That Furious Struggle is an interesting hybrid style of book which examines the May 1863 battle of Chancellorsville. It is both a battle study and a battlefield tour, and combines the two genres in a way that will appeal to readers with a wide range of knowledge about the battle.
In terms of the tour aspect of the book, it is extremely helpful due to the fact that Chancellorsville is a battleground that is preserved and viewed in sections and has had considerable alterations to it over the years, producing current viewsheds that make it extremely difficult to visualize the combat conditions.
The structure of the book is driven by the tour, as battle events are introduced primarily in order of the recommended tour stops. For example, the wounding of Stonewall Jackson is presented first. This seems as if it could be confusing, but throughout the book it is handled in a clear fashion. Current-day photos, period photos, maps specifically created for the book and other graphics make for an attractive and readable layout—it’s almost like a smaller-scale magazine. The size of the book and its paperback binding (plus highly-reasonable price) make it something that would be very convenient companion while touring the battlefield.
Co-authors Mackowski and White are co-founders of Savas Beatie’s “Emerging Civil War series,” which has similar-style books on battles and campaign, and has titles in progress on other related subjects. They have interesting backgrounds for the project and the books they’ve produced for it; Mackowski is a college professor of journalism and mass communication (he has created and produced the design and layout for books in the series), while White works professional as an historian. Both share backgrounds as historians at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, which includes the Chancellorsville battleground.
The personal knowledge gained by their intimate knowledge of the battlefield is a considerable plus and is readily apparent in this book. Out of the way, but important part of the battlefield are examined, such as Catharine Furnace, adding depth to a reader’s understanding of the battle, even if they haven’t set foot on the ground.
Title: That Furious Struggle: Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy,
May 1-4, 1863
Author: Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White
Publisher: Savas Beatie