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Robert E. Lee (Command) [Paperback]

Ron Field , Adam Hook
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 21, 2010 Command (Book 7)

Robert E. Lee is widely recognized as the greatest commander in U.S. History. But why? In his new book, Ron Field, a member of the DC-based Company of Military Historians, seeks to convey the character, outlook, bearing, leadership style, and military brilliance of the “Old Man.” His narrative builds to Lee's “hour of destiny” during the Civil War where Lee outshined McClellan during the Seven Days, Pope at Second Manassas, Burnside at Fredericksburg, and Hooker at Chancellorsville. Field also explores the tragic side to Lee's legend: the heart attack that in 1963 sidelined him at Gettysburg; the loss of Stonewall Jackson to friendly fire that weakened his Western flank; and difficulties with fellow general Longstreet that contributed to his eventual defeat. Field also provides a balanced assessment of Lee's flaws, including his difficulty in giving clear commands to his subordinates.

Readers of Osprey will find in Robert E. Lee everything they have come to expect from an Osprey series title, including campaign maps, full-color illustrations-this time from Adam Hook, dozens of photographs and a selected bibliography.

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Editorial Reviews


“The book is well balanced, giving due attention to Lee's life before and after the American Civil War, but it is his position as Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia that deservedly receives the main focus. In his analysis of Lee's military operations, the author provides objectivity in interpretation and conclusions and insightful perception into Lee's sterling character and inner mind. The accompanying illustrations, maps and photographs are artfully presented and greatly enhance the reader's enjoyment and understanding of the life and military campaigns of this great commander... The author, illustrator and Osprey Publishing are to be congratulated.” ―Ron Stowers, Jackson Civil War Roundtable

“Offers letters, newspapers, and diaries to build a fine narrative of Lee's achievements. From his legendary career to his tragedies, Robert E. Lee is a fine introduction for any military or general-interest holding.” ―The Midwest Book Review (December 2010)

“A superb book about one of history's finest.” ―Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness

About the Author

Until his retirement in 2007, Ron Field was Head of History at the Cotswold School in Bourton-on-the-Water. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1982 and taught history at Piedmont High School in California from 1982 to 1983. He was associate editor of the Confederate Historical Society of Great Britain, from 1983 to 1992. He is an internationally acknowledged expert on US military history, and was elected a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians, based in Washington, DC, in 2005.

Product Details

  • Series: Command (Book 7)
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184908145X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849081450
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Osprey has developed a series, "Leadership, Strategy, Conflict," in which military leaders are profiled in a slender volume, made accessible to an audience not interested in 600 page tomes. Here, the subject is Confederate General, Robert E. Lee.

His early life featured real challenges, as his father (a Revolutionary War hero) foundered economically; his mother was ill. He attended West Point and was exemplary. The book then tells of his slow advancement in the ranks. Her began as an engineer, and played an important role in the Mexican War as a part of Winfield Scott's staff. He did meritorious service in that conflict.

Then, the period between the Mexican War and the Civil War. He was the commander in charge when abolitionist John Brown was taken at Harper's Ferry. When the civil War loomed, he was actually given an offer to be commander of the Union forces. He demurred when Virginia seceded, staying loyal to his state.

Then, his service to the Confederate States of America. From the Seven Days to Second Manassas to Antietam (a mistake) to Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville to Gettysburg (well described by the author as Lee not at his best) to the Overland Campaign to the siege at Petersburg.

The book fairly describes his strengths and weaknesses (including the inability to chew out subordinates who didn't carry out their assigned tasks). There are some issues, though. His description of JEB Stuart as having bested Union cavalry at Brandy Station may be technically correct, but most people judge this a blow to Stuart's horsemen. The statement that when Lee learned that Stuart was nearing the battlefield at Gettysburg that this led him to (Page 36) "commit himself to battle. . ." is odd. His description of the logic of "Pickett's charge" is also curious.

All in all, a nice addition to this series. . . .
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By Yoda
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is part of Osprey Publishing's "Command" series. As such, its purpose is to provide a brief introduction (the book is only 64 pages in length, about a third of which consist of illustration of one kind or another) to its subject with an emphasis on his "style" of command. Hence anyone who is interested in a full length biography and historiography of his military campaigns should look elsewhere. The relevant question to ask is how well does the book do in its attempt to accomplish the series' specific goals? The answer is, unfortunately, mixed.

On the positive side the book does provide a decent succinct biographical introduction to his career. The reader is provided with a history of his career, from his years at West Point, his experience in the Mexican-American War and, of course, the positions he held with the Confederacy prior to his assuming the position of supreme commander. The reader is also provided a historiography of the major battles he was involved in (and in many cases that others like Jackson primarily commanded).

On the negative side, however, the reader learns just about nothing about his particular command "style". There is little in the book that sheds light as to how Lee differed from commanders of the time, either Union or Confederate. The only meaningful insight into Lee's command style is that he gave his subordinates too much leeway and did not push them enough to follow through on his commands. This was particularly the case with respect to his relationship with General Longstreet. He let Longstreet have his way to the point that many would have considered, justifiably, insubordination.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questions Editorial Review September 25, 2010
The Editorial Review makes me wonder about the book. Are the glaring mistakes the editors or the author's? Lee and Grant were certainly not classmates at West Point and by no stretch of the imagination could one say they were "comrades" in the old Army. According to my reading of history, they may have been passing acquaintences during a brief period of the Mexican War, but Lee didn't subsequently remember it. Having not read the book, my "rating" should not be considered, but is required for submission.
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