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Monday, June 28, 2010

Audio Tour update - and a CONTEST!

We recently got word that the first Audio Tour of the main battlefield, based on The Complete Gettysburg Guide, will be available in Gettysburg this Wednesday, June 30. It will not be available in the GNMP Vistor Center bookstore, however, until the following week - Event Network, the company that runs the store, is unable to code it into their retail system until then. We've tried everything to help them get it listed more quickly, but unfortunately it can't be done. So even though it won't be available there until the week of July 5, the Audio Tour will be available at the following locations:

Battlefields and Beyond Book Shoppe (in Old Gettysburg Village)
The American History Store (corner of Steinwehr and Baltimore)
Gallery 30 (on the Square)
The Gettysburg Gift Center (Steinwehr Ave)

Steve Stanley and I have signings set up at each of these locations as follows:

Thurs., July 1 - 11am -4pm - We will be at the Hunterstown event in Hunterstown, about 4 miles northeast of Gettysburg
6pm - 8pm - Signing at Battlefields and Beyond Book Shoppe
Fri., July 2 - 2pm -5pm - Signing at the Gettysburg Gift Center
6pm - 8pm - Signing at the tent outside the American History Store
Sat., July 3 - 6pm- 8pm Signing at Battlefields and Beyond Book Shoppe

We have bookplates that we can sign and place into each Audio Tour.

Now for the CONTEST!

Over the four days from July 1 through the 4th, Steve and I will be making trips around the battlefield, and getting out to walk a little at certain spots. The first person, on each day, that we see out carrying a copy of The Complete Gettysburg Guide will win a FREE signed copy of the Audio Tour! Please note - the winner must be out on the field with the book (having it in the car doesn't count). There will be one winner each day, and you can only win once. It must be somewhere out on the field - our book signings don't count. You don't know where we might be or at what time (we don't know yet either!) but it might be anywhere on the main battlefield or even East Cavalry Field. We might be at the popular spots - the High Water Mark, Little Round Top - or perhaps at less-walked areas of the field. Obviously, we can't be out on the field during book signings, but at any other time we could be out looking for that winner.

So if you're in Gettysburg July 1-4, make sure to take your copy of the book out with you, and we hope you're the lucky winner that day! (If a winner happens to already have a copy of the Audio Tour, we can substitute a copy of Volume 2 of the tour series when it's available.)

Good luck, and we hope to see you out on the field with your book!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hey, Ma - I'm one of the "cool kids"!

Buddy Dimitri Rotov has posted a great review of Tom Clemens' The Maryland Campaign of 1862 - Volume 1: South Mountain published by my publisher, Savas Beatie. I got an early peek at Tom's manuscript, and absolutely loved the footnotes - which pushes Tom's treatment of Ezra Carman's classic manuscript many levels above the prior release by Joseph Pierro. Dimitri writes what I consider to be the best reviews, and, true to form, he provides a very thoughtful and informative comparison of the two. Tom has gone far beyond the practice of simply editing and sourcing Carman's work (as Pierro did) by providing eminently useful commentary - and even taking Carman to task at times when it is warranted. Pierro's work basically gives you Carman's manuscript as a reference - which it does admirably - but in a very flawed work. For example, Pierro's book has no maps; it has no photos or illustrations beyond a frontispiece photo; and unfortunately, that front photo purported to be Carman isn't even Carman. A major, embarassing mistake for Pierro and publisher I'm sure. I don't know if they've corrected that in any future printings. I have both books, and with Clemens on my shelf I have no reason at all to ever refer to Pierro's. I eagerly look forward to Volume 2, which Tom is working on now.

But here's the reason for the title of this post... After Ted Savas sent me Tom's manuscript for review (the Maryland Campaign is my second love, and actually I have had photocopies of most of Carman's files for years), Ted asked me to provide a blurb to be included in the book. I was honored to be asked, and after reading Tom's work I immediately thought "Carman would approve" of Tom's work - and I include that statement in my blurb.

