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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A General's Memoirs
I am reviewing the Library of America edition of Sherman's Memoirs
In 1875 General William Sherman published the first edition of his Memoirs. They were controversial. Eleven years later Sherman published his second edition, with two new chapters, and appendixes. To be sure the memoirs remained controversial. Even today there seems to be no middle ground. He...
Published on August 18, 2000 by Michael J. Connor

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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sherman's gives a clinical summary of his life
After reading Shelby Foote's huge narrative of the civil war, I was fascinated about Sherman. This book did not live up to my expectations, partly because I wanted more feelings, and reasoning behind the actions. I wanted to get into his head. What you get instead is a real detailed account, obviously taken from journal entries and official correspondence. The only...
Published on April 28, 1999 by mjonesman@aol.com


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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A General's Memoirs, August 18, 2000
By 
I am reviewing the Library of America edition of Sherman's Memoirs
In 1875 General William Sherman published the first edition of his Memoirs. They were controversial. Eleven years later Sherman published his second edition, with two new chapters, and appendixes. To be sure the memoirs remained controversial. Even today there seems to be no middle ground. He is either a great general, or an overrated one. He is either "hailed as a prophet of modern war or condemned as a modern barbarism." There have been full scale biographies and books about his campaigns, but none are as rewarding as these memoirs.
The chapters which interested me the most were the ones where Sherman is most emotionally involved. In Chapter 7 Sherman writes of his time at the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. Sherman gives a "Clay Whig" description of that state's secession, and how hard he took it. Another chapter which I found thrilling is Chapter 19. On page 601 Sherman quotes a letter he wrote to Atlanta's Mayor James Calhoun and others: "You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and all those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out."
I recommend the Library of America edition of Sherman's Memoirs because it reprints the second edition. Make sure you buy a reprint of the second edition because the it includes information that was not included in the first edition.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most interesting characters of the Civil War, September 16, 2003
By 
After the Civil War, there were many public misunderstandings and misrepresentations about General William T. Sherman. Secretary of War Stanton had caused to be published certain opinions of his that Sherman had messed things up, and many supporters of General Grant gave him all the credit for Sherman's famous march to the sea and Atlanta campaign (which was entirely Sherman's idea). Partly to dispel popular misconceptions about him, and partly to provide future historians with a great primary resource (which intention he states in the opening pages of this work), General Sherman decided to undertake the writing of his memoirs, and this is the result.

The historical value of these memoirs is enormous. Sherman contributed a great deal to the war, and was partially responsible for the war ending when it did. He conducted one of the most brilliant military campaigns in modern history (actually, they were three campaigns--Atlanta, Savannah, and the Carolinas) and accomplished what many considered to be the impossible. His policy of total war, applied in the South, was utilized by Sheridan in the Shenandoah, and was later slightly modified to be used against the Indians. Thanks to his memoirs, we have a step-by-step account of how this policy developed.

Sherman's work is engaging and very to the point. He is meticulous almost to a fault in his quest for accuracy and detail. His writing is very, very good, and easy to read. Also, Sherman truly (I believe) endeavored to be completely objective in his evaluations, and accomplished this end better even than most modern historians. He is quick to give praise and slow to censure, but is not afraid to record the failures of his subordinates when necessary. He sometimes points out things they could have done better, but is never overly critical of them. He even admits that he made mistakes sometimes. In fact, I believe this is one of the most objective and fair autobiographies I have ever read. Sherman had much reason to dislike many people, but never, in reading this work, did I find a single instance of him trying to debunk the character of any man. Even Stanton, the man who falsely represented Sherman's actions, receives fair treatment at the general's hands.

William T. Sherman is a very colorful figure in Civil War history. He may well be one of the most complex and intriguing individuals of the war. To some, he is a barbarian; to others, a deliverer. He is immensely quotable, and was very opinionated and outspoken. If you're contemplating studying the Civil War, do not be put off by this book's length. Far from being a dry account of a man's recollections, this is a very engaging and very worthwhile autobiography, and any student of the war will profit by reading it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Source Material, Difficult Read, May 6, 2000
By 
Nick Nalepa (Greenville, SC, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Unfortunately General Sherman did not share General Grant's natural ability with the pen. General Sherman's book is a collection of his major wartime correspondence linked together by his narrative. This provides a quite fascinating look at Sherman's career for the historian of both the professional or "armchair" variety, but may make for a more tedious read for the common enthusiast. Nevertheless, many gems are contained in the pages of this blunt and straightforward story. The memoirs are the source of all his famous quotes and misquotes that are popularly repeated, such as "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it".
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book by a Remarkanle Man, May 4, 2006
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Sherman wrote well.

Compared to the flowery prose of others from this era, Sherman uses clear and simple words that carry well to the modern age. Further, he has a fascinating story to tell of shipwrecks, banking disasters, gold discoveries and then of course The War.

I would recommend this to those who are already more than familiar with the American Civil War. What we see here is one man's view and you need to understand that he had his own opinions.

