A hefty (nearly 700 pp.) and respectful dual biography of the Civil War generals, from wife-and-husband Andersons (Nancy...

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THE GENERALS: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

A hefty (nearly 700 pp.) and respectful dual biography of the Civil War generals, from wife-and-husband Andersons (Nancy Scott, a reporter for the San Diego Tribune; Dwight, Pol. Sci./Univ. of Cal. at San Diego and author of Abraham Lincoln: The Quest for Immortality). In an interlocking manner, the authors dwell on the many similarities and some of the differences between Grant and Lee. Both emerged from prosperous families, learned their trade at West Point, and served their nation admirably in the Mexican War. There are moments of great poignance here, such as the occasion of Lee's tearful decision not to accept command over the entire Union Army and, thus, turn his sword against his native Virginia. Or Lee's elegant expression of duty in responding to his wife's pleas to return home in 1835: ""But why do you urge my immediate return and tempt one in the strongest manner, to endeavor to get excused from the performance of a duty, imposed on me by my Profession, for the pure gratification of my private feelings?. . .I rather require to be strengthened and encouraged to the full performance of what I am called on to execute. . ."" One of the most gripping scenes of the book occurs during the 1864 Wilderness battles, when Lee and Grant, facing each other for the first time, across a battlefield littered with 7,000 dead and wounded, debate military niceties in notes back and forth for hours, in an effort to arrive at a mode of rescuing the injured. When agreement is finally reached and a truce called for two hours, there are only two men left alive on the field. Based upon eyewitness accounts, diaries, and memoirs, this is a handy and well-written one-volume summation of two great military careers for those who don't wish to plod through Freeman's four volumes on Lee or McFeeley's Grant (1981).

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987