Although this is not a down-in-the-trenches narrative of tactical detail, it is nevertheless one which virtually everyone can appreciate as a basic account of these two events, so pivotal in our nation’s history. It is highly readable and captures the drama of our bloodiest single day and its momentous result.
Martin employs prose that occasionally becomes overly dramatic and excessively florid. He, too, frequently speculates as to what individuals, including President Lincoln, must have been thinking ... this work lacks the depth of research of James McPherson’s concise Crossroads of Freedom (2002) and the breadth of Stephen W. Sears’s classic Landscape Turned Red (1983). Yet the book may still be useful as a readable introduction for those unfamiliar with this crucial battle.
His deft human touch, evident throughout the narrative, makes for a complete sensory experience...But when Mr. Martin turns away from such details, he quickly gets lost ... hyperbolic ... kaleidoscopic and fragmented ... skewed ... Context and continuity are often lacking ... Readers interested in a soldier’s-eye view of Civil War combat will find aspects of A Fierce Glory rewarding. A satisfying narrative style, however, cannot raise the book to the level of a serious study of Antietam.