From Publishers Weekly
Leading Alabama's 15th regiment in the final charge up Little Round Top on July 2, 1863, was the supreme moment for Confederate colonel Oates, though he retreated after meeting bloody resistance. LaFantasie (Twilight at Little Round Top
) does not claim his subject is undeservedly neglected, but he finds enough other highlights to justify this biography of the hot-tempered, brave, sexist and implacably racist 19th-century Southern white male. Born poor, Oates managed to educate himself well enough to pass the bar. After secession, he recruited a company and went to war, fighting with great courage and perhaps too little judgment, returning home in 1864 when he lost an arm. Despite Alabama's struggling postwar economy, Oates's legal practice made him wealthy with suspicious rapidity. An ambitious politician, he spent seven terms in Congress, served as governor during the 1890s and as a general in the Spanish-American War. LaFantasie spends too much time reminding readers that abusing blacks, oppressing women and exploiting the poor were acceptable in Oates's circle, and he is positively clairvoyant in his ability to read Oates's thoughts and describe his emotional reactions. Though most readers will agree Oates deserves his obscurity, his life still makes for an engaging biography. (July)
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This excellent, scholarly biography deals with a man best known as Joshua Chamberlin's principal opponent on Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Like his famous opponent, the 15th Alabama Regiment's commander, William C. Oates, knew the art of the infantry officer. Born when much of his native Alabama was still frontier, he survived six wounds, including the loss of his right arm, at other times during the war. After the war, he was a distinguished and eventually wealthy lawyer and state politician as well as a thoroughly unreconstructed rebel with a notoriously hot temper. Yet he made a scandal at the end of his career when, at a state constitutional convention, he advocated no racial limitations on voting rights. LaFantasie's thorough scholarship and ability to marshal facts in readable prose means that the book will especially reward students of the Confederacy's "middle management"--the local entrepreneurs who became field-grade officers. A valuable addition to the Civil War shelves. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved