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Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography Hardcover – May 11, 1993
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Nathan Bedford Forrest was the only soldier to rise from the rank of private to general during the U.S. Civil War. At once "a soft-spoken gentleman of marked placidity and an overbearing bully of homicidal wrath," Forrest is best remembered for the combination of brilliant military leadership and flamboyant bravery that drove his Confederate cavalry troops from victory to victory on the battlefield. His subordinates feared him (he shot those who turned tail), as did his enemies (he rarely lost a fight). General Sherman once said that Forrest must be "hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the [national] treasury." Detractors point out that Forrest never has been exonerated from the Fort Pillow massacre, in which many Union soldiers, most of them black, were slaughtered after attempting to surrender. Following the war, he went on to found the Ku Klux Klan. Late in life, however, Forrest disavowed racial hatred and called for black political advancement. Author Jack Hurst has written the essential biography of a complex and compelling man who was arguably the Civil War's most remarkable soldier. (Movie trivia: Forrest Gump's mother named her son after this general.) --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Library Journal
Hurst presents a balanced, well-documented study of Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom many consider to be the most brilliant general of the Civil War. Hurst, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune , explores Forrest's entire career more thoroughly than other writers, devoting the first part of the book to Forrest's prewar occupation as a slave trader and the last to Forrest's involvements with the Ku Klux Klan and state politics as well as his attempts to regain the fortune he lost during the war. The author presents a detailed study of Forrest's wartime campaigns, from his brilliant exploits in battle to his controversies with his commanding officers and the debacle at Fort Pillow. With his guerrilla tactics Forrest revolutionized the way armies fought, but he was never fully accepted by his fellow generals because of his lack of military education. Overall, this is an outstanding study of one of the Civil War's more controversial generals. Essential.
- W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ., Ruston
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Too, along with the accidental killing of Stonewall Jackson, this book will prompt one's Lost Cause leanings. Why wasn't Forrest sent behind Sherman's March to interrupt his supply line, before Atlanta fell? The counter historicals are numerous.
Hurst, the author, addresses well with conflicting testimony from various "sources" the 3 most controversial aspects of the biography, demonstrating perhaps an important lesson for historians. One can be objective, without being neutral. Those 3 are: The Fort Pillow "Massacre", Forrest the slave trader, and Forrest "Grand Wizard" of the KKK. The results will enlighten, if not surprise, the reader.
The author's notes are copious. His research mind boggling. And his finished product professionally essential to understanding this unique historical figure. Both of the generals who faced each other in Atlanta, the redoubtable Sherman and Johnston, thought Forrest was the most significant figure of the war. Sherman dreaded his spectre at his rear.
To those nonplussed by the paucity of maps and illustrations, I would say never attempt a book such as this without one's iPad handy. To be Wiki-less in this slog, is to be bewildered. The mere mention of so many new names of people and places is reason enough, even if the battle maps were included.
So, buy the book. It is a pleasurable slog, well worth the invested time.
Therefore, I was surprised that this book told his story in a way that made me feel he has been explained unjustly by most history books. OK, let's say everything about Pillow is true or near true. Yes, there is no making that better, if he did it, he is a monster. Not talking about that at the moment.
This book caused me to learn something new; NB's whole story is not generally expressed and it if far more complex and interesting than I would have thought from the caricature I have usually seen in both the South and North.
Seems he did try pretty hard to give the appearance of personal growth by the 1870's and he was denied this change of outlook by both the South and North. Even if NB was faking it to appear 'reformed' for personal business motives, he made enough public statements that you have to give him some credit for being (perhaps accidentally) a somewhat positive influence after 1870.
Not saying it was so compelling that I 'admire' him, you understand, but I am more able to comprehend his unique place in our history.
The point is that, this book made me believe it was POSSIBLE that he genuinely regretted some of his actions and tried to become reformed. That part of NB's story isn't talked about enough. It is a nice thing to consider.
Forrest's participation in the KKK is well researched, his attempts to disband that organisation are also examined.
No saint, but no devil either.
An excellent study of a complex character, multi faceted, not simple and certainly remarkable.
This book details the life of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Like most history, as time goes on we learn new things. I always enjoyed the tactics of NBF but to know "who he was" is depicted by Jack Hurst. Hurst does an amazing job detailing everything found (at least known) about the General and the person. Hurst is able to put together the pieces without bias and tell a story of a man who most of history maybe got wrong, or at least parts.
I am an amatuer Civil War buff and reading this book not only educated me on NBF but also explained reasons why and how certain things occured.
A must-read for and Civil War OR history fan!
If you enjoy unbiased history you will enjoy this book.