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Children's LiteratureRobert E. Lee remains one of the central figures of the American Civil War. A proud and religious man, Lee had a brilliant career in the United States Army prior to the war's outbreak. For example, during the Mexican War, Lee's bravery was so stellar that his commander, General Winfield Scott, saw him as an invaluable asset and a superior person. In 1861, General Scott offered Lee command of the Federal forces. Lee declined this offer in order to defend his home state of Virginia. As is well known to students of American history, Lee then went on to lead the illustrious but ultimately defeated Army of Northern Virginia. In this text, renowned historian James Robertson, Jr. presents the life of this famous soldier in a skillfully-written illustrated biography. He demonstrates a fine touch for narrative writing and capable research and the insertion of frequent quotations from the writings of Lee's contemporaries adds a first-hand element to the text that will enhance the reader's understanding of both Lee and the Civil War in general. If there is a weakness in this book it is a subtle tendency on the part of the author to follow the "Lee as saint" mythology so closely linked to "Lost Cause" apologists for Southern secession. Lee was a great but flawed man. Perhaps a bit more attention to Lee's weaknesses could have amplified what is nevertheless a fine book. 2005, Atheneum Books, Ages 12 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck