cover image Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee

Michael Korda. Harper, $40 (832p) ISBN 978-0-06-211629-1

In this exhaustive study, former Simon & Schuster editor-in-chief Korda (Ulysses S. Grant) examines the life of Robert E. Lee from start to finish, illuminating not just the man, but his extended family and the society which produced him. While Korda's treatment verges on hero worship, he explores Lee's qualities and contradictions thoroughly, approaching him first and foremost as a state patriot, loyal to Virginia before any other cause. He further presents Lee as a military genius, a brilliant engineer (Lee re-channeled the Mississippi River near St. Louis), a spiritual descendant of George Washington, an embodiment of Napoleonic tactics, and a living legend in his own time. History has supported most of these claims; Korda backs up the rest with an accessible and authoritative account of Lee's career. Naturally, while Lee's schooling and early service are covered, the bulk of this book is reserved for the events of the Civil War. The size of this tome is intimidating but fitting, given its subject: Lee, the famed American general whose legend still looms long after the end of the Civil War. If not the gold standard for Lee biographies, this is a superbly engaging offering. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (May)