Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Let me start of by saying this is a very short book. It took me approximately 10 minutes to read the whole thing. But sometimes good things come in small packages.
The book starts out telling the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a college professor and colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War. At the battle of Gettysburg, he was told that he had to hold the end of a long troop line that spread along many miles. Chamberlain's platoon managed to successfully stop several Confederate attacks but time and limited supplies took it's toll on Chamberlain's command. The Confederates reformed and prepared for the final attack on Chamberlain's brigade. Chamberlain was now out of ammunition and had just found out that his commanding officers had all been killed. If he failed to hold his position the Union army would either have to surrender or would face enormous casualities. Chamberlian made the decision to make one last go at the Confederate army. He ordered his soldiers to fasten bayonettes at the ends of their rifles and had them charge the Confederate army as it prepared to attack. It was enough to fool the Confederates who assumed that the Union army must have galvanized support and ammunition and they decided to retreat, eventually surrendering to Chamberlain.
The basic premise of the book is that everyone plays an important role in the world. Even small, seemingly insignificant actions, can have a ripple effect that can make a huge difference in the world. Such as one University Professor guiding a ragtag band of soldiers with the simple instruction of "holding the line" turning out to be the difference between a Union or Confederate victory.
This book carries a powerful punch. I enjoyed the history lesson and the overall moral of the story. It's succinct nature can be viewed as both a positive and a negative. For some, like my husband, who really don't love to read, it provides a wonderful message in a less intimidating form than a thousand pag epic. But for those who like in depth discussions and multiple literary examples, this book will probably leave you a little less than satisified. Overall though, I would definately recommend it.