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Bedford Forrest: and His Critter Company Paperback – November 19, 1993
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For those whose taste is for rugged heroes, for tales that reveal the length to which human endurance can go, this book is to be highly recommended. -- New York Herald Tribune, 1931
From the Back Cover
"Andrew Lytle's biography of Forrest, away back in the early Thirties, was the first I read, and it has retained its place in my affections ever since."--Shelby Foote
Top customer reviews
In reading this book we not only learn about the marvellous -- indeed, often incredible -- feats of a military genius, but we learn at the same time about the people, the places, the morals, the values, and the way of life of a people long gone now. (Lytle's subsequent book, A Wake for the Living, deals more pointedly with how much of the good of those days we have lost.)
This book, although a worthy history, reads like a novel. It truly is one that is hard to put down once you get started.
The book really gathers steam though when the author decides to concentrate on Forrest and his depictions of the various campaigns and battles are stirringly told. Some of the campaigns will be difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the geography to follow though as almost no maps appear anywhere in the book. But, the battles are the thing here and no other figure of the Civil War comes close to Bedford Forrest in raising and arming his own troops, often behind enemy lines, overcoming long odds against a wide variety of foes in highly original fashion, while constantly exposing himself to every conceivable danger from the very beginning of the war to its very end. Frequently wounded in personal combat and once by one of his own officers, with numerous horses shot out from under him, often more than one of the same day, the main wonder of his story is that he actually survived the war. It's also clear that he received a lot more respect and recognition from his foes than he did his own commanders.
It should be noted though that this book is more than simply non- PC. It was written more that 70 years ago, by a man who was very much a product of his time and place. The N word repeatedly appears throughout, but it's not simply that. He likes to add comic and unnecessary asides from time to time to provide a little "color" to his prose. It's clear he bears no respect whatever for the black Union troops who served in the war, and can never bring himself to actually refer to them as soldiers. Usually, when they are referenced, it's along the lines of some battle had 3,000 Union forces and 500 negroes, as if they were some sort of mob. The final chapter of the book deals largely with Forrest's role as the first Imperial Wizard of the KKK, an organization the author openly regards as heroic and praiseworthy in its efforts. The interesting thing for me was to read the forward, published by the author himself some 50 years later without apology or even acknowledgement of these things. It's clear enough that as brave and heroic and relentless as Forrest was during the war, he remains a figure of considerable controversy to this day even within his home state of Mississippi, given the very recent flap over the proposed state license tag bearing his name and image.