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Lees Lieutenants (3 Volumes In One Abridged) : A Study in Command Hardcover – Abridged, July 6, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; abridged edition edition (July 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684833093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684833095
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,382,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Darren Burton on December 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I developed a strong interest in the Civil War four years ago after reading a biography on President Lincoln that touched on how frustrated he was with trying to find competent officers to lead the Army of the Potomac. When I drove to Knoxville, Tennessee I took the audio books Gods and Generals, and The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara with me. The descriptions of the battle ground and unfolding battle were so vivid that I could see it clearly in my mind. By the time, I was finished with both audio books I was hooked.

Since I completed both audio books by the time I drove from Utah to Tennessee, I picked up a copy of Grant Moves South (which is the story of the Union's western campaign) by Bruce Catton at Chattanooga,Tennessee when I went and saw the Chickamaga battlefield. After seeing the war from the western point of view on the Union side I wanted to see the war from the Southern point of view on the eastern campaign - that led me to this book.

This book is an abridgement of the original three-volume version (the footnotes have been taken out). It is an incredibly well written book. It is a history of the army of Northern Virginia from the first shot fired to the surrender at Appomattox - but what makes this book unique is that it is a biography of around 150 Confederate officers. The book discusses in depth all the tradeoffs that were being made politically and militarily by the South. The book does an excellent job describing the battles, then at a critical decision point in the battle, the book focuses on an officer - the book stops and tells the biography of that person, and then goes back to the battle and tells what information the officer had at that point and the decision he made. At the end of the battle, the officers decisions are critiqued based on what he could have known and what he should have known given his experience, and that is compared with 20/20 hindsight.

An excellent read.
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Format: Paperback
Bah, humbug. Having read the original 3-volume works (my parents gave it to me for Christmas of 1954), and re-read it from time to time, I found this abridgement unsatisfying and almost a mockery of the original. I recommend that any person seriously interested in the Army of Northern Virginia spend the additional money for the original.

I supposed the current work would be satisfactory for a newcomer to the Civil War and might even give this work five stars. Freeman was the undisputed giant with respect to Southern History, also writing the 4-volume set "R. E. Lee, A Biography," and editing the 52-volume set of the "Southern Historical Society Papers," which is usually purchased as an adjunct to the 130-volume "War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies." All of these are still available (for up to $2,500.00), and they are indispensible for the committed Civil War Historian.

Freeman's prose is as lively and readable today as it was when he wrote in the 1930s and 40s. In fact, I would give five stars to all his works including "George Washington" and "The South to Posterity." I am not sorry I purchased the LL abridgement, as it is of course a good read, but not the reference the original was.

So buy this abridgement, but then move up to the original or buy the original in the first place.

Freeman develops all of the subordinate commanders of the Army of Northern Virginia, with a particular emphasis on Stonewall Jackson. Personnel from Major Pelham on up are treated with sympathy and respect even when their battlefield performance was not up to par. It is as if Freeman was emulating his hero, Robert E. Lee, who spoke kindly whenever possible about his people.
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Format: Hardcover
Douglas Southall Freeman (1886-1953) was a southerner, a Lynchburg-born Virginian; a newspaper man, editor of the Richmond News Leader from 1915 to 1949 and, most of all, a historian of such stature that it is no exaggeration to call him a giant.

His reputation is based primarily upon three great pillars: "Robert E. Lee," four volumes, published 1934-35, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1935; "Lee's Lieutenants," three volumes, published 1942-44; "George Washington," seven volumes, published 1949-57 (the final volume completed posthumously by his assistants), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1958.

These fourteen thick books are not only good in themselves, they have virtually set the playing field for all subsequent histories. To a historian, Freeman is simply there, and he cannot be avoided by anyone studying Lee or his army, or George Washington or his. This is not to say that Freeman is either an ultimate authority or that he is infallible. Progress has been made and new information has been discovered since Freeman's time. (For example, modern metal detectors have established that a few battles and firefights actually took place in locations where no surviving written records had put them.)

Nevertheless, any historian putting notions to paper in contradiction to those of Freeman must do it consciously and only when fully prepared to defend his departure from Freeman's well-known line.

In his forward to "Lee's Lieutenants," Freeman wrote that after completing his biography of Robert E. Lee in 1934, he began to collect material for a biography of George Washington, but he "found that mentally it was not easy to leave the struggle about which one had been writing for twenty years and more.
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