For 130 years historians and military strategists have been obsessed by the battle of Chancellorsville. It began with an audaciously planned stroke by Union general Joe Hooker as he sent his army across the Rappahannock River and around Robert E. Lee's lines. It ended with that same army fleeing back in near total disarray -- and Hooker's reputation in ruins. This splendid account of Chancellorsville -- the first in more than 35 years -- explains Lee's most brilliant victory even as it places the battle within the larger canvas of the Civil War. Drawing on a wealth of first-hand sources, it creates a novelistic chronicle of tactics and characters while it retraces every thrust and parry of the two armies and the fateful decisions of their commanders, from Hooker's glaring display of moral weakness to the inspired risk-taking of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who was mortally wounded by friendly fire. At once impassioned and gracefully balanced, Chancellorsville 1863 is a grand achievement in Civil War history.