Robert E. Lee: An Album

Overview

The story in pictures of the life of Robert E. Lee.
It is our good fortune that the life of Robert E. Lee, hero of the Confederacy and a giant in American history, coincided with the early years of photography. It is thus possible for Emory M. Thomas, author of the highly acclaimed recent biography of Lee, to assemble a wealth of images that, with engaging and extended captions, give us a picture of the man and his times impossible to render ...

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Overview

The story in pictures of the life of Robert E. Lee.
It is our good fortune that the life of Robert E. Lee, hero of the Confederacy and a giant in American history, coincided with the early years of photography. It is thus possible for Emory M. Thomas, author of the highly acclaimed recent biography of Lee, to assemble a wealth of images that, with engaging and extended captions, give us a picture of the man and his times impossible to render with words alone.
Lee as commander of the Southern army is an imposing vision held by most Americans. Far less known are his childhood years; his family and home life; his early career as a civil engineer, redirecting the flow of the Mississippi River in St. Louis; his stint in the Mexican War; and his tenure as superintendent of West Point. After the Civil War Lee had a third career as president of Washington College (which would become Washington and Lee).
Here are the people, places, objects, and events that intersected with Lee's life, a full and fascinating pictorial biography.

Thomas's thorough examination of Lee's life reveals more than the man did himself, allowing readers to find meaning in Lee's failures and successes. Lee was actually a man of little expressed passion for whom war was a release. His sense of duty and ability to push to a conclusion helped him rise to power and survive his inevitable defeat.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Thomas, a distinguished historian of the Civil War The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience, has written a major analytical biography of Robert E. Lee. Synthesizing printed and manuscript sources, he presents Lee as neither the icon of Douglas Southall Freeman nor the flawed figure presented by Thomas Connolly. Lee emerges instead as a man of paradoxes, whose frustrations and tribulations were the basis for his heroism. Lee's work was his play, according to the author, and throughout his life he made the best of his lot. Believing that evil springs from selfishness, he found release in service to his family, his country and, not least, to the men he led. One of history's great captains and most beloved generals, he refused to take himself too seriously. This comic vision of life ultimately shaped an individual who was both more and less than his legend. Highly recommended. Photos not seen by PW. May
Library Journal
Gen. Robert Edward Lee was a leader who inspired great devotion among the men who followed him, and he continues to inspire great interest to this day. Thomas (The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865, 1979) presents a fresh look at the general. By examining Lee as a person, the biographer renders him intensely human. Lee is shown to be the son of an unstable father, a frustrated husband, and a devoted parent. He encountered many hardships but became great not "because of what he did ...but because of the way he lived." Given the prodigious number of Lee biographies available, this may be an optional purchase, but it is nonetheless a valuable addition to the studies of the general.-Robert A. Curtis, Taylor Memorial P.L., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Gilbert Taylor
homas positions this life of the Marble Man as a corrective to critical appraisals such as Alan Nolan's "Lee Reconsidered" 1991. Both authors must contend with Douglas Southall Freeman's enduring "R. E. Lee" 1934, so what a revealing delight are Thomas' newly mined nuggets that humanize the image of the imperturbable, heroic, saintly, and suffering Lee. Thomas extracts them from Lee's preCivil War career, when he was mastering battlements as an engineer before mastering battles. Family life predominates, especially the legacy of Lee's famed father, "Light Horse" Harry Lee, Washington's cavalry chief, who landed in debtors prison. Thomas makes the case that that disgrace impelled the son on a lifelong, if subconscious, quest to repair by personal example the family name; hence Lee's legendary devotion to honor, duty, and courtesy. Perhaps his unspoken embarrassment was compounded by dependence on others for a living his wealthy wife, the militaries, a college. The war narratives are professionally rendered Thomas is many times an acclaimed Civil War author, but always in focus is the shy, conflict-avoiding Lee personality, excepting conflicts at the Seven Days and elsewhere, of course. Be Lee traitor or patriot, he is a compelling American figure. This fine work is an obligatory acquisition.
Booknews
Thomas (history, U. of Georgia) recounts the story of Lee's life, revealing a man who, in spite of his many apparent triumphs including clearing his blighted family name, marrying properly, and commanding an army, was "always wanting something." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393047783
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2000
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Emory M. Thomas is Regent's Professor of History at the University of Georgia and author of a number of books on the Civil War. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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