After the Thunder: Fourteen Men Who Shaped Post-Civil War America

Wilmer L. Jones, Author Taylor Trade Publishing $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-87833-176-5
A more accurate subtitle for this opinionated portrait of Civil War-era fighters and statesmen might have been ""Military Heroes of the Civil War."" Jones, a member of the Baltimore Civil War Roundtable, studied the conflict for 40 years and became curious about its aftermath: ""What happened to the participants after the war?"" Here he presents a collection of colorful portraits of a range of Southern and Northern men--including Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, William Tecumseh Sherman, Andrew Johnson and George Custer. Johnson was ""in almost every way unfit to be president"" in Jones's damning (and debatable) view; he also opines that Grant's most important contribution as president was shattering the Ku Klux Klan and that Confederate president Jefferson Davis ""treated his slaves leniently..., had a false notion of what slavery was and never fully understood its evil."" At times far too sympathetic and adulatory of Lost Cause heroes, Jones nearly veers off into hagiography in his chapter on Lee. However, this vibrant narrative, strikingly illustrated with period photographs, bristles with telling details and memorable anecdotes and portrays vividly the pathos of the war and its aftermath. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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