- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451673299
- ISBN-13: 978-1451673296
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 959 customer reviews
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- #1 in Books > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > Campaigns & Battlefields > Bull Run
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Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Paperback – October 6, 2015
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"In Rebel Yell, Mr. Gwynne's easy, loping style wraps itself effortlessly around the particulars of Stonewall Jackson's life, from his back-of-the-mountain upbringing to the outburst of military genius in the Civil War. The result is a narrative vivid with detail and insight." (Wall Street Journal)
"In the magnificent Rebel Yell, one of the year's best biographies, writer S.C. Gwynne brings Jackson ferociously to life... His battle scenes are marvels of description and kinetic action. [He] brings a deep humanity to his portrayals of Jackson, his fellow Confederate generals and their Union adversaries... Gwynne's pages fly by, brimming with excitement and terror." (Newsday)
“Gwynne stirringly recreates the bloody, error-plagued battles of the early war and argues that Jackson’s legend galvanized the South, outmanned and outgunned, to keep fighting.” (New Yorker)
"An engaging narrative with a pace that never flags... Gwynne accomplishes a great deal in his clear and highly readable book... If you read everything about the Civil War -- or if you have read very little about the Civil War -- Rebel Yell is an excellent addition to your reading list." (Huffington Post)
"I've reviewed many books on the Civil War, and this is far and away the best biography of a Civil War general that I've read... If you're a Civil War buff -- as I am -- or if you're just interested in wonderful biographies -- as I am -- Rebel Yell is a must-read book. It reads like a novel, but it's based on extensive beyond belief research." (Huntington News)
"Gwynne’s portrait of Jackson is comprehensive, stirring, compelling....This well-researched portrait of a well-studied figure of the Civil War defies the odds and measurably adds to the scholarship surrounding Jackson and the conflict that defined him... The book is hard to put down." (The Dallas Morning News)
"Profoundly enlightening...The difference in Rebel Yell is...the historical sweep, the small touches, and the quality and clarity of the writing... Those sorts of little touches, page after page after page, set this book apart....Gwynne's Rebel Yell delivers what readers want and deserve — a brave, headlong charge into American history." (Chicago Tribune)
"A worthy book that does much to present the general in a realistic, critical and evenhanded manner.... Gwynne writes with style... he creates vivid word pictures and descriptions that keep the reader engaged. Rebel Yell is a worthy addition to the shelves of those who study and read about the American Civil War." (Washington Independent Review of Books)
"S.C. Gwynne provides a comprehensive portrait of a complex man who triumphed on the battlefield--but remained an enigma... a joy to read." (Civil War Times)
"[Gwynne's contribution] lies in capturing Jackson’s character, personality and historical significance. He interprets Jackson as a discipline- and God-obsessed social bore, yet one of the fiercest fighters and most brilliant minds in American military history... a 'living myth'...Jackson ascended rapidly from nerdy artillery and physics professor at Virginia Military Institute to Lee’s audacious and seemingly invincible lieutenant." (The Raleigh News-Observer)
About the Author
S.C. Gwynne is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife.
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As Jackson and his force of cadets set out to war, Gwynne tells us of his pre-war life as a rather strange and awkward man, deeply religious, suffering from poor health and perhaps a degree of hypochondria. Having overcome his early lack of education to scrape into West Point, he took full advantage of the opportunities on offer there, dragging himself up from the bottom of the class to graduate in a fairly high position. The first signs of his heroism were seen in the Mexican war when his courageous - some might say reckless - actions against a much greater enemy force were crucial to the success of the assault on Mexico City. But after this war, Jackson had taken a position as professor at the Virginia Military Institute, a job for which he seemed remarkably unsuited. Unable to control his unruly classes and an uninspiring teacher, he was seen as something of an oddity by his pupils. Gwynne shows how that all changed as he became one of the Confederacy's finest leaders, with many of these same pupils ending up willing to follow him anywhere and die for him if necessary.
