Books by Jr. Robertson

Released: Nov. 1, 2005

Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Appomattox. Any good biography of Robert E. Lee will inevitably cover a big slice of the Civil War and recreate one of the most dramatic tales in American history. Lee was the general who "led a revolution against a nation" and failed. Following his excellent Standing like a Stone Wall: The Life of General Thomas J. Jackson (2001), Robertson here offers a solid, if overly reverential, account of Lee, calling him "America's most respected historical figure" next to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—a questionable thesis. The lively prose style well matches the drama of the subject, and the volume is chock full of maps, archival photographs and illustrations. Formal footnotes and a solid bibliography are provided, though few sources for young readers are offered. Good for Civil War collections. (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

A sprawling life of the great Confederate cavalryman. Civil War historian Robertson (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) covers the well-known facts about Thomas Jackson's life, from his birth to a hardscrabble Scots-Irish farm family in 1824 to his death at Chancellorsville in 1863, giving special attention to Jackson's brilliance as a strategist. Along the way he examines Jackson's well-deserved reputation for bravery under fire, which earned him the sobriquet ``Stonewall.'' He points as well to some apparent contradictions in Jackson's character, among them his dislike of combat's aftermath—his first sight of a battlefield corpse, in the American war against Mexico, wrote young Jackson, ``filled me with as much sickening dismay as if I had been a woman''—but his thrill nonetheless at being in battle and hearing the Rebel yell (``the sweetest music I ever heard'') sounding all around him. Perhaps the greatest contradiction of all, Robertson notes, was Jackson's fervent religiosity, matched with his unswerving dedication to killing the Union foe. Robertson's insightful account of this character and his thoughtful narration of the many crucial battles in which he fought so capably make this the best biography of the general yet written. Robertson packs his text with well-chosen detail, and he unfolds his narrative at a leisurely, careful pace. It takes him 25 detail-filled pages to trace the events surrounding Jackson's death by friendly fire. There is so much detail in these pages, in fact, that the sheer volume of facts sometimes overwhelms the larger story, which is Jackson's essential tactical contributions to the Confederate cause at the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Malvern Hill, and Chancellorsville. Die-hard Civil War buffs will find this an essential addition to their collections. (17 b&w photos, 14 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour) Read full book review >
CIVIL WAR! by Jr. Robertson
Released: April 10, 1992

A scholar argues that, despite its plethora of horrors, in the long run the Civil War was a Good Thing for this country. Robinson's narrative is a conventional tale of generals and battles, with time out for brief chapters or side essays on civilian life, black soldiers, flags, etc. His analysis is reduced to a few clear, simple themes: the cultural and economic clash between North and South; the devastation caused by poor sanitary practices (2,800 black troops were killed in action while 65,000 died of disease); the stabilization resulting from the establishment of federal (over state) authority. Some of his ideas are questionable—e.g., he glorifies American soldiers as ``the greatest fighting men of all time,'' and touts the rifle as a new development—and though readers will get a good sense of how the war looked from the many contemporary photos and newspaper illustrations, the occasional maps do little to clarify the author's accounts of strategy and troop movements. Considering both the recent avalanche of books on the subject and the older classics widely available, a supplementary purchase. Glossary; bibliography; long chronology; index. (Nonfiction. 11-14) Read full book review >