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Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Hardcover – September 30, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1St Edition edition (September 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451673280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451673289
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In Rebel Yell, Mr. Gwynne's easy, loping style wraps itself effortlessly around the particulars of Stonewall Jackson's life, from his back-of-the-mountain upbringing to the outburst of military genius in the Civil War. The result is a narrative vivid with detail and insight." (Wall Street Journal)

"In the magnificent Rebel Yell, one of the year's best biographies, writer S.C. Gwynne brings Jackson ferociously to life... His battle scenes are marvels of description and kinetic action. [He] brings a deep humanity to his portrayals of Jackson, his fellow Confederate generals and their Union adversaries... Gwynne's pages fly by, brimming with excitement and terror." (Newsday)

“Gwynne stirringly recreates the bloody, error-plagued battles of the early war and argues that Jackson’s legend galvanized the South, outmanned and outgunned, to keep fighting.” (New Yorker)

"An engaging narrative with a pace that never flags... Gwynne accomplishes a great deal in his clear and highly readable book... If you read everything about the Civil War -- or if you have read very little about the Civil War -- Rebel Yell is an excellent addition to your reading list." (Huffington Post)

"I've reviewed many books on the Civil War, and this is far and away the best biography of a Civil War general that I've read... If you're a Civil War buff -- as I am -- or if you're just interested in wonderful biographies -- as I am -- Rebel Yell is a must-read book. It reads like a novel, but it's based on extensive beyond belief research." (Huntington News)

"Gwynne’s portrait of Jackson is comprehensive, stirring, compelling....This well-researched portrait of a well-studied figure of the Civil War defies the odds and measurably adds to the scholarship surrounding Jackson and the conflict that defined him... The book is hard to put down." (The Dallas Morning News)

"Profoundly enlightening...The difference in Rebel Yell is...the historical sweep, the small touches, and the quality and clarity of the writing... Those sorts of little touches, page after page after page, set this book apart....Gwynne's Rebel Yell delivers what readers want and deserve — a brave, headlong charge into American history." (Chicago Tribune)

"A worthy book that does much to present the general in a realistic, critical and evenhanded manner.... Gwynne writes with style... he creates vivid word pictures and descriptions that keep the reader engaged. Rebel Yell is a worthy addition to the shelves of those who study and read about the American Civil War." (Washington Independent Review of Books)

"S.C. Gwynne provides a comprehensive portrait of a complex man who triumphed on the battlefield--but remained an enigma... a joy to read." (Civil War Times)

"[Gwynne's contribution] lies in capturing Jackson’s character, personality and historical significance. He interprets Jackson as a discipline- and God-obsessed social bore, yet one of the fiercest fighters and most brilliant minds in American military history... a 'living myth'...Jackson ascended rapidly from nerdy artillery and physics professor at Virginia Military Institute to Lee’s audacious and seemingly invincible lieutenant." (The Raleigh News-Observer)

"September’s most scintillating read may be a 640-page biography of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson... S.C. Gwynne’s riveting retelling of the canny Confederate whose strategies shaped the early years of the Civil War is just that good." (Kirkus, feature)

"A stimulating study of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson... Gwynne reveals him to have been an early master of modern mobile warfare and a clear-eyed interpreter of what modern 'pitiless war was all about'... Readers are likely to agree that, without Jackson, Lee 'would never again be quite so brilliant,' while even in the North Jackson was considered, rather than a rebel, a 'gentleman and... fundamentally an American.'" (Publishers Weekly, STARRED review)

"Spry prose and cogent insight....Showing Jackson’s exploitation of speed and deception, Gwynne’s vivid account of his Civil War run, which ended with his death in the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, is a riveting, cover-to-cover read for history buffs."

  (Booklist, STARRED review)

“It’s hard to imagine an author breaking newground with another Jackson biography. But S.C. Gwynne does just thatin Rebel Yell... Readers will come away from Rebel Yell withan understanding of the man that goes beyond his military exploits. Gwynne’s masterful storytelling makes Rebel Yell anabsorbing choice for general readersand Civil War buffs alike.” (Bookpage)

"VERDICT: This popular history is recommended for all readers interested in the Civil War." (Library Journal)

Rebel Yell breathes contemporary insight and fresh energy into the life of an authentic American legend. In this crackling narrative, S.C. Gwynne gives us the bold tactics, the eccentric thinking, and the wicked genius of one of history's most brilliant—and unconventional—military minds.” (Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West and In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette)

“Powerfully told, richly detailed, but also deeply human in timeless ways, Rebel Yell unmasks Gen. Stonewall Jackson, one of American history's most enduring legends (and yet most private of men). This is history at its best.” (Michael Duffy, co-author of The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity)

“With the reporter's eye for the revealing vignette and the story-teller’s ear for the rhythm of human striving, S. C. Gwynne gives us a beautifully penetrating account of the meteoric rise and tragic death of the most legendary of Civil War soldiers.” (H. W. Brands, author of The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace)

Rebel Yell is the best biography of Stonewall Jackson I have ever read. The scholarship is exemplary, the narrative riveting and richly textured. With a rare combination of unflinching objectivity and genuine compassion, Rebel Yell unraveled for me the enigma of Stonewall Jackson. A magnificent achievement, Rebel Yell represents a milestone in Civil War literature.” (Peter Cozzens, author of Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign)

“The great tragedy of modern historiography is that more historians don’t write like S.C. Gwynne. In this book on Stonewall Jackson’s Civil War career, Gwynne has fashioned a fast-paced narrative of a man complex and enigmatic, awkward and exceptional. Gwynne has taken on a giant figure of quirks and brilliance who demands both restraint and a facile pen, and he delivers in vivid form.” (John Hennessy, author of First Battle of Manassas: An End To Innocence and Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas)

About the Author

S.C. Gwynne is the author of the New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter.