This is very much a biography of Jackson and a history of his military campaigns, rather than a history of the Civil War itself. Therefore Gwynne doesn't go too deeply into the politics of why the war came about, nor does he make any overt judgements about the rights or wrongs of it. Although in the course of the campaigns, we find out a lot about some of the commanders and politicians on the Unionist side, the book is rooted within the Confederacy and the reader sees the war very much from their side. As we follow Jackson through his campaigns, Gwynne, with the assistance of clear and well-placed maps, brings the terrain to life, vividly contrasting the beauty of the country with the brutality and horrors of the battlefields. He gives such clear detail of the strategies and battle-plans, of troop numbers and movements, of weaponry and equipment, that each battle is brought dramatically to life. In fact, my lack of knowledge was something of an unexpected benefit since I genuinely didn't know the outcome of the battles and so was in a constant state of suspense. And found that I very soon had given myself over completely to willing Jackson onto victory. The image of this heroic man mounted on his favourite horse in the midst of mayhem, the light of battle in his eyes, one hand held high as he prayed for God's help while the bullets and artillery thudded all around him, is not one I shall soon forget.
From the beginnings of the creation of the Jackson legend in the Shenandoah Valley campaign, then on through the series of battles where he snatched victory from what should have been certain defeat, till his final stunning achievements as the right-hand man of General Robert E Lee, Gwynne shows the growing admiration and even love of his troops for this man whose total belief in the rightness of his cause and God's protection led him to take extraordinary risks. He drove his men brutally hard, marching them at unheard-of speeds, on half rations or worse, and he threw them into battle even when they were exhausted and weak and hugely outnumbered. But his personal courage and strategic brilliance turned him into a figurehead - a symbol for the South, whose very name could make the Unionist commanders tremble. Cheered and adulated by soldiers and citizenry everywhere he went, he consistently insisted that all praise for his victories was God's due, not his, and remained awkward in the face of his growing celebrity to the end.
But amidst all the warfare, Gwynne doesn't forget to tell us about the man. We see the other side of Jackson - the family man, grieving for the death of his first young wife and then finding happiness with his second, Anna. Through extracts from his letters, we see the softer, loving side of Jackson and also learn more about his deeply held conviction of God's presence in every aspect of his life. We learn how the war divided him from his much loved sister who took the Unionist side. And we're told of the efforts he made to nurture religion amongst his troops. A silent and somewhat socially awkward man to outward appearance, we see how he opened up to the people closest to him, taking special pleasure in the company of young children. A man of contradictions, truly, who could hurl his men to their almost certain deaths one day and weep for the death of a friend's child the next.
A biography that balances the history and the personal perfectly, what really made this book stand out for me so much is the sheer quality of the writing and storytelling. Gwynne's brilliant use of language and truly elegant grammar bring both clarity and richness to the complexities of the campaigns, while the extensive quotes from contemporaneous sources, particularly Jackson's own men, help to give the reader a real understanding of the trust and loyalty that he inspired. As Gwynne recounted the final scenes of Jackson's death and funereal journey, I freely admit I wept along with the crowds of people who lined the streets in wait for a last chance to see their great hero. And I wondered with them whether the outcome might have been different had Jackson lived. If only all history were written like this...
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Scribner.
During the way he rose to greatness with his brilliant Valley Campaign and outstanding leadership in such horrific battles as
The Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg and his death by friendly fire at Chancellorsville. His flanking attack on the Union 11th Corp at Chancellorsville showed the genius of Jackson and General Robert E. Lee.
My favorite book on Stonewall Jackson is by his foremost biographer the distinguished James I. "Bud" Robertson who is a professor emeritus at Virginia Tech. Gwynne recognizes Robertson for his wonderful book on Jackson admitting that his own book is focused on Jackson in the Civil War. The book does provide rich biographical details about Jackson but is less comprehensive that the Robertson biography. This book is less academic that Robertson';s biography. It is written in an easy to understand journalistic style. The book contains many maps which help simplify and make understandable the tactics used by Stonewall during the war. The long book reads quickly and should be a must purchase for anyone interested in Jackson, the Confederate Army and the American Civil War. Stonewall Jackson was secretive, ambitious, pious and deadly to Yankees. He is the Oliver Cromwell of the South. His devotion to duty and God is commendable in our skeptical age! An excellent effort worthy of your attention!
This book gives an excellent summary of Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. From the moment he left VMI for Richmond to the moment of his death. The stuff that matters most. There is some material from before the Civil War but the book has the title Rebel Yell for a reason.
If you are interested in whether Stonewall's baby shoes were bronzed or not, then this is not the book for you. If you are interested in Stonewall the Civil War battlefield phenomenon, then I highly recommend this book.