AGENT OF DESTINY by John S.D. Eisenhower


The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott
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 A great but frequently overlooked figure in America during the early decades of the 19th century now gets his due. Military historian Eisenhower (son of the late president, and author of Intervention! The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1993, etc.) describes a natural leader of imposing stature, overweening pride, exceptional courage, and wide learning, who possessed considerable organizational and diplomatic skills along with outstanding martial instincts. Descended from a Scottish warrior who followed ``Bonnie Prince Charlie'' and escaped from bloody Culloden Moor, Scott was educated at William and Mary College and trained as a lawyer. But he was a born soldier: He loved the glamour of the military life. He raised a ragtag national army to professional levels and boldly recruited social outcasts like Irish and German immigrants, offering advancement to ambitious ethnic men when other professions did not. As the nation's youngest general, Scott distinguished himself in the War of 1812, and he was a hero of the Mexican War in the 1840s. After a brilliant campaign fought entirely on foreign soil, he stormed and captured Mexico City despite considerable political maneuvering on the battlefield and the homefront by a variety of influential enemies. In peacetime, he served successfully as a diplomat to the Canadians, the British, the Seminoles, and the Cherokees. Eisenhower argues that the outspoken Scott's military exploits vastly overshadowed those of Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War--but Taylor, who became president in 1850, was an astute politician and Scott, who lost his bid for the presidency in 1852, was not. Scott served 15 presidents, from Jefferson to Andrew Johnson, retiring as general- in-chief. In an afflicted old age, he organized the defense of Washington and started to build the Union Army in 1861. While Eisenhower largely skirts Scott's personal life, he offers a vivid portrait of Scott's times and accomplishments, and of the violent young nation in which he came to prominence.

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-84451-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997


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