The Man, the Soldier, the Legend
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 A sprawling life of the great Confederate cavalryman. Civil War historian Robertson (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) covers the well-known facts about Thomas Jackson's life, from his birth to a hardscrabble Scots-Irish farm family in 1824 to his death at Chancellorsville in 1863, giving special attention to Jackson's brilliance as a strategist. Along the way he examines Jackson's well-deserved reputation for bravery under fire, which earned him the sobriquet ``Stonewall.'' He points as well to some apparent contradictions in Jackson's character, among them his dislike of combat's aftermath--his first sight of a battlefield corpse, in the American war against Mexico, wrote young Jackson, ``filled me with as much sickening dismay as if I had been a woman''--but his thrill nonetheless at being in battle and hearing the Rebel yell (``the sweetest music I ever heard'') sounding all around him. Perhaps the greatest contradiction of all, Robertson notes, was Jackson's fervent religiosity, matched with his unswerving dedication to killing the Union foe. Robertson's insightful account of this character and his thoughtful narration of the many crucial battles in which he fought so capably make this the best biography of the general yet written. Robertson packs his text with well-chosen detail, and he unfolds his narrative at a leisurely, careful pace. It takes him 25 detail-filled pages to trace the events surrounding Jackson's death by friendly fire. There is so much detail in these pages, in fact, that the sheer volume of facts sometimes overwhelms the larger story, which is Jackson's essential tactical contributions to the Confederate cause at the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Malvern Hill, and Chancellorsville. Die-hard Civil War buffs will find this an essential addition to their collections. (17 b&w photos, 14 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-02-864685-1
Page count: 924pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


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