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Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman Hardcover – July 1, 2014
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“Sherman’s standing in American history is formidable. . . . It is hard to imagine any other biography capturing it all in such a concise and enlightening fashion.”—National Review
“A sharply drawn and propulsive march through the tortured psyche of the man.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[O’Connell’s] narrative of the March to the Sea is perhaps the best I have ever read.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“William Tecumseh Sherman is one of the great characters in American history—protean, highly effective, cunning, outrageous, and in every way memorable. He has found just the right biographer in Robert L. O’Connell. Fierce Patriot is a surprising, clever, wise, and powerful book.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World
“For those who think they know a lot about William Tecumseh Sherman, this book will be a revelation. Those who are meeting him for the first time will be equally mesmerized.”—Thomas Fleming, author of A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War
“To his family and friends he was Cump; to his soldiers he was Uncle Billy; to generations of Southern whites he was the devil incarnate. But to biographer Robert L. O’Connell, William T. Sherman was the quintessential nineteenth-century American: full of energy, constantly on the move, pragmatic, adaptable, determined to overcome all obstacles, a nationalist and patriot who teamed with Grant and Lincoln to win the Civil War and launch America as a world power. This readable biography offers new insights on Sherman as a husband and father as well as a master strategist and leader.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
“A fascinating dissection of the multifaceted lives of William Tecumseh Sherman—military genius, brilliant organizer, inspired observer, and occasionally wayward husband. Sherman, O’Connell reminds us, was as brilliantly unpredictable on the battlefield as he was off it.”—Victor Davis Hanson, The Hoover Institution, author of The Soul of Battle and Ripples of Battle
“William Tecumseh Sherman has to be our premier grand strategist, who set unexpectedly bold boundaries, not just for war but for peace, and kept to them. In Fierce Patriot, Robert L. O’Connell has fashioned a remarkable, and remarkably original, portrait of one of the people who truly defined America.”—Robert Cowley, founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History
“William Tecumseh Sherman was the most fiery, complicated, and inconsistent of America’s great generals. In Robert L. O’Connell’s aptly titled Fierce Patriot, he brings this conflicted American hero vividly to life. For both the Civil War buff and the general reader, Fierce Patriot offers new and arresting insights into this remarkable figure and his impact on the world in which he lived.”—Charles Bracelen Flood, author of Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War
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Top Customer Reviews
First, it is always interesting. The author has a lightness in style and an uusual ability to organize and summarize topics. To pick a few examples; he explains the developments in rifles and the resulting impacts on how commanders positioned troops and soldiers adapted in a compact way that is striking and very clear. Again and again, this skill enlivens the flow of the narrative without disrupting it. I can't recall a book on military history that made the details of campaigns and battles so easy to follow.
The core of the book is, of course, the presentation of Sherman's career and personality. The writer made a unusual choice that I think works very well; he separates the military phase of his life as the first and main part of the book and addresses his later career and the very complex psychodramas of relationships within his family circle in other ones. This helpfully unclutters the flow of the narrative, though it is quite arguable that it obscures interactions and is selective in choosing events.
Sherman comes across as not particularly self-aware, limited in his empathy and insight, and in many ways not an interesting character. But he was the opposite of this in his growth as a commander. The resulting portrayal abstracts the key historical threads of his life very vividly and convincingly, without neglecting the personal dimensions and resonances.Read more ›
This brief quotation captures a great deal both about Sherman (1820 -- 1891) and about the book. O'Connell develops the paradoxes of Sherman's character which resist easy summation. O'Connell shows the "Uncle Billy" of popular renown, in his own time and ours, but he also shows how this character was a construct by a highly theatrical Sherman. His account is strongly but critically admiring of Sherman. O'Connell frequently refers to various of his actions as "good Billy, bad Billy". O'Connell also writes in a colloquial, punchy style that makes the book a delight to read and highly accessible for a complex subject.
In addition to the free-wheeling writing style, O'Connell's biography of Sherman is idiosyncratic in its organization. O'Connell concluded that writing a straightforward chronological biography of Sherman would be "bound to create confusion." He found that "three separate story lines, each deserving independent development" emerged from Sherman's life. Accordingly, O'Connell arranges his book topically rather than chronologically in three large sections. The organization produces a clear, well-flowing narrative of Sherman's accomplishments and life but at a cost. First, the book includes a substantial degree of repetition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The narrative is disjointed; it is difficult to get a clear picture of Sherman, particularly how the elder Sherman was shaped by the younger Sherman. Read morePublished 4 days ago by N. Gary
william tecumseh sherman (and it must be said in tandem with u.s. grant) is most probably the father of modern warfare tactics through the first and second world wars. Read morePublished 8 days ago by m. miller
Great book! You get insights into how he became the person of history.Published 12 days ago by Mary
Robert L. O'Connell brings new life into the fascinating person of William Tecumseh Sherman. I learned more than I knew previously about Sherman, his early life, his personal life,... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Henry Mclaughlin
Great read. Couldn't put it down. An impetus for future topic and author products.Published 1 month ago by charlie johnson
This the best historical novel I have read. Since my last name is Sherman, I maybe a bit partialPublished 2 months ago by Michael S.
Not going to finish this one. A friend recommended his "biography", so before I could get clarification I bought this one, the latest. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sactomike
It has a forced, heavy-handed analysis of Sherman, the author frequently interrupting the story to give your his judgment of Sherman (which is not especially wise) instead of just... Read morePublished 2 months ago by ThinkBeforeReviewing
I'm an old Civil War Buff, & have read much on Sherman @ least 2 prior biographies. This is the best I have ever read. It really puts flesh on his bones. Read morePublished 3 months ago by R. Roland Brockmeyer