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Cain at Gettysburg by Ralph Peters

I love to read books about war, both fiction and nonfiction.  And who can get enough of the Civil War?  It is literally unimaginable how many men (and animals) were slaughtered, homes and crops destroyed.  How did America recover from it?  Over 600,000 dead!  A while back, I read a starred review of Ralph Peters’ Cain at Gettysburg and when I saw a sticker on the cover of the book that stated it “surpasses Michael Shaara’s Killer Angels (which won the Pulitzer), I thought “no way”.  However, the account of the multi day battle, of the personalities from Meade to Lee to Hancock to Pettigrew to the lowliest soldiers was top notch.  Peters has researched the Battle of Gettysburg for more than 50 years and it shows.  War is hell and he does not gloss over the nasty parts.  What would’ve happened if pampered idiots hadn’t used political connections to get military ranks they were ill qualified for?  If they did what was best instead of thinking of their egos and political futures?  We’ll never know and anyway these travesties certainly are not unique to the Civil War.  I’m not sure that I would rank this book above any Shaara (Michael or Jeff) war book but I would definitely rank it up there with them.  One odd note is that when I read the author’s notes I discovered that Ralph Peters also wrote some Civil War mysteries I have enjoyed under the pen name of Owen Parry!  I definitely recommend this book and after reading his notes would encourage him to tackle writing a definitive biography of George Meade.

Stacy W.

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