Robert E. Lee: A Life Portrait

David Eicher, Author
David Eicher, Author Taylor Trade Publishing $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-87833-950-1
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 10/01/1997
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In presenting a new biography of the great Civil War general, Eicher (Civil War Battlefields) approaches a complex subject carefully. Following his surrender at Appomattox to Ulysses S. Grant, Lee became a Southern icon, lauded by his contemporaries, friend and foe. In recent years, however, Lee's pure image has come under increasing scrutiny by a number of scholars, leading to a score of revisionist interpretations of Lee the general. Eicher has written a biography aimed toward the general reader who wants an overview of Lee without getting bogged down in too much detail or controversy. He points out Lee's genius, but also his shortcomings and mistakes as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and he concludes with a survey of how some Confederate generals built Lee's reputation after his death in 1870 into the most important symbol of the Lost Cause. Accompanying the text are 375 illustrations. These include 169 images of the general--photographs, engravings, and paintings--as well as 206 images showing his contemporaries, battlefields, documents important to the Lee story and more. Appendices include a concise summary of Lee's military service, a comprehensive Lee genealogy and an annotated list of his famous relatives, staff and five war horses. This well-written, richly illustrated book is sure to become a favorite of Civil War buffs. (Sept.)
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