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Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order Paperback – January 13, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
This provocative and ably written biography views Sherman's military career in light of his passion for social order and intellectual certainty.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Sherman taught America that "War is hell" as he swept through Georgia and the Carolinas to destroy the Confederates' will to resist. The roots of Sherman's philosophy of total war and of his enigmatic personality have fascinated historians since the Civil War, when Sherman was thought both insane and brilliant. Now, in Marszalek's ( Grover Cleveland, Greenwood Pr., 1988) full and fascinating biography, we get the whole man--a warrior who hated killing but carried war to civilians; a foster son craving paternal approval who led hardened men; a writer and talker who preferred action to words. Marszalek finds the key to Sherman in his search for order, both in a private life troubled by uncertain financial prospects and relations and in a civil war, and later Indian wars, where old West Point verities did not apply. That Sherman was a troubled soul who sought to make his family appreciate his trials and triumphs is evident in the small cache of Sherman letters published for the first time in Joseph Ewing's Sherman at War (Morningside, 1992). The new letters notwithstanding, Marszalek's psychobiographical musings about Sherman's inner self doubtless will cause some historians to blush. But the rich historical contextual material on everything from Western finances, Indian wars in Florida and the West, and Civil War military policy make Marszalek's Sherman real and powerful. Highly recommended.
- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a casual student of Civil War history, i.e. returning to it periodically after bouts with trashier fare, I've heretofore lost sight of General Sherman in General Grant's shadow at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Even the commendable Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 failed to correct this failing. SHERMAN finally forced the man into my awareness.
This book by John Marszalek is an extensively researched, comprehensive, and solid summary of the General's life from boyhood to death. I would love to have seen what the late, great Shelby Foote could've done with the material, but that's neither here nor there.
SHERMAN includes all of the elements of the man's private and public life that you'd expect in a biography. What stood out for me were the elements that I never suspected: his sojourn in California from 1848 to 1857 both as a military officer and a private banker, his position as the first superintendent of the military academy that would later evolve into Louisiana State University, his eventual post-war falling-out with Grant, and his controversial views on race. Indeed, Sherman's personal view of slavery was akin to that of a Southern slave owner; he thought it consistent with the natural order of things. Furthermore, he opposed the abolitionists of the pre-war period believing their efforts conducive to the growing national disorder that eventually resulted in the Civil War. Sherman once said:
"The negro should be a free man, but not put on any equality with the Whites ... the effect of equality is illustrated in the character of the mixed race in Mexico and South America. Indeed it appears to me that the right of suffrage in our Country should be rather abridged than enlarged."
The chapters on Sherman's Civil War career make clear that he was significantly more successful as a war strategist than as a battlefield tactician as evidenced by his failures as a corps commander at Chickasaw Bayou (1862), as army commander when his Army of the Tennessee was repulsed at the north end of Missionary Ridge at the Battle of Chattanooga (1863), and as an army group commander at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (1864). His claim to fame is, of course, his brilliant march through Georgia and the Carolinas during which his forces occupied Atlanta and Savannah, GA, and Columbia, SC, unopposed after skillfully maneuvering enemy forces out of all three cities beforehand.
SHERMAN includes three photo sections, but no battlefield maps which otherwise might have been usefully illuminating.
What drove Sherman was his deep antipathy for disorder, whether it be military, social, familial, or political. He would've made the consummate military dictator if given the opportunity. He was a great commander and man for his time and place. In today's politically correct and "enlightened" times, he would be shunned.
"I look upon war with horror, but if it has to come I am here." - Gen. William T. Sherman