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The White Tecumseh: A Biography of General William T. Sherman 1st Edition

20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 072-3812175789
ISBN-10: 0471175781
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Editorial Reviews Review

William T. Sherman was Ulysses S. Grant's staunchest ally in the Union Army; in 1862 he even dissuaded his friend from resigning. This opinionated work on the leader of the merciless March to the Sea takes issue with many previous biographies. According to Stanley Hirshon, Sherman was not a racist (at least, not by 19th-century standards), not a philanderer (though he liked to flirt), and not a bad general (though he lost a lot of battles). The author makes a persuasive case for these contentions in his strongly argued text.

From Library Journal

Utilizing regimental histories, historian Hirshon offers a sympathetic yet excellent biography of one of the more noted Civil War generals, best remembered for burning Atlanta, cutting a swath of destruction across Georgia, then creating total destruction in South Carolina, including the burning of Columbia. Hirshon gives us an insight into how Sherman's own troops felt about him and his relationships with fellow generals, especially Grant. The author not only describes Sherman's role in the war but also details his early life and family problems. The latter part of the book deals with his life after the war, especially with the Indians in the West as well as his relationships with Presidents Johnson and Grant. This work focuses more closely on Sherman's battles and marches than most other biographies do and discusses his failures and accomplishments in detail. Highly recommended.?W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ., (ret.) Ruston
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471175781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471175780
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,756,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
The book presents a few maps poorly drawn without relief, detail, contrast or clarity; primitive and in every aspect uninformative. It makes this reader sick to follow the detailed accounts of 3 armies maneuvering against 2 opposing forces in a complex geography; where each commander is trying to maximize every geographical advantage, and be referred to the included maps that actually detract from the clarity of the story. Every military historian knows that in a conflict between two forces the geography is always the third combatant. Nowhere more so than in the last half of the US Civil War where the minority forces were in a protracted defensive struggle. Shermans only equal, Joe E. Johnston, was a master of defensive topography; all the more reason to bless Sherman's biography with maps worthy of both characters and the conflict. Hirshson, if he understood this, let his editor proffer maps that are "cute" rather than useful. In reading this book you should take along your copy of the "West Point Atlas of American Wars Vol.1.", or refer back to Mr. Foote's boatanchor for topographic resolution. Burke Davis's book "Sherman's March" covering only a portion of Hrishson'seffort is a better product.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Stanley P. Hirshon has obviously done his homework on this biography of General Sherman. From his childhood to early military career, the civil war, on to his distaste for the political life. It's obvious he could have easily ran for President and probably would have won but instead remained a general in the army dispite political infighting in Washington where he was often a pawn to greater forces. A very enjoyable book that should be read by anybody who has an interest in that part of American history. I can only imagine this biography being topped by Stephen Ambrose but then I'm partial to his style of writing.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By hrladyship on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a biography of William Tecumseh Sherman by Stanley P. Hirshson, Professor at Queens College, City University of New York. On the surface, it seems to be an un-biased story of the life of a very complicated man.
Like so many Civil War generals on the Union side, Sherman was almost a failure in civilian life. He tried his hand at many professions, but never really made enough money to support his growing family. In the army, however, he had moments of brilliance. And brutality, evidenced most clearly in his march to the sea. He could send his men into a town with orders to destroy it, then wander through the same town afterward looking for friends who lived there when he knew them. He admitted that many of the soldiers he commanded during that time were not much more than thieves and ruffians.
The book starts slowly and ends the same. Most of Sherman's story is the Civil War, four years of privation, desperation, and triumph. Maligned by his enemies, again as were most successful generals, his fights after the war were political, although he never sought political office. Rather his ambitions were for himself as the highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army, and for the Army itself.
Although this is a scholarly work, it is an easy read, especially for a Civil War buff. There are moments when the reader will feel she is attaining some insight into his personality. But those moments slip away quite often. Because of this, the reader might wonder if something is being held back. For instance, I would like to have seen more details of the post-Civil War Army policies toward the Native Americans, something Sherman had much to do with.
This is a must read for the Civil War scholar, American military history fan, and those interested in 19th century America. Sherman lived in much of the U.S. and details of these places in his time add to our understanding of life when our great-grandparents were young.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Austin W. Spencer on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Overall, this biography of Sherman is closely researched, competent, and as revealing of the private Sherman as of the famous general. A few details, however, bog it down.
Readers who skip the preface may miss an argument that Hirshson considers vitally important: "His [Sherman's] troubles, I suspect, came not from the loss of his father but from the realization that mental instability plagued his mother's family." (ix) But Hirshson does not SHOW Sherman realizing it. Hirshson only refers to it in connection with occasions of death or severe emotional strain, when other doubts could have been at work. The evidence and, hence, the argument are not robust enough to sustain an entire book. It seems more sensible to reconnect heredity with environment, to suggest that the death of his father, separation of his family, and experiences as soldier and civilian were as formative as his family history.
At times, too, transitions are brusque or nonexistent -- jumping without warning from military to civilian affairs, or among several views of the same event. Practically unreadable maps do not help, either. Hirshson mainly succeeds on the strengths of vivid narration and telling (often quite extended) quotation. Despite the flaws in his argument, he manages to produce a sympathetic yet well-rounded portrait.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James S. MacDuff on September 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Hirshson puts forth a complete life picture of General William Tecumseh Sherman (Tecumseh was his birth name in 1820, William added for his baptism as a young child). What strikes me foremost after reading this comprehensive biography, is that William T. was, just like anyone else, an ordinary man that was making his way as best he could.
Losing his father at a young age, he then had to adjust to going away to military school at West Point, in Upstate New York. There, he was the bane of the schoolmasters: never living up to his potential, was the constant troublemaker, and always challenged authority. Ultimately, this affected his overall grade, and it would cost him an appointment in the regular army after graduation.
With the prospect of a future in the army gone, Sherman tried to make his way: banker, lawyer, school teacher....all the while trying to support an ever expanding family with wife Ellen. This was a constant struggle during his whole married life; not having faith in any kind of religion, he constantly sparred with his wife and her Catholicism. He adored his children; the pain of son Willy dying in 1861 pained him the rest of his life. Another son, Charles, died without ever seeing his father. Third son, Tom, became a Jesuit and was forever as good as dead in his father's eyes.
The secession of South Carolina started what was then known as the "War Between the States", and history for the ages was made. Bitter defeat at Shiloh (and a reported, supposed bout of insanity) to the ever famous March to the Sea, the end of the war coming with Johnston's surrender. Hirshson does not get into great depth with Sherman's relationship with Grant, but he does competently relay the affection the two had for each other as friends.
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