This isn't the first biography to be written on Confederate General James Longstreet, but it's the best--and certainly the one that pays the most attention to Longstreet's performance as a military leader. Historian Jeffry D. Wert aims to rehabilitate Longstreet's reputation, which traditionally has suffered in comparison to those of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Some Southern partisans have blamed Longstreet unfairly for the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg; Wert corrects the record here. He is not uncritical of Longstreet's record, but he rightly suggests that if Lee had followed Longstreet's advice, the battle's outcome might have been different.
The facts of history cannot be changed, however, and Wert musters them on these pages to advance a bold claim: "Longstreet, not Jackson, was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side." Wert describes his subject as strategically aggressive, but tactically reserved. The bulk of the book appropriately focuses on the Civil War, but Wert also briefly delves into Longstreet's life before and after it. Most interestingly, it was framed by a friendship with Ulysses S. Grant, formed at West Point and continuing into old age. Longstreet even served in the Grant administration--an act that called into question his loyalty to the Lost Cause, and explains in part why Wert's biography is a welcome antidote to much of what has been written about this controversial figure. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
This is the most comprehensive military biography to date of the man Robert E. Lee called "my war horse." Wert ( Mosby's Rangers ) makes a strong case for James Longstreet (1821-1904) as the best corps commander on either side of the Civil War. A superb battle captain and a masterful tactician, he clearly recognized the limitations of the offensive under mid-19th century conditions. For Longstreet, Gettyburg in particular was not an opportunity, but a mistake. Wert argues convincingly that events vindicated Longstreet's opposition to Lee's insistence on repeatedly attacking the strong Union positions. Longstreet also recognized more clearly than most of his Confederate contemporaries that war was not an absolute. He accepted the political consequences of military defeat; his reconciliation with the restored Union brought him the open contempt of irreconcilables like Jubal Early. The resulting controversies obscured Longstreet's military reputation. This work restores a balanced view of the career of one of America's great soldiers. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.