The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History

Jonathan Horn. Scribner, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4767-4856-6
Robert E. Lee was frequently compared to George Washington, not only because of his personality and “military genius” but also because he married Washington’s granddaughter, and his father had a close relationship with the Founding Father. But at the start of the Civil War, Lee made a decision that made such a comparison highly controversial: Lee rejected the Union and loyally followed Virginia into the Confederacy, despite his personal opposition to secession. Horn, a former White House speechwriter, puts a captivating spin on Lee’s story by comparing and contrasting the two great men. Detailed yet accessible descriptions of battles are coupled with stories of Lee’s personal life, revealing a man as complex as the war he reluctantly joined. Horn also points out the reverence for Washington during this time, and the way each side claimed him as their own. In the book’s oddly underdeveloped final strides, Horn condemns Lee for not following his initial opposition to rebellion, for “not being Washington.” That flaw aside, Horn takes a fair and equitable approach to Lee, his life, and his struggle over participation in a war that tore apart the nation. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/17/2014
Release date: 01/06/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4767-4858-0
Compact Disc - 1 pages - 978-1-62231-654-0
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4767-4857-3
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