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That devil Forrest;: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest Hardcover – 1959

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About the Author

John Allan Wyeth was born in Alabama, and served as a private in the Confederate cavalry until his capture two weeks after Chickamauga. After the war he became a surgeon. He died in 1922.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 614 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Brothers (1959)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007DK5AK
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,863,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on August 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Nathan Bedford Forrest was one interesting character. A self made millionaire, most definitely an entrepreneur by today's standards, he was a maverick in every facet of his life. Shelby Foote called him the only genius, other than Abraham Lincoln, that the Civil War produced: High praise indeed.
It is easy, with the benefit of hindsight, to paint him with the brush of evil and dismiss him. Slave trader, first Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan, the Ft. Pillow massacre, these are not the calling cards of sainthood. But if we try to view life as he saw it, if we can empathize with him enough to where we can react to his environment, during his times and with his skill set, then maybe we can come close to understanding Mr. Foot's comment.
The Southern High Command did not develop senior generals well. They anointed 8 at the start of hostilities. Without exception, those that weren't killed or injured were still in charge of things at the end of the war. Forrest was one of the few who earned the right to fill the ranks of those who fell.
Independent, devoted to the cause and goal driven he pounds his way to the top. One of his key adversaries, William Tecumseh Sherman, gives him his finest accolade with the words 'that Devil Forrest'. He is a tenacious fighter and good at his job. Judge for yourself, but no one on either side fought under greater hardship, with fewer resources, while amassing a string of truly pivotal victories than he did. No Lost Cause apologia here, Forrest is the genuine article, a true Confederate war hero. You may not wind up liking him but you will wind up respecting him.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Weegee on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm torn on this review. I'm a new student to the ACW, but new enough to still know that NBF is one of the more intriquing characters of the war. I thought I did my research well and picked the right book to read about him by choosing "That Devil Forrest."
Well, I'm a little disappointed. Not because the book is bad, but more because it wasn't what I quite expected and mostly because I read it out of place (more later on this). The focus is 95% on the military side, which is not all bad. After all, that's what makes him the wizard of the saddle. But the problem is I found the account very dry at times. Much of it is rehashing Official Records and what others have said in their memoirs. I never got the feeling of being there, in the middle of the battle, with bullets zipping by my ear. The only way I can describe it is a very nuts and bolts reading of what troops went where and what troops did what, with a little bit of prose thrown in. Certain chapters are handled better than others, but from time to time I found myself drifting away from engagement to engagement because there wasn't much to make it unique.
Now, I realize not every one can write like Catton or Foote, but considering Wyeth did ride in Forrest's cavalry, I was hoping for a little more from that POV.
As far as the details of the engagements, they are extremely well done. Clearly you will walk away from this book understanding how many casualties he infliced, what companies and who their leaders were who rode on particular missions, etc. It is truly a micro history and if you are unfamiliar with the bigger battles that may have intiated NBF's specific participation (i.e. Shiloh, Murfressboro, etc.) you might get a little lost in the details.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book, written by a Civil War veteran, gives great insight into one of the most interesting military commanders ever. It should appeal to anyone with an interest in the effects a strong personality can have on history. Forrest's ability to quickly assess a difficult situation and act efficiently and dramatically is astounding. Also of great interest is the extremely difficult circumstances endured by soldiers and civilians alike during this terrible period. While the book is written by a Southerner, the author's perspective is one of a diligent historian and deals frankly with the controversies that surrounded General Forrest. Anyone who reads this book should find their time extremely well spent.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
First published in 1899 as "The Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest", this renamed and updated account is not only full of facts, but the presentation of them is made most readable.
Motivational interest in this subject for me lies in the fact that a Great grandfather was a member of the Kentucky Brigade under service with Gen. Forrest in several of his most famous battles, i.e.- Tishomingo Creek (Brice's Cross Roads). This book was the first I'd read concerning Gen. Forrest's life and career. Since then I've read and studied much concerning Gen. Forrest, even travelling to some of the battlegrounds associated with his military campaigns. I think that Allen Wyeth treated the subject of Gen. Forrest with the respect and dignity due such a great man, without white-washing the controverial portions of his nature and career. He brings Gen. Forrest to life with startling clarity in this original account, full of subject material gleaned from actual eyewitnesses and other people from all walks of life who were acquainted with him. Enough time had gone by when the book was first published to gain an even better perspective on the life & career of this most remarkable soldier and man.
Truly the very nature of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest is emboided in this book by highlighting his well known theory put into practice that: "The time to whip the enemy is when they are running."
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