Wartime Washington: The Civil War Letters of Elizabeth Blair Lee

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Daughter of presidential adviser Francis Preston Blair and wife of naval Commander Samuel Phillips Lee (a third cousin of Robert E. Lee), Elizabeth Blair Lee was a conventional 19th-century wife and mother. During the Civil War, while her husband was at sea, she wrote him faithfully, documenting her observations on the turmoil overtaking this country. Mrs. Lee's political contacts and residence in Washington, D.C., gave her a superior vantage point on the war, but her letters also include personal news of friends and family, particularly of her son Francis Preston Blair Lee, who comforted her in her husband's absence. Laas (coauthor of Lincoln's Lee: The Life of Samuel Phillips Lee) has culled 368 from 930 existing letters, leaving them nearly intact--even down to minor spelling and grammatical errors--and arranging them into 21 chronological periods, each with an introductory paragraph covering milestones in the family and nation. Although sometimes rambling, Mrs. Lee's letters reflect her compassion and intelligence and witness an era much less rushed than ours. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Nov.)
Library Journal
The wife of a Union admiral and member of one of America's most prominent political families, Lee, who lived across the street from the White House, was in a unique position to remark on the activities of Washington's wartime officialdom. A political animal herself, she did this with great skill. Lee was an ardent Unionist but no ``ultra,'' and her acute assessments of the mighty, from generals to cabinet members, and judgments on the course of events, offer historians invaluable insights. Perhaps even more singular is the vivid portrait she has left of domestic and social life. This intelligently edited collection of almost 400 letters by a well-connected, intelligent, and alert woman is a treasure trove for period specialists and scholars of the American family.-- Thom as E. Schott, Office of History, 17th Air Force, Sembach, Germany
Reprint of the work first published in 1974 by Dial Press, published again in 1989 by the First Southern Methodist U. Press, and appearing here with a 1989 Apologia by Capps, addressing the question of writing history from a novelist's point of view. The raid took place in 1871, when a band of Kiowa attacked a wagontrain. The massacre drew attention to Indian activity on the frontier and resulted, ultimately, in the final removal of the Indian threat in Texas. Presents 368 out the existing 930 letters written by Lee to her naval officer husband. As an aristocrat from a prominent political family living across the street from the White House, she had much to report about the personalities and events of the War as well as domestic and child-rearing concerns. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252068591
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 1,481,579
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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