GENERAL GEORGE E. PICKETT IN LIFE AND LEGEND by Lesley J. Gordon

GENERAL GEORGE E. PICKETT IN LIFE AND LEGEND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A unique look at one of the most famous Confederate generals, and at how his wife built and controlled his memory after his death. Gordon (History/Univ. of Akron) looks carefully at the early years of General Pickett, leader of the most famous failed attack in American history (his charge at Gettysburg), and goes on to look at his career on the western frontier and his decision to serve in the Confederate army. Pickett’s career was solid but not stellar, and Gordon covers it in balanced detail. The story gathers momentum with Pickett’s marriage in 1864 to his third wife, LaSalle, and his command at Gettysburg. Following the war, the financially ruined couple fled to Canada to escape prosecution for war crimes, and Pickett was forced to lobby his West Point classmate Ulysses S. Grant for a pardon. After Pickett’s death in 1875, LaSalle toured the country on the lecture circuit, portraying herself as a southern belle and her husband as the embodiment of all of the ideals southern masculinity and published Pickett and his Men. Gordon analyzes the sub-surface forces that shaped popular images of the Civil War in the years following it and looks at how LaSalle created a career for herself as a Confederate widow; she managed to make a living at it until 1931. Arguably, she shaped the manner in which Pickett’s career will forever be viewed by “creating” a cache of letters that offer a vision of the soldier that was far greater than his actual persona. Gordon’s analysis of Lasalle is cutting and offers a close-up of a major figure of the Civil War. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8078-2450-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998




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