- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Savas Beatie; 1st Edition edition (July 19, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611211409
- ISBN-13: 978-1611211405
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,525,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General Hardcover – August 2, 2013
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“John Bell Hood was one of few Confederate generals who held important commands in both Virginia and the Confederate West. Given command of the defense of Atlanta, Hood fought to hold the city but failed. He later led the army in the unsuccessful Tennessee Campaign, where he was unable to cut off Schofield’s Union army at Spring Hill, was bloodily repulsed the next day at Franklin, and routed two weeks later at Nashville. Historians and writers since then have denied Hood his day in court, thus shaping a very negative opinion of the general. But Sam Hood’s scholarship in John Bell Hood has shown that contemporary views of Hood were often much different from the perpetuated stereotypes. His study demonstrates anew the complexity of history and the importance of impartiality by those who write it.” - (Brandon H. Beck, Professor Emeritus, McCormick Civil War Institute, Shenandoah University)
“The time is right for Sam Hood’s book. Another way of looking at it is, my, what we have learned since the Civil War’s Centennial fifty years ago.” - (Stephen Davis, Civil War author)
"The Civil War historical community can only benefit from Sam Hood's Dedication and perseverance in presenting a full…review and strong defense of JBH's life and service. Readers will certainly understand the general better..." (Journal of America's Military Past)
About the Author
Stephen M. “Sam” Hood is a graduate of Kentucky Military Institute, Marshall University (BBA, 1976), and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. A collateral descendent of General Hood, Sam is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Blue Gray Education Society, a past president of the Board of Directors of Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans, and the author of The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood (2015).
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More recently, I picked up the book and read the book cover-to-cover as I will be attending a conference in a few weeks in which Sam Hood will speak and I thought it only fair to read his book in advance to appreciate the depth of his views. I am glad I did.
This book is not a biography of JBH but instead a series of chapters addressing negative views of General Hood from Lost Cause advocates soon after the Civil War up to those expressed by scholars in more recent years. Sam Hood's method is extremely simple but quite effective. He looks at the primary sources cited by critics in support of their views and finds them either entirely unsupportive of the views expressed or weak at best. He then proceeds to take to task (usually appropriately) modern day scholars who simply cite the older sources without any analysis. I often found his views quite convincing.
Among the many accusations against JBH over the years that Sam Hood effectively challenges or even conclusively refutes are that JBH was using laudanum as result of grievous injuries he suffered, that JBH was alone responsible for failure to bag a significant portion of the Union Army at Spring Hill, and that he sent his troops, including the brave Patrick Cleburne, into the doomed attack at Franklin in order to cure them of their perceived (perhaps well deserved at this stage of the war) reluctance to attack entrenched positions or to punish them for their inaction at Spring Hill.
Sam Hood is certainly correct in noting that his ancestor was presented with quite limited options in defending Atlanta after assuming command from Joseph Johnston (I still believe JBH's attempts to undermine Johnston were less than honorable) and in pursuing Thomas in Tennessee. Still, how many Confederate families would have preferred to welcome home their men at the end of the Civil War with a less aggressive approach?
Sam Hood is less convincing on some other points. He breezes through the objections of JBH's generals in attacking the Federals across a two mile open plain at Franklin, especially without adequate Confederate artillery support. The results were sadly predictable. Although Sam Hood acknowledges that his ancestor is "accountable" for the result, he never explains what that term means. While he claims that Hood's reputation as being overly aggressive was the product of post-Civil War revisionism, he also cites a letter from Sherman in late July 1864 asserting that JBH was "reckless with the lives of his men," surely a contemporaneous Civil War account. Instead of addressing the basis for Sherman's belief, Sam Hood instead simply attacks Sherman in essence for the pot calling the kettle black. His attempt to justify his ancestor's low class standing at West Point by comparing his standing against the total number of applicants for the class undermines his credibility to some extent.
Although JBH had many commendable attributes, I am still left with the impression that the Peter Principle came into effect when he was promoted to Army Commander. Still, I must admit he has been unfairly treated and even maligned over the years by writers who have not done careful work.
Despite my misgivings, criticism, and his admitted bias, Sam Hood has contributed an extremely important and perceptive addition to Civil War literature on John Bell Hood for which he and his publisher (Savas, Beatie) should be thanked. Anyone who wishes to learn more about John Bell Hood should read this book. Any future biographer of John Bell Hood who ignores this book does so at his/her peril.