Thursday, January 7, 2010

No, I haven't disappeared...

My apologies for not posting at all for the past five weeks or so... I basically took an unintentional sabattical over the holidays. After a whirlwind, busy summer, a month-long illness, and many family obligations in preparation for the holidays (and not having anything of value to post, admittedly) I just haven't had the urge to blog - until now.

It's a new year, and there's lots to look forward to. Except for a joint article with Eric Wittenberg that is in the new issue of Blue&Gray Magazine, I really haven't written anything of substance since the summer. (The B&G article came out really nice, by the way - it's based on the July 4, 1863 Monterey Pass battle chapter from our book One Continuous Fight, and publisher Dave Roth did a great job with the new maps.) I did a narrative piece on the actions of Gettysburg's South Cavalry Field for the No Casino Gettysburg and No Casino Adams County folks that is seeing a lot of public exposure right now (in opposition to the damned proposed casino along Rt. 30 only 2700 feet south of the Park boundary).

But there is a lot to report on the The Complete Gettysburg Guide front. We had to keep it quiet until this week, but all five of the major book clubs - including the History Book Club and the Military Book Club - picked up the book as a selection! It is quite an honor for Steve Stanley and I. Anyone considering purchasing the book through the club needs to know that the quality of the club edition is the SAME high quality as the regular prints - the clubs "piggy-backed" on the print run by publisher Savas Beatie. Very same book. Same heavy gloss paper, same cover boards, same cover, same everything.

During the holiday, I began serious work on the script for the audio supplement for the Guide. This audio, which will be available as a CD package, and an internet download, will feature my voice narrative of the battlefield tours from the Guide - and will include an additional tour not in the book. The additional tour is that of the June 23, 1863 civilian ambush of a company of the 14th Virginia Cavalry that took place in the Cashtown Pass. During the ambush, a Cashtown civilian named Henry Hahn shot and mortally wounded a member of the 14th. There has never been a detailed tour published of the incident, and to my knowledge it has never been mapped. The supplement will contain that map. Please note, also, that this audio guide will NOT simply be a reading of the book - it will be completely different, and will point out many sights, places and events that do not appear in the book, and will leave out some that are in the book - in other words they are quite different indeed. We hope folks will see the value in both and will desire both. If all goes well, the audio guide is scheduled to be available to the public sometime this coming April.

We are very humbled by the wonderful reviews that the book has received. Besides the great print reviews, as of this date there are 28 reviews on Amazon, all of them 5-star. We can't express out gratitude for that adequately, and we are so heartened that folks enjoy and learn from the book so much! And even though the book has just been made available by the book clubs, as of last night when I checked their website, the Guide was already the #7 top-selling volume on the History Book Club's Civil War Campaigns list.

Although I haven't written much over the past several months, I have been actively gathering primary materials in preparation for beginning to write the next volume in the Guide series - the one for the 1862 Maryland Campaign. I expect to start cracking on the text later this month. Release date for it is expected to spring 2011, which give Steve and I the bulk of this year to put it together. Many Antietam/Maryland Campaign students and experts - Ted Alexander (who will write the Forward), Steve Recker, John Hoptak, Mannie Gentile, and Brian Jordan, just to name a few and leave many out - have signed on to help. I have always loved the campaign - South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Shepherdstown - every bit as much as Gettysburg, and I can't wait to get started.

Also during the year, I will begin work on a solo scholarly book that I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's a book I feel has been needed for a long time, and I've spent much of my research time over the past couple of decades gathering material needed for it. That's all I'll say for now, and more will be forthcoming on it next year.

Well, that's all I've got to say for now. Western Pennsylvania is in the midst of another big snow storm right now, which I'm watching out the windows of my new home office/library. Snowblowing and shoveling cuts into my writing time! But winter, I have found, is a great time to write - hot chocolate at the ready, dog snuggled up at my feet.

Let the words flow... and try to grab the good ones.


  1. Hi JD
    The book is teriffic.
    Put me in for a CD.
    Best Wishes

  2. Just discovered this blog, thanks for some interesting reading & providing some great links. Looks like your book must have done very well indeed with the History Book Club... my copy has been backordered for about six weeks
    (of course, no word they were out of stock when I placed my order) and when I emailed them a week ago expressing my impatience, they replied that they hoped to have stock "soon". Looking forward to finally being able to see it.

    Dick in Arizona

  3. Thank you, Dick - have you received the book yet?