a book on the Philadelphia brigade which fought at the Angle at Gettysburg, and when he lived in New Jersey he wrote a book about the First New Jersey brigade.  He has thought about writing about Point Lookout as a result of his new location in Maryland.

Gerry commented on the tendency of so many Gettysburg books to go into too much detail and complimented Roads to Gettysburg as one which did not go into too much detail.  In an idea I found to be very creative and fun, Gerry mentioned that he set up a board wargame version of the Gettysburg Campaign and moved the units on the map as he read Gottfried’s book.  This, he said, allowed him to understand the campaign as he never had before.  I may have to try something like this when I get around to reading that particular book.

Gerry also pointed out his dislike of books with too much tactical detail, and used Harry Pfanz’ multiple Gettysburg books as examples of this.  Ironically, later in the show, Brad mentioned Pfanz as one of his favorite authors writing on the campaign!

Talk moved to Gottfried’s book on Brigades of Gettysburg and why he went about writing it.  Gerry challenged him to ask why it was a necessary book, as he quite often does with guests of the show, and I thought Gottfried’s answer was excellent and something I’ve stressed in my own answers to certain pseudo-academic bloggers in the past.  Gettysburg is interesting to Gottfried and others, so they want to read everything they can on the subject.  Gottfried asked why he should write a scholarly book on Fredericksburg rather than a book like Brigades of Gettysburg if there is little demand for it from the public.  Instead, he said he wrote the book because he was interested in the topic and he knew many other people would be as well.  He stressed that he wants to write about what many people want to read about, a worthy goal to be sure.

Most of the rest of the hour was spent discussing The Maps of Gettysburg, a book containing 150 maps, each accompanied by a page of text, and published by Savas Beatie LLC.  Gottfried told the story of how two cartographers, at least one very well known, quit on him in the middle of the project.  Eventually he was forced to learn the mapping software and finish the job on his own.  It sounded like these cartographers did not want to go into the level of detail Gottfried did and this caused friction.  Kudos to the author and Ted Savas at Savas Beatie for creating what has now become a series of “Maps of…” books.  Gerry asked Gottfried to compare his book to the Army War college Guide to Gettysburg, and he did a good job of explaining the differences.  Rather than a tour guide, and one with FAR fewer maps than his book, The Maps of Gettysburg is meant to visually guide the reader through the battle and really provides a different, educational, and entertaining way to look at the battle of Gettysburg.

I have all three of Gottfried’s Gettysburg books and while I have not read Roads to Gettysburg, I can HIGHLY personally recommend the other two.  If you are at all interested in the battle of Gettysburg, Gottfried’s books should be high on your “to buy” list.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.

Check out more summaries of Civil War Talk Radio at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

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