Age: Jim is 71, Sue is 64
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City in which you reside: Johnstown, Pa.
Day job: Jim is safety manager at Carnegie Mellon University, Sue is a travel consultant at AAA
Book title: "So You Think You Know Antietam? The Stories Behind America's Bloodiest Day."
Genre: A reviewer of our Gettysburg book, after which the Antietam book was patterned, said that the book "wears many hats." Some have called it a photography book, others a book of battle trivia and some a travel guide. Our previous book, "So You Think You Know Gettysburg?" received the bronze award in ForeWord Reviews' 2010 Book of the Year Awards in the Travel Guide category, so that would probably be the best fit for "So You Think You Know Antietam?," as well.
Quick synopsis of book: "So You Think You Know Antietam?" reveals the stories behind Antietam's 96 monuments and discusses in detail the people, places and events that defined the battle. Ten color-coded chapters display nearly 300 color photos, maps and GPS coordinates of all monument locations for readers who plan to use "So You Think You Know Antietam?" as a guide on a visit to Antietam National Battlefield.
Publisher: John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Editor's note: The Gindlespergers wrote these answers as a team.
You wrote a similar book, "So You Think You Know Gettysburg" about the Gettysburg National Military Park. Why Antietam?
There were actually a couple of things that got us interested. One, we've visited the area so many times that it was just natural that we thought of Antietam when we looked for another battlefield to write about. Also, it's not that far from our home, so it was easy to get to. But it is such a beautiful battlefield, if you can call a battlefield beautiful, that it is hard not to fall in love with the place. And for the casual visitor, the battle is easy to follow and understand, since it is actually three smaller and separate battles that took place throughout the day. And how can somebody not be interested in a battle that was the worst in our country's history from a casualty standpoint?
A lot of experts say "Write about what you know." Does that apply to your book? How?
It does, and that's good advice. We can't imagine writing about something that we didn't really know much about because the enthusiasm wouldn't be there. And unless you are enthusiastic about it, why do it in the first place? We have been visiting Civil War battlefields for more than 25 years, and Antietam is probably our second most visited place after Gettysburg. This is the second book we have worked on together, and Jim has written three others, two of which have won awards and one of which was featured on the Discovery Channel and was optioned by Warner Brothers. We both have ancestors who fought in the Civil War, and we were represented on both sides, although none fought at Antietam. So our love affair with Civil War battlefields was established a long time ago. But there is still so much we want to learn about it. It was a terrible time for our country, but a fascinating period nonetheless.
How long did it take you research the book?
We didn't really start out to write a book, so the research was pretty much what we accumulated over our many visits to Antietam. If we were to condense it into one solid time period, all together it probably took about a year of actual research. We already had the photos from the many times we had previously visited. We just added a few from more recent visits.
What do you think will surprise readers the most about Antietam?
There are so many little-known stories about the battle that most people probably haven't heard. We only know of them because of either our research or the fact that we accumulated these stories over the years. Some are amusing, some are poignant. But we find them all interesting.
The story of the 51st Pennsylvania at the Burnside Bridge, or the unusual story behind the monument to the 132nd Pennsylvania at the Sunken Road, for instance. Or the story behind the National Cemetery and the controversy about burying Confederate soldiers there. Most people are unaware of the story concerning the boulder in the cemetery on which Robert E. Lee supposedly stood to observe the battle, and the surprising way the true story was revealed.