I purchased an amazing new book entitled “On Great Fields, The Life and Unlikely Heroism of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,” by Ronald C. White. The bookstore on the campus of Bowdoin College has a large display of the book, which brought it to my attention. It is an extensive history of Gen. Chamberlain from his birth until his death.

The cover of “On Great Fields, The Life and Unlikely Heroism of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,” by Ronald C. White, Courtesy image

We all know that he was a great man and general, however, the book goes into detail about his bold and innovative thinking and how he revolutionized many aspects surrounding his life including his impact on Bowdoin College as president and the State of Maine as governor. As a Brunswick resident there is so much interesting information about the town and Bowdoin College’s early years.

I have completed reading/listening to more than 200 great audiobooks on Audible in the past few years, many of them historical gems. I have never really been able to enjoy reading in print, as it has been a struggle during my life for some unknown reason. In the past, I would not even pick up a book containing 380-plus pages. However, I was determined to get through this book if it took me a month. I finished it in only 5 days, with more than 100 pages read each of the first two days alone. I have never accomplished this before. The combination of Ronald C. White’s great writing style, expertise, and my deep interest in Joshua Chamberlain made that possible. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book as much as I have.

As I read through the book, many aspects of my life became relevant. These include membership in First Parish Church; being a member of the board of directors of Pine Grove Cemetery; personally decorating General Chamberlain’s grave with flowers and holiday decorations throughout the year; having spent 16 years in Virginia, including living on land once owned by George Washington; having traveled to Gettysburg twice; enjoying many of the books the author mentioned (especially family friend and local author the late John Pullen’s book, “The Twentieth Maine,” which is my favorite book about the life of soldiers during the Civil War in regard to its vivid descriptions of the day-to-day sacrifices and danger facing the average solder); and many others.

This has been an unexpected joy in my life. I am now going to turn to Ronald C. White’s books on Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. I lived in Illinois where we were taught early and often about President Lincoln, who holds my highest admiration. I also lived in New York City, Grant’s final resting place. I read the book that he wrote at the end of his life with great interest and respect. According to research, he finished it three days before he passed away and wrote it on paper by hand with very few corrections over time.

I have long been fascinated by history. In my youth, the only books that caught my interest were about famous characters in history. In Virginia, the home state of nine presidents, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and so much history surrounding our country’s early years, my father took the time to make sure that I got to see most of these places. We traveled to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and the major Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, where I was taken back in time to relive these battles.

I am very fortunate to have so many long-term memories about history from my life and I enjoy them even more today. This book helped revive and enhance many of them. For that I am grateful. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Joshue Lawrence Chamberlain, the Civil War, and Brunswick, Maine, and U.S. history.

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