Book Review: Robert E. Lee

I’m back from vacation!

Thought I would get a short review up of my vacation book Robert E. Lee: Lessons in Leadership  which is part of the Great Generals series. I picked this book up at a used bookstore on the way back from INCITE and was pretty excited to read it. I consider myself to be a fan of history and Robert E. Lee has always been a character that has intrigued me. I read my first biography of him in middle school and studied the Civil War in college. Because of this, I wasn’t really expecting to learn a lot from the read, it would rather be an interesting and enjoyable read.

I was wrong.

Somewhere along the way my view of the Civil War has been morphing. I grew up with the idea that it was the “war of northern aggression” but came to the realization in college that slavery was the main issue. How can I admire a man that led Confederate forces that were, in essence, fighting for the right to enslave people? This has been a question I’ve been dealing with in my own mind for several years now.

Because of this realization and this struggle, I was able to approach the book with more of an open mind and a clean slate than my previous reads on Lee and the Civil War.

I found Lee to still be an admirable character. And there were some definite lessons in leadership that were learned throughout the book (though admittedly, they were few and farther between than the book’s title leads you to believe). Lee had already freed the slaves he inherited before the Emancipation Proclamation and saw his fight as one for Virginia, not one for the Confederate States of America. He bowed out of the fight gracefully and honorably and even applied for US citizenship right after the war. (It turns out his paperwork was misplaced and he wasn’t granted citizenship until 1975).

While it seems that my view on the Civil War has been morphing, my view of Lee as Virginia’s finest gentleman has not. I would encourage anyone interested in the Civil War or Lee to take a look at this book.

I plan on reading a Stonewall Jackson biography next, know of any good ones?

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Filed under Chi Alpha, manliness

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