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Lees Lieutenants (3 Volumes In One Abridged) : A Study in Command Hardcover – Abridged, July 6, 1998
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When Douglas Southall Freeman's original three-volume version of Lee's Lieutenants appeared in the 1940s, it marked a high point in Civil War history, and the books were lauded not only for their scholarship but for their elegant writing. This monument of Civil War literature has been skillfully abridged by one of the most noted present-day Civil War historians, Stephen W. Sears. The new one-volume abridgement retains the core material of the original and makes Freeman's fine writing available in a much more accessible format.
About the Author
Douglas Southall Freeman was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1886, the son of a Confederate soldier. After receiving a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University at the age of twenty-two, he embarked on a newspaper career. He was named the editor of the Richmond News Leader at the age of twenty-nine, a post he would hold for thirty-four years. In 1915, Freeman was commissioned to write a one-volume biography of Robert E. Lee; twenty years later, his four-volume R. E. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. The three volumes of Lee's Lieutenants took him a relatively modest eight years to complete. He won another Pulitzer Prize for his six-volume biography of George Washington, which he finished only hours before his death in 1953.
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Serious Civil War students, amateur Civil War aficionados and casual readers alike will find this to be a splendid work. The list of its' positive aspects is too long to enumerate here but of the many good things to be said of it for all classes of readers, there are a few that really stand out.
The personalities of the Confederate leaders are shown to be "works in progress". That is a big improvement over so many writings that present the leaders as the same man at the end of the war as at the beginning.
The struggles with changing leadership clear to the company levels and the negative impact of constant change in leadership at all levels give the reader a much more accurate sense of why things often went wrong - or right - in the field operations.
The view of the Administrative side of the Confederate war efforts frees the reader from the tunnel-vision that so often misguides debates and assessments of leaders, battles and operations. Seeing the conditions and circumstances the leaders had to work within enables the reader to keep criticism or praise in a much truer and fairer perspective.
The "sketches" of the leaders' personalities actually give the reader a more accurate measure than all the pseudo-in-depth analyses (and taint) usually found in the biographies written by the "armchair analysts" and politically correct types.
It illustrates through the successes and failures of the leaders the astounding logistical complexity of warfare in that era.
In all, it is a fascinating look at an incredible group of men - every one of them as human as you and I - involved in one of the most incredible series of events imaginable
Freeman covers the army's life from the Seven Days' Campaign in early 1862 to the bitter end at Appamattox in April 1865. He mentions just enough detail of the battles for the reader to comprehend the importance and result of each engagement. The deeper focus is on the main officers in Lee's army and their relationship with Lee and each other.
The narrative is free flowing and is easy to read without being simplistic. Indeed, while the book is just over 800 pages, I found myself reading several pages on many occasions.
If you are looking for a book about the Confederate side of the Civil War's Eastern Theater, then this is your read! The only gripe I had was the few maps - there could have been more and could have been more detailed. However, there are plenty of books out there on specific engagements that can make up for the difference.
Read and enjoy. Highly recommended!
If there was a fan club for Dr. Freeman's books, I would want to be a member. He is truly one of the greatest historians ever!