Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee

Phillip Papas. New York Univ., $39 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8147-6765-8
According to Papas (That Ever Loyal Staten Island), British-born General Charles Lee singlehandedly persuaded and led America into the war that would lead to our nation's independence. Dismissed by historians and unknown to most Americans, Lee was an eccentric man of noble origin whose military career brought him to America, eventually serving as General George Washington's second-in-command during the Revolutionary War. Papas writes about Lee's life with enthusiasm, highlighting moments in history of his arguable influence such as Thomas Paine borrowing some of his ideas for his famous "Common Sense." While his retellings of battles are often dry and unimpressive, Papas excels at filling his readers in on the tumultuous nature of Lee's relationships, especially his enthralling partnership with Washington. From polarizing personality traits to fundamentally opposite military views, Lee and Washington are like night and day, where Lee is outspoken and gossipy Washington is reserved and impartial. Washington still believed in a structured and formal military style of combat, but Lee showed surprising insight with his support of modern, militia-style combat. Papas believes Lee a formidable soldier and a worthy contender with Washington, but his admiration of Lee falls short against the facts and history readers already know so well. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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