Robert E. Lee: Virginia Soldier, American Citizen

Overview

To some, Robert E. Lee is a beloved general, held in the highest regard. To others, he is one of history's most paradoxical heroes. He fought passionately to defend his homeland and was one of the nation's greatest soldiers, yet his name is often inextricably linked with slavery and secession.
In 1861 Lee was Lincoln's first choice to lead the Union troops in the Civil War. But a strong loyalty to Virginia held Lee back. Instead he chose to become the commanding officer of the ...

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Overview

To some, Robert E. Lee is a beloved general, held in the highest regard. To others, he is one of history's most paradoxical heroes. He fought passionately to defend his homeland and was one of the nation's greatest soldiers, yet his name is often inextricably linked with slavery and secession.
In 1861 Lee was Lincoln's first choice to lead the Union troops in the Civil War. But a strong loyalty to Virginia held Lee back. Instead he chose to become the commanding officer of the Confederacy. Lee had great success in battle by spitting his forces and unleashing suprise attacks. His victory at Chancellorville, where his troops soundly defeated an enemy twice their size, remains the most astonishing.
However, only when he surrendered in 1865 did the nation understand the kind of man Robert E. Lee truly was. He was kind and loving, giving all of himself to a reconciliation between the North and the South. In this meticulously researched biography, James I. Robertson explores the life of one of the most revered — and misunderstood — Civil War Generals.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Robert 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
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-A solid portrait of a complex man. The clearly written text describes Lee's birth into an aristocratic family and childhood spent in "genteel poverty." Inspired by George Washington, he chose a military career, graduating from West Point. The Mexican War turned him into a hero and gave him insight into what leads to success in battle. Following postings as head of the U.S. Military Academy and on the frontier, he returned home to his Virginia plantation and eventually freed his slaves. As war approached, he declined to lead the Federal forces, instead accepting command of the Army of Virginia. Robertson conveys Lee's war tactics, tracing both his triumphs and failures, and his admirable character and dedication to the cause. Readers will gain a greater understanding not only of his life and contributions but also of the Civil War. Extensive primary-source quotes, black-and-white reproductions, and maps bring the narrative to life. A useful resource for reports, this book will also attract history buffs.-Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Appomattox. Any good biography of Robert E. Lee will inevitably cover a big slice of the Civil War and recreate one of the most dramatic tales in American history. Lee was the general who "led a revolution against a nation" and failed. Following his excellent Standing like a Stone Wall: The Life of General Thomas J. Jackson (2001), Robertson here offers a solid, if overly reverential, account of Lee, calling him "America's most respected historical figure" next to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln-a questionable thesis. The lively prose style well matches the drama of the subject, and the volume is chock full of maps, archival photographs and illustrations. Formal footnotes and a solid bibliography are provided, though few sources for young readers are offered. Good for Civil War collections. (Nonfiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689857317
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 964,068
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James I. Robertson Jr. is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at Virginia Tech. He published the definitive adult biography of Stonewall Jackson, Stonewall Jackson: the Man, the Soldier, the Legend, and also wrote Standing Like a Stone Wall for young adults. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments

Introduction

Chapter I The Making of a Soldier

Chapter II Nation versus Country

Chapter III Rocky Path to Army Command

Chapter IV Brilliance in the Field

Chapter V The Bloodiest Day

Chapter VI Loss of an Arm

Chapter VII Gettysburg

Chapter VIII Forced on the Defensive

Chapter IX From Siege to Defeat

Chapter X National Symbol

Notes

Works Cited

Index

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