In his comparison of Clemens' and Pierro's works, Dimitri stated that imprimaturs were printed in both, but "...where Joseph Pierro has a dust jacket showing establishment blurbs (hello again McPherson, Davis, Bearss, Wert) Clemens has blurbs from the cool kids: Hartwig, Hoptak, Petruzzi, Rafuse."

I'm a cool kid! And to be as such in the company of Scott Hartwig, John "J.D." Hoptak and Ethan Rafuse just made my week.

I love it. Now, I have to trade in my cheap sunglasses for a designer pair. Hopefully the wife won't mind me wearing them in the house for a while...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gettyburg Guide wins US Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award!

Steve Stanley and I couldn't be more humbled about the great news about the book that's been coming this week. Today, it was announced that The Complete Gettysburg Guide has won the US Army Historical Foundation's 2009 Distinguished Writing Award in the Reference category. Each year, the AHF chooses a small amount of books, across the entire spectrum of military historical releases, to win in various categories such as Reference, Biography, and Battles/Campaigns. Considering the release of many wonderful books last year, that ranged from topics of the Colonial Period to the current Middle East conflicts, that vied for recognition in these categories, this award is more than we ever hoped for.

Matthew Seelinger, the AHF's Chief Historian, paid us a great compliment when he said, "J. David Petruzzi's and Steven Stanley's The Complete Gettysburg Guide is the definitive reference book for anyone planning to visit the Gettysburg battlefield." All Steve and I ever hoped for regarding the book was for it to be useful for visitors to understand the battle, the campaign, see things they may never have thought to look for, and in general just appreciate the ground and the town. Such a high honor makes us grateful beyond words.

Thanks so much to the US Army Historical Foundation, and to everyone who has appreciated the book. It motivates us to keep working and learning. And appreciating how very lucky we are.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Very nice compliments about books in Hanover Evening Sun editorial

Marc Charisse, editor of the Evening Sun newspaper in Hanover, Pennsylvania made some really nice comments about The Complete Gettysburg Guide in his editorial of Sunday, June 13. You can read the entire editorial online here. Two of my books, in fact were mentioned - the Guide, coauthored with Steve Stanley, as well as Plenty of Blame To Go Around, coauthored with Eric Wittenberg. We are very grateful to Marc for his kind words about the books - when the editorial was pointed out to me by Gettysburg friend Dean Shultz, I was greatly humbled at Marc's words. Here are the pertinent portions of the editorial:

"... last November, I finally found the book that could safely guide me
across Gettysburg all by itself... 'The Complete Gettysburg Guide.' At
last, the one book I'd take to Gettysburg if I could only take one book.
It's got everything - walking tours, driving tours, battle maps, monuments and
battlefield lore. In a way, Petruzzi's new book is too good, pointing out
all those cool rock carvings, dinosaur fossils and other hidden battlefield
stuff some of us had to spend years to find. If you see me on the
battlefield, I'll let you take a look at my copy..."


And about "Plenty of Blame To Go Around":

"(It) is the best study of J.E.B. Stuart's famous ride around the Union
army. It includes detailed descriptions of the battles of Hanover and
Hunterstown, as well as an excellent driving tour. A great
book."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lancaster (Pa) CWRT Talk

Last night I had the great pleasure of giving a presentation about The Complete Gettysburg Guide to the members of the Lancaster Civil War Round Table in Lititz, Pa. I was amazed at the number of folks who came out - well over 100, and the room was packed. I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation about the book, because Steve Stanley's maps and design are so gorgeous in the book, they must be seen to be appreciated. I especially emphasized the elements in his maps - color, movement, placement of park roads, etc., - that make the maps so easy to use on the field.

As usual, the section of rock carvings received a lot of attention and several questions after the presentation - it always amazes me how much interest there is in them (as much as I have!).

I had a terrific time - the folks were very hospitable. Aftwards, it was great to see a line of several dozen people who wanted to buy the book or have their own copy signed. Over two dozen members purchased the book, and at least a dozen brought their own.

