The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, & the Americans

Charles Royster, Author Knopf Publishing Group $30 (523p) ISBN 978-0-394-52485-6
In this fresh take on the Civil War, Royster ( Light-Horse Harry Lee ) examines two opposing generals who epitomize the extremes to which warfare was pushed between 1861 and 1865: Confederate Thomas ``Stonewall'' Jackson and the Union army's William T. Sherman, both of whom justified drastic means with elaborate claims of righteousness. For Jackson it was the righteousness of the Almighty. Desiring to annihilate his foe (while taking no prisoners), he convinced many people, including the soldiers whose lives he risked and lost, that God favored his every move. In Sherman's case it was the righteousness of retribution. Of the losing Confederates he said, ``They brought it on themselves. . . . They need to learn the folly of making war against the government.'' Royster impressively captures the implacable ruthlessness of these two generals and shows how their campaigns shattered certain ethical restraints, which have not been restored in America's subsequent wars. The chapters on Sherman's destruction of Columbia, S.C., the death of Jackson and the Grand Review of the Union formations in the nation's capital are magnificently done. Illustrations. History Book Club main selection. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 564 pages - 978-0-679-73878-7
Open Ebook - 484 pages - 978-0-307-76059-3
Hardcover - 978-0-517-14473-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1869-6
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