cover image Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott

Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott

John S. D. Eisenhower, Author Free Press $27.5 (416p) ISBN 978-0-684-84451-0

Despite the publisher's contention that this is ""the first-ever biography"" of Winfield Scott (1786-1866), Eisenhower's (Intervention!) fine work is actually the latest of several previous biographies of the esteemed general, and the first major work on him since Charles W. Elliott's classic Winfield Scott (1937), now generally unavailable for modern readers. Scott served 14 U.S. presidents, rising from captain in 1798 to general-in-chief of the U.S. Army in 1841. His service in the War of 1812 brought him to national attention; his superb performance in the Mexican War showered international fame upon him. In between, he wrote General Regulations for the Army, the first comprehensive set of military bylaws. Eisenhower, using published primary sources as well as secondary literature, has crafted a first-rate biography that covers the general's flaws (a large ego and quick temper) as well as his military genius, along with his presidential ambitions. This is a nuanced, knowing and overdue study of an influential American who is almost forgotten today except by those who study the art of war. Maps. (Dec.)