There has been a lot of buzz lately about Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Jim Hessler's upcoming (June 2009) biography of Dan Sickles - Sickles at Gettysburg: The Controversial Civil War General who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg. Published by Savas Beatie LLC, this much-anticipated book will be, in my opinion, the seminal work on Sickles at Gettysburg as well as the must-have military biography of the general. Love him or hate him, Sickles is a pivotal figure of the battle, and much has been written about his role on July 2. Jim has presented a very thoughtful, reasoned, balanced, and extremely well-documented treatise of Sickles' controversial participation on the Union left during the second day of battle, as well as his influence on the rest of the Gettysburg Campaign, not to mention Sickles' infinitely interesting post-battle life and career.
I have read the other published biographies, as well as more material on Sickles' Gettysburg role than I care to remember. Jim's book will place all of the extant material in perspective, and I believe will drive much of the opinions to come. Jim has no agenda or axe to grind with his book - he simply presents (in more detail than I've ever seen) all of the facts and circumstances that led to Sickles' controversial move of his 3rd Federal Corps forward from the Cemetery Ridge line on July 2. And the biographical details that Jim provides convinced me that previous to this book, I knew much less about the general than I thought I did.
The July 2009 issue of America's Civil War magazine also contains an article on Sickles at Gettysburg by Jim, based on his book. It's on newsstands now - check out the article for a taste of what is in the book, and don't miss the discussion of the "Sickles Chomping on a Cigar" battlefield story.
I must also compliment publisher Ted Savas and his design folks for the beauty of the cover of this book. It is wonderfully done. Last night, Jim forwarded an electronic image of the full cover of the book, and I was very impressed. Savas is well known for having the best book covers in the business (they have done a beautiful job with all of mine) and this one is gorgeous.
Congratulations to Jim on giving us what will be the standard Sickles work, and an infinitely interesting read that everyone will thoroughly enjoy.