July's best bet: High-Water Mark by Reese

I want to do justice to the most important work published this year, High-Water Mark: The 1862 Maryland Campaign in Strategic Perspective by Timothy J. Reese. It's out this month from Butternut and Blue.

Reese's analysis of the Maryland Campaign is the major contribution to understanding the subject in our lifetimes; there is nothing like it. In Sealed with Their Lives, he explained why and how the attack through Crampton's Gap was the master key to understanding events that followed. In High-Water Mark, he zooms out from the plan, the battle, and its aftermath to set material in a broader context, again with unique insights derived from his deep analytic powers.

I am taking my conclusions too far, perhaps, by saying that placing Antietam at the center of the Maryland campaign has stupefied Civil War historians and readers. Issues boiling under the surface of Sealed with Their Lives and High-Water Mark have to do with our bad habits as ACW readers and thinkers - matters Reese handles wonderfully.

High-Water Mark is going to be a difficult book to explain or justly summarize in this blog format. I want to spend some time with it. Until I work through that challenge, have a look at this.