Review: The Complete Gettysburg Guide by J. David Petruzzi

TheCompleteGettysburgGuideJDavidPetruzziSavasBeatiePetruzzi, J. David (Text) & Stanley, Steven (Maps and Photos).  The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest. Savas Beatie LLC (June 1, 2009). 320 pages, maps, illustrations, guided tours, bibliography, index. ISBN: 978-1-932714-63-0 $39.95 (Hardcover).

As many reviews of this book have noted, using the word “complete” in a book title naturally throws up red flags for readers.  The Complete Gettysburg Guide is one of those rare titles which live up to the high aspirations set by such an audacious title.  Many Gettysburg books are tours of the battlefield action only.  Co-contributors Petruzzi and Stanley have joined forces to provide readers with a book which delves deeper into this most famous of Civil War battlefields.

J. David Petruzzi is by now well-known among both Gettysburg and Civil War enthusiasts, co-authoring books on J.E.B. Stuart’s ride to Gettysburg and the Confederate retreat after the battle with Eric Wittenberg.  He is a long-time Gettysburg enthusiast who has visited the battlefield numerous times, making him a well-suited candidate to write this type of in depth tour guide title.

Steven Stanley, the cartographer/photographer for this the book, is equally well-suited to the task.  He lives in Gettysburg, has had his maps appear in America’s Civil War and Hallowed Ground magazines, and has been a student of the Civil War his entire adult life.

The Complete Gettysburg Guide is a hefty book for its size, well made and designed to last divided up into various tours, allowing the purchaser to decide which tours they want to take on a given trip to the battlefield.  In addition to the usual battlefield tours, of which there are six in this volume, Petruzzi and Stanley also offer tours of the town itself, two cemeteries, the field hospitals erected after the battle and (my personal favorite) a tour of the rock carvings present on the battlefield.  This last tour offers readers the opportunity to explore a feature of the battlefield rarely seen by the general public.

Each tour offers standard text penned by Petruzzi, tour directions on a green background, numerous maps, photos, and illustrations, and “Did You Know?” tidbits offering fascinating facts pertaining to each specific tour.  The main text goes into the proper amount of detail, keeping veteran Gettysburg students interested while effectively introducing the battle to those new to the subject.  The book is gorgeously laid out, with the maps and illustrations adding to the value of the book both aesthetically and by complementing the main text with more information.  Tour maps show modern roads and mark out each tour stop with a circle.  Maps showing troops movements include scale, different colors for the opposing armies, and lines of elevation.  Steven Stanley’s photos show the battlefield today from a variety of angles and in all seasons.

Some typos were noted, especially on the maps, something which future editions of the book should correct.  I would have liked to have seen a spiral bound edition of this book for actually tramping the battlefield.  As a collector, I will not be bringing this exceedingly handsome copy with me to Gettysburg.  Currently the only solution is to buy a second hardcover copy, something not everyone can afford and one which is far from ideal.

A nice addition and one which more authors should utilize is a web site for the book,, offering “updates, supplements, and many other interactive features.”

The Complete Gettysburg Guide is sure to please Gettysburg battlefield trampers and others interested in the Battle of Gettysburg, including everything associated with that massive and devastating event.  The book goes beyond the battlefield, offering tours of other topics such as field hospitals, cemeteries, and the town of Gettysburg.  Future authors of books in the Civil War tour guide genre would do well to emulate the format used in this book.   This book truly is as “complete” as anyone touring the battlefield and surrounding areas could realistically want.  Highly recommended!

I would like to thank Sarah Keeney at Savas Beatie LLC.


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