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  • On Great Fields

  • The Life and Unlikely Heroism of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
  • By: Ronald C. White
  • Narrated by: Ronald C. White
  • Length: 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)
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On Great Fields

By: Ronald C. White
Narrated by: Ronald C. White
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Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of A. Lincoln and American Ulysses comes the dramatic and definitive biography of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the history-altering professor turned Civil War hero.

“A vital and vivid portrait of an unlikely military hero who played a key role in the preservation of the Union and therefore in the making of modern America.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of And There Was Light

Before 1862, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain had rarely left his home state of Maine, where he was a trained minister and mild-mannered professor at Bowdoin College. His colleagues were shocked when he volunteered for the Union army, but he was undeterred and later became known as one of the North’s greatest heroes: On the second day at Gettysburg, after running out of ammunition at Little Round Top, he ordered his men to wield their bayonets in a desperate charge down a rocky slope that routed the Confederate attackers. Despite being wounded at Petersburg—and told by two surgeons he would die—Chamberlain survived the war, going on to be elected governor of Maine four times and serve as president of Bowdoin College.

How did a stuttering young boy come to be fluent in nine languages and even teach speech and rhetoric? How did a trained minister find his way to the battlefield? Award-winning historian Ronald C. White delves into these contradictions in this cradle-to-grave biography of General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from his upbringing in rural Maine to his tenacious, empathetic military leadership and his influential postwar public service, exploring a question that still plagues so many veterans: How do you make a civilian life of meaning after having experienced the extreme highs and lows of war?

Chamberlain is familiar to millions from Michael Shaara’s now-classic novel of the Civil War, The Killer Angels, and Ken Burns’s timeless miniseries The Civil War, but in this book, White captures the complex and inspiring man behind the hero. This gripping, impeccably researched portrait illuminates one of the most admired but least known figures in our nation’s bloodiest conflict.

©2023 Ronald C. White (P)2023 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“A vital and vivid portrait of an unlikely military hero who played a key role in the preservation of the Union and therefore in the making of modern America. From his bookish days as a professor at Bowdoin to the fields of Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain was a man of principle and of action, a surprising officer whose conviction and courage made all the difference. A marvelous book.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of And There Was Light

“This evocative biography of Joshua Chamberlain manages to be both dramatic and understated—like the great war hero himself. Readers hoping for a rousing account of Chamberlain’s heroics at Little Round Top will get not only a riveting, but a definitive, version of that battle-changing moment at Gettysburg. But White also opens a window onto the nineteenth-century worlds of military service, politics, and academia, which Chamberlain bestrode with a unique combination of drama and dignity fully reflected in the narrative.”—Harold Holzer, winner of the Lincoln Prize

“Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is one of the most famous soldiers who fought at the battle of Gettysburg. Ronald C. White chronicles that story and Chamberlain’s other Civil War exploits, but the distinguishing feature of this fine biography is its in-depth account of the varied achievements of this extraordinary American hero in a lifetime that ranged over more than eight decades.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

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