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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 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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