96 of 113 people found the following review helpful
General Robert Edward Lee who led the Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War is well served in this superb biography,
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This review is from: Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee (Hardcover)
Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870) was one of the great military captains of all times. Lee was a man of honor whose eventful life is well served by Michael Korda in this excellent new biography. Korda is the author of such biographies as those dealing with U.S.
Grant'; T.E. Lawrence of Arabia and Dwight D. Eisenhower Michael Korda is not a trained Civil War historian so he adds a fresh look at Lee from the perspective of an author who has done his research to produce the best Lee biography in years.
Robert E. Lee was the son of Light Horse Harry Lee the American Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia and scion of old Virginia. Light Horse Harry was also a man burdened by scandal who became bankrupt dying in disgrace. R. E. Lee cared for his invalid mother. Lee graduated from West Point in 1829 graduating second in his class. He wed a wealthy woman and was enabled to live at Arlington. Lee was in awe of George Washington his beau ideal of a soldier and leader. Lee and Mary had seven children. Three of them were boys'; all served in the Confederate Army.
Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862. In short order Lee led his outnumbered troops in battle winning victory at the Seven Days near Richmond'; Second Manassas, Antietam (a draw against the Army of the Potomac under the sluggish leadership of George B. McClellan) Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville (it was at this battle that Lee lost Stonewall Jackson who died on May 10, 1863 after he had been wounded by his own men). Lee and his troops met defeat at Gettysburg but continued to fight to the bitter end against Grant in the Overland Campaign which ended with surrender on April 9, 1865.
All of these facts are well know to historians. What makes Korda's book stand out for this reviewer who is a longtime Civil War buff are the following points:"
1. While Korda has a deep admiration for Lee as a man and soldier he does not make him into a god. Lee owned slaves and believed that African-Americans were inferior to whites. He was a man of his day in these beliefs.
2. Lee was not forceful enough to his subordinates not wanting to hurt their feelings.
3.Lee';s admirable role as father to his children and as loving spouse to his invalid wife is well covered in this book. These pages give Lee a human dimension sometimes absent in accounts of the great Virginian.
4. Lee did not like slavery and thought the Confederacy was doomed. He could not abandon Virginia by fighting against her so became a Confederate general.
5. Lee was an outstanding professional engineer who did much good work on dams and river navigation especially in the St. Louis area prior to the Civil War.
6. Lee loved animals and treated them well.
7. Lee loved to laugh and carry on mild but platonic flirtations with his many lady friends.
8. Korda disagrees with Lost Cause historians who portray General James Longstreet as the Judas to Lee's Christ.
If you want to read one book dealing with Lee or the Civil War this year then this book is ideal! It is an outstanding biography which lacks a dull page. Excellent . Robert E. Lee was a great American and Michael Korda is a great historian. Excellent!
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Showing 1-10 of 54 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 20, 2014 3:51:30 PM PDT
Peter Hyatt says:
Thank you for a well written review. It sold me.
Posted on May 21, 2014 7:19:57 AM PDT
David H. (Austin) says:
Thanks for the review. I was afraid the book, from its description, would be a hagiography.
Posted on May 29, 2014 1:14:58 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 29, 2014 9:22:16 PM PDT]
Posted on Jun 2, 2014 3:22:21 PM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2014 1:10:07 PM PDT
David H. (Austin) says:
Gee, Ms. S., don't hold back. Say what you really feel! If your remarks were aimed at my use of the term 'hagiography' I have to ask: did I SAY that Lee deserved one? Before you go all Madame Defarge on Lee, or anyone who honors the man, perhaps you should read M. Korda's book or write your own 'unhagiography' and settle Lee's hash for all time. Just saying......
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2014 1:05:13 PM PDT
Austin Jones says:
if you think Lee was a traitor then you have not read the Declaration of Independence. The states had the right to secede whether Lee agreed with it or not. He was against secession. Once Virginia seceded; he had to go with them.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2014 1:06:31 PM PDT
Jacques Lemieux says:
The Declaration of Independence allowed for secession? Interesting since the United States did not exist in 1776.
Posted on Jun 7, 2014 1:12:25 PM PDT
Jacques Lemieux says:
I agree there is much to enjoy and learn from this book, but I was put off by the large number of editing mistakes--misspellings, typos, words left out or doubled. I found the maps to be very distracting also. They are small for the most part and copies of the maps of the time. This makes them very hard to read and understand and useless for the most part. The saddest error I found was at the very end of the book where Lee's death is said to happen on October 10, but the newspaper article quoted is dated October 12 and reads that General Lee died this day. Disappointing little mistakes which should not happen in a book by a reputable author and publisher.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2014 10:05:51 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 22, 2014 10:06:42 AM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2014 2:48:25 PM PDT
rick peuser says: