cover image Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson

S.C. Gwynne. Scribner, $35 (688p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7328-9

Journalist Gwynne follows his bestselling Empire of the Summer Moon with a stimulating study of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Jackson today remains a figure of almost mythical proportions and embodies the more heroic elements of the Southern cause. Gwynne, in a primarily chronological narrative, reveals him to have been an early master of modern mobile warfare and a clear-eyed interpreter of what modern “pitiless war was all about.” In 1861, Jackson was “part of that great undifferentiated mass of second-rate humanity who weren’t going anywhere in life.” But underneath his efflorescent eccentricities, he was “highly perceptive and exquisitely sensitive,” as well as an “incisive and articulate observer.” In the spring of 1862 those qualities shaped the brilliant Shenandoah Valley campaign that reinvigorated a stagnant Confederate war effort and established him as the “most famous military figure in the Western world.” Exhaustion limited Jackson’s contributions to the Peninsular Campaign, but from Second Bull Run through Antietam to his mortal wounding at Chancellorsville, his achievements and his legend grew. Gwynne tells Jackson’s story without editorializing and readers are likely to agree that, without Jackson, Lee “would never again be quite so brilliant,” while even in the North Jackson was considered, rather than a rebel, a “gentleman and... fundamentally an American.” Maps and 16-page photo insert. (Oct.)