The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History

by Jonathan Horn


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The “compelling…modern and readable perpective” (USA TODAY) of Robert E. Lee, the brilliant soldier bound by marriage to George Washington’s family but turned by war against Washington’s crowning achievement, the Union.

On the eve of the Civil War, one soldier embodied the legacy of George Washington and the hopes of leaders across a divided land. Both North and South knew Robert E. Lee as the son of Washington’s most famous eulogist and the son-in-law of Washington’s adopted child. Each side sought his service for high command. Lee could choose only one.

In The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn reveals how the officer most associated with Washington went to war against the union that Washington had forged. This extensively researched and gracefully written biography follows Lee through married life, military glory, and misfortune. The story that emerges is more complicated, more tragic, and more illuminating than the familiar tale. More complicated because the unresolved question of slavery—the driver of disunion—was among the personal legacies that Lee inherited from Washington. More tragic because the Civil War destroyed the people and places connecting Lee to Washington in agonizing and astonishing ways. More illuminating because the battle for Washington’s legacy shaped the nation that America is today. As Washington was the man who would not be king, Lee was the man who would not be Washington. The choice was Lee’s. The story is America’s.

A must-read for those passionate about history, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington introduces Jonathan Horn as a masterly voice in the field.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476748573
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 526,134
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Horn is an author and former White House presidential speechwriter whose Robert E. Lee biography, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, was a Washington Post bestseller. Jonathan has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and PBS NewsHour, and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times’ Disunion series, Politico Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Weekly Standard, and other outlets. A graduate of Yale University, he lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, daughter, and dog. His latest book is Washington’s End.

Table of Contents

List of Maps xi

Prologue: The View 1

Part I Antebellum

Chapter 1 Foundering Father 11

Chapter 2 A Potomac Son 26

Chapter 3 Lee's Union 41

Part II Casus Belli

Chapter 4 Half Slave, Half Free 59

Chapter 5 Washington's Sword 79

Chapter 6 The Decision 93

Part III Bellum

Chapter 7 The Battle for Arlington 115

Chapter 8 The Last Heir 130

Chapter 9 White House Burning 145

Chapter 10 Emancipation 169

Chapter 11 The Indispensable Man 184

Chapter 12 The Cemetery 204

Part IV Postbellum

Chapter 13 Washington and Lee 225

Epilogue: The Bridge 245

Acknowledgments 251

Appendix: Custis-Lee Family Tree 253

Notes 257

Selected Bibliography 333

Map and Illustration Credit 347

Index 349

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