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Lee Paperback – Abridged, August 1, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Douglas Southall Freeman, the son of a Confederate soldier, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1886. He was commissioned to write a one-volume biography of Lee in 1915, but his research and writings over two decades produced four large volumes. Freeman won another Pulitzer Prize for his six-volume definitive biography of George Washington. He died in 1953.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684829533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684829531
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Such was the talent and ability of Douglas Freeman that a work which is now more than sixty-five years old still remains the best work written on Robert E. Lee. Time has made some of Freeman's work dated. In reading this condensed version of Freeman's four volume masterpiece, one will discover little about the social lives of soliders in the Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate politics, or the role slaves played in the Confederacy. Yet what remains still has real value. Freeman's purpose was to write an engaging biography of Lee which would reveal every known fact and convey it in such a way that would be interesting. Yet the larger work is in many ways inaccessible to a general audience. The four volumes which have been compressed into this one volume lose little of Freeman's original thought. Pruned from Freeman's orgiinal are footnotes, bibliographies, and everything that is superflous. Yet the reader will find the single volume still a remarkable achievement, and that it conveys the heart of the argument. Freeman's main accomplishment is to be able to get inside the head of Robert E. Lee. It is very much a book which seeks to convey Lee's life, to show how he made critical decisions, and what were important qualities which contributed to his character. Freeman has little doubt as to Lee's greatness, who he considers to be a shining example of a model Christian gentleman. While Freeman is not an apologist of the Confederacy, always a committed nationalist, he recognized that Southern defeat was in many ways a blessing. Nevertheless, Freeman as a Virginian sought to honor those who suffered, bled, and died for the Confederate cause by examining the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Douglas Southall Freeman's multivolume "R.E. Lee" may have been published nearly three-quarters of a century ago, but this abridged version remains the best single biography ever written about the legendary Confederate general. Although there have been numerous books written about Lee, none have come as close to capturing Lee's military genius, or why so many Southerners enthusiastically fought and died under his banner, as does Freeman's work. When it was first published "Lee" was a sensation, and in the 1930's only Margaret Mitchell's wildly fictionalized "Gone With the Wind" surpassed it in sales and publicity. Senator Harry Truman read every volume, as did other famous political and military leaders. Freeman's work did much to spread the "Lee Legend" outside the South and made Lee into a national, and not merely regional, icon. Of course, Freeman has since been criticized, and in some ways justly so, for his overwhelming pro-Lee bias. In Freeman's elegant prose Robert Edward Lee is nearly perfect in every respect - he is a modest, deeply religious man who dislikes slavery and secession but reluctantly agrees to side with his native state of Virginia when the Civil War begins. If the rest of Freeman's story sounds familiar it is because this book made it so. Lee, despite facing constant shortages of men and supplies, meets the overwhelming forces of the Northern States and defeats them in battle after battle. Yet after each defeat the Northerners simply recruit new soldiers, resupply their vast armies, and come after Lee's valiant but shrinking forces again and again. In the end not even Lee's tactical genius can save the outnumbered and outgunned Confederates from eventual (and in Freeman's opinion, inevitable) defeat.Read more ›
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By A Customer on January 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have not even yet finished reading "Lee," but I have enjoyed it so much that I would like to give my opinion of it. This is a very well-researched, thoughtfully written biography, by an author who was not only a good historian but also a good writer. Robert E. Lee's whole life is laid before us in very good order, and it is interesting to read about Lee's life during the years other than 1861-1865.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because Freeman does not glorify Lee, although it is evident that he has a high opinion of Lee. However, Freeman does not disappoint his readers by dwelling on Lee's weak points. He actually does point out his faults, but he does it objectively, and fairly, instead of pouncing on Lee and tearing him apart.
This is the perfect biography of Robert E. Lee to buy if you want to know just why Lee is such a great figure in American history. It is fair, thorough, and very well-written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While Freeman definitely admired Lee and could be accused of putting Lee on a pedestal, I cannot dispute his writing style that kept my interest throughout the book.
Freeman's book is comprehensive and covers the most important events in Lee's illustrious life:
1. Early childhood and humiliation of his father's bankruptcy.
2. Brilliant academic standing at West Point.
3. Brilliant service during the Mexican War that won the admiration of Winfield Scott and others.
4. Stressful family life (experienced many separations from his children and invalid wife).
5. Fateful decision to side with Virginia during the Civil War.
6. Early Civil War service (somewhat indistinguished compared to his later service).
7. Brilliant generalship at 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and other battles.
8. Going up against US Grant the last two years of the war.
9. Last years at Washington and Lee College.
All in all, a highly recommended read of an excellent general!
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