Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order

John F. Marszalek, Author Free Press $40 (635p) ISBN 978-0-02-920135-0
This comprehensively researched, ably written biography depicts Wiliam Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) as unable to accept disorder and uncertainty because of an unstable childhood, reinforced by economic failure in post-Jacksonian America. The Civil War offered the general both an ultimate challenge and an ultimate opportunity. He was, however, anything but a prophet of total war for its own sake, shows Marszalek, a history professor at Mississippi State University. Sherman's objective was not to destroy the South, but to convince southerners to abandon the struggle. Attacking Confederate pride and property, as in the March to the Sea, was a step towards restoration of national harmony and integrity. Marszalek exaggerates the uniqueness and the intensity of Sherman's ``passion for order,'' for few professional soldiers accept disorder as a desirable social norm. Sherman's approach to fighting the Civil War can be alternatively interpreted as a common-sense response to an evolving reality. Nevertheless, this provocative volume stands as an outstanding modern study of one of this country's great public figures. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 635 pages - 978-0-679-74989-9
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