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The Great American - R E Lee,
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This review is from: Robert E. Lee on Leadership: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision (Hardcover)
Not at all a Marble Man, Robert E. Lee was a true leader. This book does him justice and puts his leadership skills and abilities into a modern context useful for anyone in a leadership role. It's much more a character study than a business book. The author clearly is a great fan of the great man.
Business lessons are nicely extrapolated from both true historical events and how Lee handled adversaries in blue, adversaries on his staff, and adverse events in the field. Lee's brilliance at taking risks and making the most out of less is strongly shown-- especially in The Seven Days Battles and during Chancellorsville-- his finest hour.
The author is particularly harsh on General Longstreet at Gettysburg, suggesting most strongly that Longstreet was insubordinate, disobedient to orders, and undermined Lee's strategies during that cataclysmic struggle. This is a very readable and approachable introduction to Lee for the modern reader and a pleasant review for students of the Civil War who don't mind Lee's lessons put into a more modern frame.
While Lee is the great spirit of the "Lost Cause", his greatness or lack of it is not due to his victories or defeats, but rather on the very elegant and superb quality of his character. War often brings lesser men to the forefront of history and thrusts gargantuan tasks and responsibilities upon them. But it also gives superb men their moments-- often at great cost to themselves and others. Without Lee, one could make the argument that the Confederate cause would have failed long before it actually did.
The idea that "the man and the hour have met", popular during the inauguration of Jefferson Davis, is far more appropriate for Lee and his elevation to command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee is certainly one of the great Americans with a character and demeanor from which we can still learn valuable lessons today. Ever the gentleman and man of kindness and forgiveness, Lee would turn a silent gaze on the failure of Stuart at Gettysburg and even forgive Longstreet. One might say that these were mistakes on Lee's part, but he had to work with what he had available to him and there were few commanders in Lee's opinion who could replace either man. Even those few independent thinkers such as Stonewall Jackson-- who could be trusted with independent action and great responsibility while fulfilling the wishes of the commander-- could fail as did Stonewall during the Seven Days fighting around Richmond. But Lee would give them other chances and they would do their utmost to regain the trust and respect of their Marse Robert. This is an excellent book and quite a treat, too!
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Initial post: Apr 25, 2008 5:43:09 PM PDT
James E. Egolf says:
I agree your comment re Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
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