Jeffry D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, most recently Cavalryman of the Lost Cause and The Sword of Lincoln. His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and Blue and Gray. A former history teacher at Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.
This is the most comprehensive military biography to date of the man Robert E. Lee called ``my war horse.'' Wert ( Mosby's Rangers ) makes a strong case for James Longstreet (1821-1904) as the best corps commander on either side of the Civil War. A superb battle captain and a masterful tactician, he clearly recognized the limitations of the offensive under mid-19th century conditions. For Longstreet, Gettyburg in particular was not an opportunity, but a mistake. Wert argues convincingly that events vindicated Longstreet's opposition to Lee's insistence on repeatedly attacking the strong Union positions. Longstreet also recognized more clearly than most of his Confederate contemporaries that war was not an absolute. He accepted the political consequences of military defeat; his reconciliation with the restored Union brought him the open contempt of irreconcilables like Jubal Early. The resulting controversies obscured Longstreet's military reputation. This work restores a balanced view of the career of one of America's great soldiers. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Ulysses S. Grant knew both Pillow and Longstreet. The former he mocked; the latter he praised. Two new biographies will no doubt contribute to the controversies surrounding each of these Confederate generals. Oddly enough, the inferior general has inspired the better biography. Hughes ( The Battle of Belmont: Grant Strikes South , Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 1991) and Stonesifer (history, Edinboro Univ. of Pennsylvania) offer a balanced perspective on the life of Pillow, a man usually treated simply as a standing joke. They trace with skill and compassion his career as a Tennessee Democrat, Mexican War general, and Confederate commander, giving him his due without apologizing for his shortcomings. Their treatment of his disastrous performance at Fort Donelson enriches our understanding of how Grant came to secure his first major victory. Less satisfactory is Wert's explication of the life of Longstreet, one of Lee's most prized lieutenants. It reflects Longstreet's disputatious personality, for Wert ( Mosby's Rangers , LJ 10/15/90) weighs in with his own opinions on various controversies in which the Confederate chieftain found himself, most notably why the Confederacy lost at Gettysburg. The book complements but does not replace William G. Piston's fine study of the postwar Longstreet ( Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant , Univ. of Georgia, 1987). Although these assessments break little new ground, they will be gobbled up by buffs and cognoscenti with seemingly insatiable appetites.-- Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
John Eisenhower The New York Times Book Review For those who
cut their teeth on such historians as Douglas Southall Freeman and
Bruce Catton, General James Longstreet provides insights and
viewpoints well worth the time and effort to read it.
Stephen B. Oates author of Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths A brilliant, provocative, riveting life, so much so that I found it impossible to put down. If I had to recommend just one biography of a Confederate military figure, this would be it.
Edward Colimore The Philadelphia Inquirer The best biography to date on this controversial soldier's life: thoroughly researched, fair and totally convincing.
Lynwood Abram Houston Chronicle A solid and richly detailed piece of military history. It casts strong light on a talented, complex and fascinating figure.
Gary Anderson The Washington Times A "must read" for Civil War buffs.
John J. Hennessy author of Return to Bull Run This provocative, well-written study should stand in the front rank of Confederate military biography.
Albert Castel author of Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 By far the best biography yet to be written of Lee's "old war horse."
Alan T. Nolan author of Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History Jeffry D. Wert gives us a historian's view of the general....[An] excellent addition to Civil War literature.