This book is so far outside of the type of book that I normally read, but I wanted to read it because I know very little about certain individuals, like Lee, who have helped make our country what it is today. And as I read this book, I came to realize that many of my assumptions of Lee were wrong. I suppose I have always thought that since he was a southern general, he must have been fighting for slavery. But that was not true. Apparently, Lee thought slavery was a horrible and detestable. He did not fight for the south because he wanted slavery, but he fought for the south because he believed in states rights. He strongly believed that the U.S. government should not interfer with state governments. This strong view led him to fight for the south when his state, Virginia, left the Union.
He was a decorated soldier. He was one of the most incredible men our nation has ever known. He was a kind and compassionate leader. Towards the end of the book, the author states, "Lee's leadership gift was that he could inspire men to go on when going seemed impossible, to dig deep within themselves for the will to endure" (224). That seemed to summarize his life. He stood tall against the north when he was radically outnumbered in troops, money, and supplies. He was a brilliant planner. If some of those under his leadership would have been half as dedicated as he was, our country might be different today.
It seemed like most people liked and appreciated Lee. What I loved the most about Lee was that he was a compassionate husband and father. He loved his dear wife even when he was away from her. He wrote constantly to her. He would stop on the battlefield to pick flowers to send to his precious daughters. He trained his sons to be soldiers like him. This book does a great job of painting Lee, the man, not just Lee, the general.
The only negative I would have about this book is that it moves so rapidly through the battle scenes of the Civil War that it was difficult keeping track of the key people and places. I am sure for someone who knows names and places already, the overview that is given would be helpful. But since I did not have this information, it was difficult to keep track of who was who and where the battles were taking place. However, that might not be the fault of John Perry, but probably mine for not knowing more about the war.
In the end, I would highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading other books in The Generals series.
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