Thanks so much to Micky Kraft for asking me to make the presentation - I hope to be able to go back soon to talk to them again.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Visit to Gettysburg's Lutheran Seminary cupola



This past weekend I was in Gettysburg for the Gettysburg Discussion Group Muster, joining old and new friends for several beautiful days on the battlefields. Friday night we had a wonderful dinner at Mama Ventura's. Saturday afternoon I led a tour of the June 23, 1863 "Bushwacking" Incident at the Cashtown Pass, as well as some sights associated with the June 26 skirmishing between Early's Division and Pennsylvania Militia. On Sunday we got a wonderful, rare tour of Neill (Lost) Avenue by old friend Dean Shultz. I've taken that tour several times, but I enjoy each and every one of them, learning something new each time.

I must admit, though, that the highlight of my weekend (and maybe my year!) was getting to go up into the Lutheran Theological Seminary cupola for the first time in my life. Several years ago, the Lutheran Seminary and Adams County Historical Society opened the cupola to visitation again, once the attic steps were reinforced and safety was no longer a concern. A few times a year, it is available for limited visits to small groups, and when the opportunity came up this weekend, I jumped at the chance.

Prior to the tour, old buddy Wayne Motts (Executive Director of the ACHS) gave us a bit of history of the Seminary and its role during the war. We went down to the first floor, where he showed our group some very rare items. Then, those of us who registered and paid for the cupola tour were led up into it by Tim Smith.

After walking up four flights of stairs, we finally reached the attic under the cupola. There, we walked up a little maze of wooden steps, opened the trap door, then up into the cupola itself.

I still have butterflies in my stomach from when I stepped out onto the cupola platform. Here was where General John Buford made a couple visits while watching the fighting on the morning of July 1, 1863. This is where Lt. Aaron Jerome, his signal officer, watched as General Henry Heth's Division approached along the Cashtown Pike, and from which he finally spotted General John Reynolds' arrival along the Emmitsburg Road. And the views from there were simply awesome.

Much of the cupola has been reconstructed following a fire during an early 1900's lightning strike, but it didn't detract from the solemn history of being up there. Unfortunately, a couple of very tall trees to the west obstruct much of the view along the Cashtown Pike (modern Rt. 30 West), but the ACHS is attempting to have those trees cut back a little. That will open up the view that Buford had that day. But from there, you can see the 5 miles to Hunterstown, beyond Big Round Top, and all the way to the Fairfield Gap some 8 miles to the southwest. The seven of us were in the cupola for nearly an hour as Tim pointed out many landmarks, and we discussed a plethora of topics. Steve Stanley took a bunch of photos of us and the sights from all directions.

Prior to the tour, Wayne had showed us the spot on the grounds where he believed Reynolds stood atop his horse as he yelled up to Buford, and I'm convinced he has it right. It's just off the northeast corner of the building. Due to the way the fenced lanes were on the grounds at the time of the battle (and the eastern facade was the front of the building at the time), and because you have limited visibility of the grounds immediately surrounding the building since the brick facades around the roof extend above the roof lines, I think Wayne's location is accurate. Wayne stood on that spot while we were in the cupola, and yelled up to me "What's the matter, John?" To which I dutifully yelled down "The devil's to pay!"

After all these years of studying Buford and his cavalry, the opportunity to get up in that cupola will stay with me for the rest of my life - and even that cupola is "battlefield terrain" that must be experienced to be truly understood.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Audio Tour now available for order on our website

For those interested, Volume One: The Battlefield - the first volume in the audio tours based on The Complete Gettysburg Guide is now available to order on our website here. The two CDs total 150 minutes, with an 8-page full-color booklet featuring maps by Steve Stanley. There's even a discount if you wish to order the audio tour and the book. We are now working on the second volume, which will feature the cavalry battlefields! We expect to receive the first volume about June 15-20 and they will be sent out immediately.