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A Mediocre Biography of an American Hero
on March 11, 2001
This biography of General Winfield Scott is lacking from a number of perspectives. First, there is a total lack of military analysis - the author merely states what Scott did but never in much depth and without an assessment of his strategy or tactical abilities. We never learn how Scott evolved from a lawyer into a soldier - what was his military education, how did he evolve as a soldier over a 40 year career. How did he view new technologies like railroads and rifled artillery? Second, Scott appears as a cardboard character here with little or no personal depth. What were his views on subjects such as slavery, tariffs, the Indians? His family relations are virtually ignored - why did his wife spend so much time in Europe? Instead, the author spends far too much time on Scott's political ambitions and his intra-service rivalries and bickering. This is not what he is remembered for and should not be the primary focus for a military biography. Scott was probably one of the best generals the United States has ever produced, particularly in light of the superb Mexico City campaign, and his generalship should be center stage in a biography, not low-level barracks intrigue. Finally, the notion that Scott was the agent of manifest destiny is unsupported; he was a dutiful soldier, not an imperialist. Maps were inadequate to follow Scott's battles.