The subtitle of this book is "The Parallel Lives of Joshua L. Chamberlain and E. Porter Alexander," but I am not sure why. Except they were both in the Civil War, they didn't seem to have 'parallel' lives.
Porter was a West Point graduate who made his way up in the pre-war U.S. Army, as an engineer and later as an artilleryman for the Confederacy. After the war he made a career in railroading.
Chamberlain was a religious student who became a professor and entered the war late, in 1862, as an infantry officer with a rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war he made a career in academia and politics.
I suspect the link' was the author just liked both individuals and decided to write a biography about them.
I became further disillusioned with the book when I noticed the author's bias toward the Confederacy. This is easy to find in books. Such authors, when describing battles, always list the casualties the Federal troops suffered, but never mention Confederate casualties, as if the Confederate army never had anyone killed or wounded.
Plus, the author retells the old myth of how Chamberlain was placed in charge of the final surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, and how he called his troops to the 'carry' to honor the Confederates as they marched past to surrender their arms. Historians have long pointed out no one knew of this until Chamberlain wrote "The Passing of the Armies" very late in his life. In fact, Gorden, the Confederate general in charge of the actual physical surrender, also never mentioned this scenario until after Chamberlain's book was published. Plus, numerous Federal officers and enlisted men, present at the surrender, also protested they had no memory of such actions taking place.
Lastly, although I found other problems, the author used the word "subaltern" numerous times throughout the book. The United States Army dropped the use of this term in 1800, sixty years before the Civil War, when it substituted the rank of second lieutenant for subaltern. Why did the author make such a mistake?
Still, this is an interesting biography of the two men, although better biographies of them exist.
I would also like to point out that Chamberlain is far from being the only Civil War general who 'rewrote' history to make himself look better. In fact, many of the biographies of generals from this war take extreme liberty with the truth. Many of them doing so for personal and/or political purposes. However, Alexander Porter's two books on his Civil War service are regarded as excellent and unbiased reports of what actually happened, and I recommend both to students of this war.