A sympathetic portrait of “Grant’s most dependable troubleshooter.”



A former reporter and AP editor examines the career of one of the Civil War’s great commanders.

An undistinguished West Point graduate, Lt. Philip A. Sheridan served eight years in the west before the outbreak of the Civil War. By the time the war ended, only Grant and Sherman outranked “Little Phil.” Battle by battle, Wheelan (Libby Prison Breakout: The Daring Escape from the Notorious Civil War Prison, 2010, etc.) charts the swift rise of the relentlessly aggressive Sheridan. Modest, energetic and brave, Sheridan was an innovator, using mounted troops both as an independent strike force and in support of infantry operations. His battlefield heroics, careful planning, use of intelligence and topographical information, and ability to improvise prompted Grant to conclude that he had “no superior as a general.” Yet Sheridan has been slighted by historians, receiving far less attention than his adversaries and even his subordinate Custer or his postwar scout William Cody. Wheelan attributes this neglect to the loss of all Sheridan’s papers in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Perhaps, but it’s also likely that his lengthy postwar career has made him a problematic subject for modern audiences. Sheridan was reviled in the South, where his strict enforcement of Reconstruction only revived memories of his wartime devastation of the Shenandoah Valley. An early proponent of total war, he believed reducing the Confederacy to poverty was the quickest way to end the bloodshed. Moreover, as commander of all U.S. troops west of the Mississippi, he used the same tactics against the Plains Indians, once notoriously remarking, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” Wheelan ably defends Sheridan, emphasizing the fierce sense of duty that also accounted for his stout protection of reservation Indians from rapacious agents, freedmen from ex-Rebels, settlers from Indians and Yellowstone National Park from poachers and corporate exploiters.

A sympathetic portrait of “Grant’s most dependable troubleshooter.”

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-306-82027-4

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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