JEFFERSON DAVIS: TRAGIC HERO by Hudson Strode

JEFFERSON DAVIS: TRAGIC HERO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This last volume of the author's 3-volume biography of Jefferson Davis (I, Jefferson Davis, American Patriot; II, Jefferson Davis, Confederate President) covers the final 25 years of Davis's life, from January, 1864, to November, 1889. Admittedly biased, the Southern author allows Davis few faults, his enemies, both Northern and Southern, few virtues. Telling of the political and military problems confronting Davis, his hero, in the last year of the Confederacy, the author describes Davis's flight from Richmond in March, 1865, and Lee's surrender and its aftermath, and writes with understandable virulence of Grant, Sherman, and the bitter years of Reconstruction. Not all Southern historians, however, will share the author's sympathy with Davis's insistence that the Confederate Army, bled white by war, should have continued fighting after Appomattox, or with his ill-judged attempt to escape to Texas, there to establish a new Confederacy. In the account of Davis's capture and imprisonment, the best part of the book, the author for once sinks bias in the indignation every decent American must feel at the sadistic cruelty with which Davis was treated: manacled and in leg-irons, he was for months held in solitary confinement, denied a knife and fork, and permitted neither to write nor receive letters. Paroled through the efforts of indignant Northerners, Davis spent his last years in not too successful business ventures and in traveling with his overwhelming wife Varina; he died in New Orleans at the age of 81. Although lacking Freeman's balanced judgment and Dowdey's cool Southern appraisal of the Confederacy, this one-sided biography of a tragic American should, with its companion volumes, find a place in both Northern and Southern Civil War collections.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World