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2020 News

The Wheatfield

November 13, 2020

Today, the Gettysburg Foundation announced a new Gettysburg-inspired book for young learners written by acclaimed stage and screen actor, playwright and author Stephen Lang. A special first edition printing of The Wheatfield, published by Applewood Books, will be on sale beginning Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, exclusively at the Museum Bookstore inside the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center.

Featuring Lang’s poetic writing and powerful illustrations by the young artists The Bros. Smith (Alex and Adrian), the book is aimed to delight readers young and old. A story of sacrifice, courage and selflessness, Lang’s first book The Wheatfield tells of Union Soldier and Medal of Honor awardee, James Jackson Purman, as he vividly recalls the Battle of Gettysburg and his fateful encounters with friends and foe. Returning to Gettysburg 50 years after the battle, Purman and other battle-weary Civil War veterans gather in harmony, stripping away their former allegiances to north and south in hopes of peaceful fellowship.

“What was so compelling to me about the story was the fact that, after he was severely wounded in bloody fighting in The Wheatfield, Purman was saved by a Confederate soldier, Tom Oliver, while the battle still raged,” said Lang, as to why he wrote the book. “Was this an enemy? A friend? Or can one be both? It struck me that in a personal and intimate way this was the story of the entire war. I felt that it would be challenging and useful to tell the story in a way that young people could understand because the themes or lessons of the story are both simple and beautiful: that no matter what our differences may be, no matter what divides us, there is a far deeper and more profound spirit of compassion and solidarity that binds us together as human beings, a lesson that we are never too young or old to learn. The fact is that a man reached out to ease another man’s suffering despite wearing a different colored uniform. It is the living embodiment of Abraham Lincoln’s words: ‘We are not enemies. We must not be enemies.’ The relevance to current events is obvious,” added Lang.


The Wheatfield Illustration by The Bros. Smith

The Wheatfield is beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written, and I’ll be presenting the book as a gift to my own granddaughter for Christmas, with hopes of it sparking her interest in learning more about our history,” said David Malgee, interim president of the Gettysburg Foundation. “We are glad to partner with Lang in promoting his book, as it correlates with our efforts to educate and reach the new generations to help them learn about our history and the Battle of Gettysburg and its relevance today,” added Malgee.

A longtime friend of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation and the town itself, Lang’s kinship with Gettysburg dates from his portrayal of General George Pickett in Ron Maxwell’s film Gettysburg. Lang has done countless readings, performances, interviews, speeches and appearances over the years. Lang explored the nature of heroism, both as author and actor in Beyond Glory, His Dark Land and The Wheatfield. His films include Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, Tombstone and Avatar. Receiving many honors for his work including the New York State Archives History Award, Lang is the recipient of the Gettysburg Foundation’s inaugural Kinsley Award in 2019, recognizing his dedication and commitment to the preservation of the battlefield and its history.

The Wheatfield Illustration by The Bros. Smith

The Gettysburg Foundation is pleased to partner with Lang to offer The Wheatfield at the Museum Bookstore in time for holiday gift buying. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center is located at 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, Pa.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book benefits the education and preservation mission of the Gettysburg Foundation.