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Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography Paperback – March 15, 1994
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"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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- W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ., Ruston
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hurst presents all of the above in a very descriptive manner. What is truly complementary to Hurst is that he presents a fairly evenhanded story of Forrest. His discussion of the Fort Pillow Massacre, in which Forrest's command killed hundreds of surrendering black Union soldiers, is the best example of Hurst's approach. While not attempting to excuse Forrest's conduct in any way, Hurst does put the massacre into the proper historical prespective.
The main fault of the book is its lack of maps. Many of Forrest's campaigns are complicated and difficult to understand because of the almost complete absence of maps. There are only 2 battle maps.
All in all it is a fine book.
Though it indeed lacks maps, the knowledgeable student of the War for Southern Independence will find those included to be sufficient. The work is not, as some have intimated in these reviews, unfair or essentially negative in its presentation of the man, Forrest.
On the contary, Forrest fans will find it delightfully free of the anti-Forrest rancor which politically correct historical revisionsists are so famous for. Hurst understands that the so-called "distasteful activities" were 100% legal at the time, and presents them without undue bias. Forrest is in no way presented as any more racist than his contemporaries, and shown as he was, significantly more compassionate toward African Ameicans than many in these reviews would suggest (Did they even read the book? -- one wonders).
His celebrated ruthlessness in a fight is balanced by a historically well-established backwoods chivalry which markedly contrasts this uneducated but brilliant man (6 mo. total formal schooling), with some of his contemporaries such as the war-criminal-by-his-own-admission, Sherman. The admiration which he earned from his troops is also well-documented, though he accurately is depicted in this work as having shot both deserters and cowards in battle.
Forrest's amazing ability to size up situations at a glance, to see the unseen part of the field, and to comprehend distances and the geometry of operational and tactical logistics is well- covered.
Several longstanding misconceptions are properly laid to rest in this work, among them, that Forrest founded the Kuklos Klan - He did not.Read more ›
Only Forrest does not fit that stereotypical Southern Gentleman. He was born in a log-cabin (as was Lincoln and Jefferson Davis); he was a failed businessman same as Grant. He was hard living, coarse like Sherman and Sheridan. And quite possibly one of the most complex figures to come out of the period. He did not fight in the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee, which keeps him out of the general attention of those learning about the Civil War. His first notable occurrence in the Civil War was the Fort Pillow Incident, where - still today we do not understand what happened - how black and white men supposedly surrendering were put to death by Forrest's command. Jefferson David never understood Forrest's guerrilla-like methods of fighting - but one could not dispute the results. He believed calvary men were not as JEB Stuart, dashing figures leading gallant charges, but were fighting men who used horses to get from point A to point B, "the firstest with the mostest" as he is often misquoted saying. As such, military tactics are still questioned and studied today.Read more ›
The life story of a man who possessed a genius for battle and was quite comfortable as a slave trader, committer of atrocity and founder of the Ku Klux Klan is fascinating. A common thread runs through all those roles: Nathan Bedford Forrest's willingness to do whatever it took to achieve his goal and a ferocious ability to focus on that course of action without regard to any distractions -- including morality or humanity.
Forrests genius for battle is explained in detail. His ability to organize men, motivate them and then use them as an instrument for war was surpassed by few in our Civil War (and perhaps by none when considering brigade and division sized engagements). That a man unschooled in war could possess such an innate grasp of the success factors required to win battles lends credence to the thought that successful leaders are born rather than made (as does George McCllelan's ineptness on the battlefied -- from a man who was overschooled in the art of war). Forrest also accomplished his remarkable record (winning outright almost all of his engagements) often with inferior forces. His maxims "get their first with the most" and "war means fighting and fighting means killing" summarize the focus that guided his war making philosophy. Certainly a product of his times, his pre war life as a slave trader and post war role as KKK founder also reflect his singlemindedness. A man without means, he was determined to create wealth and position for himself and his family -- an no route offerred a more certain path to success than that of the slaver in the antebellum South.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read that this is one of the best biographies of NBF. I will agree with many of the reviewers...EXCELLENT READ!!! Read morePublished 18 days ago by Rychefan
Very interesting book on Forrest. In the news around here since PC crowd wants to destroy any memory of him im Memphis. Truth is a bit different than BS you hear in media. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rosco Butter
Fair and balanced. Forest was a good moral and complicated man. Who though lacking a formal education was a military genius. He was fair man for that time period in the south. Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Warren
Just finished this book. Quite interesting. I like this biography, for among other reasons, it describes: (1) Forrest's upbringing; (2) the environment in which he grew up; and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by foolish
A FINE BOOK! Clearly written by a fan of NBF and a rebel at heart. That said it's rather well documented and is probably as reasonable treatment as can be found of NBF. Read morePublished 8 months ago by kris littledale