Discovering Gettysburg: An Unconventional Introduction to the Greatest Little Town in America and the Monumental Battle that Made It Famous

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Pub Date:
June 2017
Hardcover, 6 x 9
Caricatures, photos, maps, 192 pp.
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About the Book

Does any other single word in any language invoke so much passion and angst, enthusiasm and sadness, as do those ten letters? But what IS Gettysburg, exactly? I am almost embarrassed to say I discovered the answer to that question—or at least approached an answer—only late in life.

Of course, Gettysburg is a small charming city nestled in south-central Pennsylvania, but in so many ways it beggars description. For about half the year its streets are mainly empty, its businesses quiet, the weather cold and blustery. For the other months, however, the place literally teems with hundreds of thousands of visitors, bustling streets and shops, and more than a handful of unique larger-than-life characters whose fan base spans the globe.

And then there is the battle—the event—of the Civil War. The battle that raged there during the first days of July 1863 at the price of more than 50,000 casualties decided much (just how much depending upon who you believe) and forever stamped that place with its passion and angst and enthusiasm and its lingering, forever sadness. Its monuments and guns and plaques tell the story of the colossal clash of arms and societies, just as its National Cemetery bears silent witness to at least part of the cost of that bloody event.

And somehow this “greatest little town in America,” this mammoth battle, its influential characters (living and dead), its deep meaning and profound influence on our society largely escaped me for nearly six decades. That ended a couple years ago when I finally paid a visit. My journey from the uninitiated to the fully converted only took a short time, but I felt compelled to pen my experiences as they unfolded. And so you hold in your hands Discovering Gettysburg: An Unconventional Introduction to the Greatest Little Town in America and the Monumental Battle that Made It Famous.

In it, you will visit with me a host of famous and off-the-beaten-path places on the battlefield, explore the historic town of Gettysburg as it is today, chat with some of the town’s fascinating “resources,” and follow along, as I did, with some of the most engaging storytelling I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. And nowhere inside will you be bothered with footnotes or stumble your way through academic mumbo jumbo. Thankfully, my friend and award-winning cartoonist Tim Hartman agreed to provide the magnificent maps and outstanding caricatures that grace this book.

Discovering Gettysburg is, I fully admit, rather unconventional. But so is the place, the event, and the experience of that hallowed ground.




“It’s always great to find a new book on a town that many love and have come to call home. . . . This book will hold a place on my bookcase to remind me of all the people and organizations the author has come in contact with in his travels.” – Civil War News

"Discovering Gettysburg provides a new and unique perspective that gives more than enough to whet the appetite and inform the insight of the experienced visitor or novice learner alike...A thought-provoking addition to the pantheon of Gettysburg literature and is well worth a read." - On Point, The Journal of Army History

"Discovering Gettysburg is witty, entertaining, educational, and downright fun!" - Scott L. Mingus, Sr., award-winning author of Flames beyond Gettysburg, and co-author of The Second Battle of Gettysburg: The Confederate Victory that Opened the Door to Gettysburg

"Reading it makes me want to jump in the car and drive on down for another visit." - Tom Huntington, award-winning author of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg

"Discovering Gettysburg is an out-of-the-ordinary approach to the famous battlefield and town. If you want to see the park in a new light―and take a peek behind the scenes―this is the perfect book to accompany your journey." - Terry Reimer, Director of Research, National Museum of Civil War Medicine

“If you’re thinking of visiting Gettysburg yourself, it’s a good place to start.” – Pittsburgh City Paper

"Insightful, occasionally humorous, and often deeply personal, Discovering Gettysburg is sure to entrance the novice and expert alike. Stephen Coleman has provided an eminently readable work that gets us a little closer to understanding why Americans are so captivated and fascinated by the Battle of Gettysburg. It is well worth the read." (Christopher Gwinn, Gettysburg, PA)

"Stephen Coleman’s Discovering Gettysburg is the most unique and entertaining book on the battle and its related personalities (then and now) I have ever read. The author’s down-to-earth and often whimsical writing style is a breath of fresh air every reader will welcome. Even experienced students of the battle will smile and nod as they read along. And Tim Hartman’s illustrations are simply first-rate. Be forewarned: After you read this book, you will almost certainly want to schedule a trip to visit Gettysburg." (J. David Petruzzi, author of The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest)



About the Author: Stephen Coleman has spent most of his adult life as a professor of theater at the University of Pittsburgh. A specialist in Shakespeare, acting, directing, and stage combat, he taught for more than 30 years and practiced his craft on stage and screen, including roles in Silence of the Lambs, where he had the pleasure of being literally defaced by the epicurean Hannibal Lecter and in the PBS Series The War That Made America, where as the ill-fated General Braddock he was shot from the back of a horse. It was only after he retired that he discovered a new interest: The Civil War, and especially, Gettysburg. About the Illustrator: Tom Hartman is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has been professionally acting, singing, writing, cartooning, and storytelling since 1982. Though known primarily for his work on the stage, including nearly 300 plays and musicals, including appearances on Broadway in A Tale of Two Cities and the Tony nominated Finian’s Rainbow, Tim’s favorite job is performing his own brand of stand-up comedy storytelling for children and family audiences. He is also an award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator whose work has appeared widely in newspapers.