The Battle of Chattanooga is perhaps the most obvious example of this. Was Sherman's attack really the cause the Rebel center collapsed? He seems to have honestly thought so. Most scholars take exception.

This is simply a limitation of the memoir form. You should not take all that he has written as historical fact, but as the honest recollections of a man who was there at the critical moments of the War.

I recommend it. At its best, it is like reading a letter from a long-gone uncle about his long-ago adventures.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sherman's gives a clinical summary of his life, April 28, 1999
After reading Shelby Foote's huge narrative of the civil war, I was fascinated about Sherman. This book did not live up to my expectations, partly because I wanted more feelings, and reasoning behind the actions. I wanted to get into his head. What you get instead is a real detailed account, obviously taken from journal entries and official correspondence. The only candid or in-depth portions of the book are when Sherman gives derrogatory accounts of the performance of some of the officers. Given that criticism, it is still fascinating, yet dry and long reading. His time in California during the Mexican War is fascinating. The real tragedy of the book is that it stops at the end of the civil war. I understand he did some interesting things after the war, but I guess you have to find another source for that.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, GREAT PUBLISHING!, August 4, 2003
By 
"nashja3" (Westmont, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
The Library of America edition of Sherman's Memoirs is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. The man had a brilliant mind. He was efficient in all that he put his hand too. And, if he failed in some ways, he cleaned up his messes and went on his way. The war would probably have lasted forever if he hadn't had the foresight, the leadership ability, the stamina, and just plain guts. But he knew how to end the war, and he had no illusions that he was playing at war. He knew it was hell, and he did what he had to do. I loved the dated letters and wires between the various players on the scene. Thank God Sherman saved these written pieces of history for us. If he hadn't, his memoirs would have only been from his point of view. And, when something he's telling us is from his memory only, he states it as such. If you are going to war, it's not a good idea to play at it. Sherman knew that. And biding his time, he was given the chance by U.S. Grant to end this. If he hadn't been elected to take his "show on the road" we would probably be living today in a divided, bickering country, and without the power we enjoy as a nation. And, by the way, Grant was brilliant enough and his ego was intact enough so that he was able to award the job of sweeping up Georgia and the Carolinas to the best man--Sherman.
Regarding the publishing, it's about time I didn't have to crack open the binding to read a book. Because the binding is sewn, it opens flat to any page you choose. The paper is thin to keep the book from being too heavy and large. The paper is also acid free so it will not yellow and become brittle with age. The cloth binding is exquisite--designed and manufactured in Holland; it is Rayon, which probably will last forever. Even the dusk jacket is quality paper. That's how my books were when I was young, and that's why I don't remember ever having to break the binding open in any of my books, no matter how large they were. It's a pleasure to be able to lay on my stomach and read a book without having to hold it in place. If you want to write in your books, buy cheaper versions. Don't complain when you receive a gem.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, no nonsense source material for better readers., May 19, 2000
Written by General W.T. Sherman himself; first published less than a decade after the end of the Civil War. Although 1100+ pages, every paragraph of this book is fascinating. While it can't possibly be read in one sitting it's very difficult to put down.
In character with the efficency of organization he was known for in managing every aspect of his life, this book is pure information, fact, personal insights, important correspondence, personal recollections of conversations with relevant historic figures and is, at times very amusing.
Rather than dealing with his whole life, this book was written as a first hand account detailing events of the Civil War, particularly the armies under his direct command as well as events leading up to the Civil War and relevant political events after the war.
Straightforward and efficient, no fluff.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Most Magnificent Army in Existence", December 29, 2003
By 
Buce (Palookaville) - See all my reviews
"What Dercyllidas said of the court of Persia may be applied to that of several European princes, that he saw there much splendor but little strength, and many servants but few soldiers." So Adam Smith (although it was not Dercyllidas but Antiochus). In an anecdote, he thereby captures the essence of classic small-r Republicanism: a society of individuals who are fit, self-sufficient -- and armed. It is the model that gives such sentimental appeal to the campaign for the right to bear arms.
Was there ever such a society? Doubtful. But if you wanted to find one, you would have done well to show up on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. a little after 9 a.m. on the morning of the 23d of April, 1865, to review the Army of the West in review formation behind its commander, William Tecumseh Sherman. Here, from his memoirs, is Sherman's own account.
"When I reached the Treasury-building, and looked back, the sight was simply magnificent: The column was compact, and the glittering muskets looked like a solid mass of steel, moving with the regularity of a pendulum. . . . It was, in my judgment, the most magnificent army in existence - sixty-five thousand men, in splendid physique, who had just completed a march of nearly two thousand miles in a hostile country, in good drill, and who realized that they were being closely scrutinized by thousands of their fellow-countrymen and by foreigners. . . . The steadiness and firmness of the tread, the careful dress on the guides, the uniform intervals between the companies, all eyes directly to the front, and the tattered and bullet-riven flags, festooned with flowers, all attracted universal notice. Many good people, up to that time, had looked upon our Western Army as a sort of mob; but the world then saw, and recognized the fact, that it was an army kin the proper sense, well organized, well commanded and disciplined, and there was no wonder that it had swept through the South like a tornado."
Sherman had reason to be proud. One assumes that his name still evokes bitter memories around Atlanta where he tore up and twisted so many miles of rail track. But Sherman was, ironically, the kind of general who is good for victor and vanquished alike. He had the temperament of a fighter, but he knew that the goal of fighting was not to shed blood, but only to win. His campaigns inflicted legendary damage but most of it was swift and highly focused. There was some pillage, but even the pillage seems to have been planned and organized and permitted only to the extent necessary for the campaign. In all the accounts that I have seen, there is little or no talk of rape.
It is a commonplace that good soldiers make bad writers, but the evidence is not so clear. There is a reason why Caesar and Xenophon persist as staples of the classical curriculum. Ulysses Grant, who was said to write military orders so clear that they could not be misunderstood, himself produced a military memoir of great vigor and force. But it is hard to think of anything that will compare with Sherman's own account - particularly his narrative of the long march from Lookout Mountain across George and then up through the Carolinas to the Capital and the end of the war. If there ever was a time to be optimistic about the future of a free citizenry, surely the day of that great parade was the day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Grant but pretty good, February 4, 2006
By 
Tom Munro "tomfrombrunswick" (Melbourne, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
General Grant wrote his memoirs and they were probably the best account of a war written by a general. In reading other memoirs of the war one thinks of Grant and one is usually disapointed.

