Through Blood and Fire: Selected Civil War Papers of Major General Joshua Chamberlain, by Mark Nesbitt,Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1996, $19.95.
Mark Nesbitt, best known for his best-selling Ghosts of Gettysburg series, has turned his attention to Maj. Gen. JoshuaChamberlain, a subject that has taken on almost as spiritual (and popular) an aura as those other-worldly specters.
First popularized by Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize?winning novel, The Killer Angels, and since then portrayed in movies andbooks, Joshua Chamberlain has become almost as recognizable a name as Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.Whether that exalted status is deserved is a matter of opinion, though it cannot be denied that Chamberlain was a fascinatingindividual.
Some excellent books have been written about Chamberlain and the regiment he commanded, the 20th Maine. Some of thebest writing about this famed regiment came from Chamberlain’s own pen, in such works as Passing of the Armies.Unfortunately, there are problems with this latest work. Some are technical, such as the blurred maps and photos, and someare to be found in the text, such as a tendency to jump from past to present tense, and back again.
Still, for someone interested in Chamberlain and the 20th Maine, Through Blood and Fire is another view of the famousregiment and its even more famous commander.
B. Keith Toney