- Series: R.E. Lee (Book 1)
- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Simon Publications (January 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1931313369
- ISBN-13: 978-1931313360
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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R. E. Lee: A Biography, Vol. 1 Paperback – January 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
The four volumes cover the following:
I. Family history, Light Horse Harry and birth through western Virginia campaign and Atlantic coast at the beginning of the war.
II. Assignment to Richmond, and Peninsula campaign through Chancellorsville.
III. Gettysburg, Overland campaign, Petersburg and loss of the railroads.
IV. Collapse of Petersburg lines, Appomattox, life in Lexington, and death.
Through his proximity in time and space to Lee, Freeman was able to gather a wealth of primary sources, such as letters and journals that were in the private hands of different families, and use them to flesh out the narrative of better known sources. It is unlikely that a more comprehensive account of Lee will ever be accomplished, regardless of what sources pop up or academic trends arise.
Freeman deftly employs the "fog of war" narration technique throughout the battle sequences. In other words, the narrative, instead of being omniscient, is told from Lee's perspective, and details of enemy movements and other developments are revealed to the reader only when Lee himself becomes aware of them.
The most common objection to Freeman's Lee is that it is hagiographic. It may be, but it would be impossible for a biographer to complete a work of this scope unless he actually admired his subject. Freeman is not without criticism of Lee, especially in the area of being too sensitive with the feelings of subordinates, for example, Loring in western Virginia and Longstreet at Second Manassas and Gettysburg.
It is absolutely the best biography of Lee in existence.
Freeman writes in a style that is easily read in spite of it taking four volumes to tell the tale. The detail is extraordinary, his citations sound, and his conclusions insightful.
Freeman is, in many ways, an apologist for Lee, but that does not stop him from being measured and thorough in how he presents his material. He tends not to see the conflicts that Lee's "honor" brought into his actions, preferring to slide over with the apology that Lee was a general not a politician the fact that Lee knew as early as the beginning of 1863 that the South could not win the war.
For those trying to build a collection of definitive books on the Civil War, these four volumes should be part of the core.
The failure at Gettysburg was Lee's:
Time, distance, a lack of partisanship on the part of historians that are not married to either the Myth of the Lost Cause or the Myth of Robert E. Lee show a different picture than what is too often shown. Lee believed he could allow his commanders a level of discretion that worked when those commanders were, as mentioned, Longstreet and Jackson. With Jackson’s firm hand lost in the Pyrrhic victory at Chancellorsville, Lee was forced to reorganize his army. He is cited by Shelby Foote as understanding that he would have to do more, that he would need to be in firmer control. Saying so however does not make it so. He failed to give clear written orders, everything was oral. He failed to make clear to Ewell on day one that taking the heights was critical and instead told him to take the heights “if practicable.” He failed to tell Stuart exactly what was expected of him. He failed to use the cavalry at hand when Stuart failed to keep him informed. He failed to be available on day two to take control of the right flank of his army when that flank failed in its’ objective of turning the Union left.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. If you're a civil war buff this is excellent. I found out more about Lee than I ever knew.Published 7 months ago by Vic S.
D.S. Freeman's unabridged Lee biography is superb. Even Civil War revisionist and post-revisionists are likely to enjoy the style of writing. Read morePublished on December 23, 2013 by tcalger