More About the Author

Sam Gwynne is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared extensively in Time, for which he worked as bureau chief, national correspondent and senior editor from 1988 to 2000, and in Texas Monthly, where he was executive editor. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, and California Magazine. His previous book Outlaw Bank (co-authored with Jonathan Beaty) detailed the rise and fall of the corrupt global bank BCCI. He attended Princeton and Johns Hopkins and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Katie and daughter Maisie.

Customer Reviews

Thomas Jonathan Jackson!
C. M Mills
Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in the Civil War and/or its commanders.
A very well written book.
S.Harvey Roach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'll start with my usual disclaimer that I can't speak to the accuracy of the history in this book. In fact, my prior knowledge of Stonewall Jackson, and indeed the whole Civil War, could fairly be described as non-existent. But Gwynne has clearly done a huge amount of research and, assuming the accuracy, the only word that I can find to describe the book is superb. In terms of the quality of the descriptive writing, the structure and skilful use of language, and the depth Gwynne brings to the characters of Jackson and his comrades and friends, the book stands not just as an outstanding biography but as a very fine piece of literary writing.

As Jackson and his force of cadets set out to war, Gwynne tells us of his pre-war life as a rather strange and awkward man, deeply religious, suffering from poor health and perhaps a degree of hypochondria. Having overcome his early lack of education to scrape into West Point, he took full advantage of the opportunities on offer there, dragging himself up from the bottom of the class to graduate in a fairly high position. The first signs of his heroism were seen in the Mexican war when his courageous - some might say reckless - actions against a much greater enemy force were crucial to the success of the assault on Mexico City. But after this war, Jackson had taken a position as professor at the Virginia Military Institute, a job for which he seemed remarkably unsuited. Unable to control his unruly classes and an uninspiring teacher, he was seen as something of an oddity by his pupils. Gwynne shows how that all changed as he became one of the Confederacy's finest leaders, with many of these same pupils ending up willing to follow him anywhere and die for him if necessary.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By BookVodney on September 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Gwynne has provided us a new perspective of a legendary and very eccentric American General in a very readable and interesting format. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson aka Stonewall Jackson a West Point Grad, decorated leader of the Mexican War, instructor at VMI, deeply religious with health trouble, and finally a military genius who prolonged an un winnable war against the Union States has been a subject of many books dating back to John Esten Cooke's (a former CSA Veteran) book "The Life of Stonewall Jackson".

Thomas J. Jackson started from a very humble childhood as a son of a broken family. His big break in life came when a distant relative obtained an appointment to West Point for the young Jackson. This was the beginning of a legendary career that had its interruptions between the Mexican and Civil War's (it's interesting that Jackson like US Grant departed the Army between war's due to disappointment). I feel Gwynne has defined this very complicated historical figure very accurately. Jackson being a deeply religious and modest man would transform into a Devil of a Warrior on the Battlefield by arresting his officers for petty reasons, marching his men till they dropped, and relentlessly attacking day and night. He was a bull dog and shocked the leading Northern Generals at the time.

The low key Jackson a military school teacher started with less than 20,000 rebel recruits and ending up a leading General by consistently defeating Northern Forces in the Shenandoah Valley ( Bull Run, Antietam, & Harper's Ferry to name a few). His short time of approximately two years in service stopped Union forces adding years to the War between the States. His battle wounds and ultimate demise was a result of his aggressive nature of consent attack on the enemy.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By vegas92 on September 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
First off, let me say that I absolutely love anything and everything to do with The Civil War (even going so far as to marrying a man who grew up outside Gettysburg). That said, I was excited to read this book, and I must say that I was not disappointed.

This is truly an exceptional book about an exceptional human being. Mr. Gwynne does an excellent job of detailing not only the life of General Jackson, but also the lives of the people around him; the events that shaped his life; and the events of this sad, but necessary, war.

I did not know the sad circumstances surrounding General Jackson's early life: his father passing when he was but a child, his mother's remarriage and subsequent death, and his being "farmed out" to relatives. He was at least lucky enough to be welcomed into a family that truly loved him. He had an early marriage to Ellen, which ended abruptly when she died after giving birth to a stillborn son; but he was fortunate enough to find love again and from all appearances and letters which have survived to this day, they truly loved one another, eventually having a daughter, Julia - of which the general was indeed fond.

He was a professor of physics at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), from which he left to continue his military career; and extremely religious, which he carried with him in his day-to-day life: when his first wife Ellen passed away, he was comforted in the knowledge that she was with God, but it did not, in turn, keep him from deep grief. Yet he never let his beliefs keep him from what he thought was his military duty: he was a stern officer and rigorous commander, unpredictable; yet at the same time, he could be extremely caring toward his men.
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