Sherman's book lacks the readability of Grant. There will be a narrative and then Sherman will quote verbatem series of written order or correspondence or quote tables of battlefield losses. It tends to break up the narrative and make his book more of a technical manual. As well he writes to a contemporary audience and assumes that most people know what he is talking about. Thus his account of the battle of Shiloh is brief with a note indicating that there is not real need to say more as everyone knew what happened.

Despite these problems from the point of view of readability the book is fascinating history. To an outsider the role of a general is that of a dashing figure who leads troops to battle. Sherman's book illustrates how much the role of a general is a day to day slog filled with huge amounts of correspondence over supplies, allocation of trains, keeping subordinates informed of what is going on and the minuture of managing an army. He appears to have kept copies of all his correspondence, all orders and all troop details. When talking about his campaigns he quotes extensively from all this material. In reading it one gets a good sense of what his job was and the mechanics of leadership.

The book is best when Sherman describes his campaigns after Grant moved to the East. The decision to march to the sea especially is good. It was a brave decision to break free of the railway system which had supplied Sherman and to live of the land. Grant was concerned but Sherman was totally confident that the confederates could not defeat him in the field and that it was more likely to end the war. In regard to each engagement Sherman does not waffle or generalise. He argues about each engagment and produces the casualtie figures to explain if he won or lost or how things went.

Whilst not a narrative which keeps you spellbound it is a history which allows you to see how the civil war was fought. From that point of view a fascinating read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars timeless lessons, November 9, 2006
Clearly historians and civil war buffs will acknowledge the brilliance of this memoir for its obvious window into the mind of this most important figure of his time.

I didn't come to this as either one of the former,but as a reader interested in understanding how this man accomplished the most decisive strokes in the war with such skill.

The greatness of book lies not so much in its explanation of military strategy(which it is) but the powerful definition of the principles of freedom as expressed through a common foot soldier.

Sherman understood that no elitist and patrician society could stand however strong there reputation ,against a soldier who fought for this principle.

I found it inciteful that Shermans experience in the prewar south,and his views of its imbalanced society, became more valuable in breaking it than his geographical knowledge.

That Lincoln approved Shermans plan to march through the heart of the confedreacy at the disapproval of all his advisors shows his wisdom to Shermans argument that the south was a shell,and hollow inside.

Grants reluctance to this plan,which he approved only out of his loyalty to Sherman, is poignant to read.Grant thought he'd never see his best friend again.

The genius of Sherman was his utter conviction in the goodness of men to destroy that which was evil,knowing that when his men saw not the soldiery of the south,but its hideous society,he needn't do more to motivate them.

The miserable condition of slavery was known,but the site of 90 percent of a white population virtually no better off provided Sherman with a civilian population unable and unwilling to resist.Noone but Sherman thought this important,and that his diary records this as a current fact and not analysis years later is powerful reading.

Defeating the confedracy on this march with no major battles and losing but 100 men of his 62,000, told the south, as well as the north the myth of southern military advantage.

Sherman became so feared ,Southern commanders as well as thier soldiers fled before him,offering almost no opposition.

Shermans Army of the West,recruited and trained by him,became the most feared army in the world,for it fought under the true belief of a free people against real evil.

His own words to that effect are awe inspiring.
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Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (Complete and Unabridged)
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (Complete and Unabridged) by William T. Sherman (Paperback - March 27, 2012)
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