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Book Reviews155 Robert E. Lee. By Earl Schenck Miers. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1956. Pp. 203, viii. $2.50.) The Death of Lee: The Southern Collegian, October 15, 1870. Edited by Richard B. Harwell. (Atlanta: Emory University Library. 1956. Pp. 11, with facsimile. $0.75. ) the first of these items is one of the "Great Lives in Brief series being published by Alfred A. Knopf. This reviewer was somewhat skeptical that any author could, as the jacket blurb stated, capture "the essence of one of the most fascinating figures in our history" within the limited compass of 200 pages. Mr. Miers, contrary to expectations, has done a very fine job indeed. His note on sources indicates a wide range of background, and his easy, readable style makes the book an extremely pleasant experience. He is at once able to show how Lee the man and Lee the legend emerge from the smoke and battle of the Civil War. Yet he also reminds us of Lee's faults and foibles without detracting from the larger grandeur of his character. This is, of course, a book for the general reader. Historians may find a bone or two to pick with the author. Like most biographers, he sets up villains for his hero to overcome, and some readers will feel that the former are perhaps a little roughly handled, particularly "Old Joe" Johnston. One might also question whether Ulysses Grant deserves to be credited with the temperament of a poet and the adjectives "daring," "brilliant," and "passionately sensitive" (pp. 166-167). With Lee as the central character it is only natural that the author should ignore or minimize action outside the theater of the Army of Northern Virginia; yet there is perhaps too strong a tendency to depict the collapse of the Confederacy as the collapse of Lee's army. Students of military strategy, notably Liddell Hart, point out that the war was won (or lost) in the West with the loss of the Mississippi and Sherman's march to the sea. But these defects, if such they are, do not detract from the excellence of Mr. Miers' work. Neither do such minor slips as referring to the towering John B. Hood as "little" (p. 84) and the misspelling of Cadett's ("Cudett's") Station (p. 94) and Governor John Letcher ("Lechter," p. 28). AH in all, one is left with the feeling that Mr. Miers deserves his publisher's statement that he has given us a "vivid and penetrating portrait" of General Lee. Emory University Press has published a pamphlet which contains a facsimile of the Washington College student paper presenting the story of General Lee's death at Lexington, Virginia, where he was the college's first post-war president . Also included are resolutions of the student body, faculty, and others. A brief, excellent introduction by Richard Harwell tells of General Lee's work in reviving the college from its wartime collapse and of the significance of the "inheritance of character" which he left the South. John Pancake Goshen Pass, Virginia ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
p. 155
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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