THE WHITE TECUMSEH by Stanley P. Hirshson


A Biography of William T. Sherman
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 A sympathetic biography that seems undecided whether to focus on Sherman the warrior or Sherman the family man. As Hirshson (History/Queens Coll.; The Lion of the Lord, 1969, etc.) himself notes in his preface, this is hardly the first recent study of Sherman. In fact, the general has been poked and prodded quite a lot of late, and Hirshson compares his experience watching various works emerge to ``the academic equivalent of having the contents of a six-shooter slowly emptied into one's body.'' Still, he has tried to turn this to his advantage, showing where his predecessors failed to use all available sources while at the same time culling from their works what he found useful. The result is a competent biography that, to justify its existence, stresses the importance of regimental histories of the Civil War, on which Hirshson relied most heavily. The problem is that while he spotlights them, it's clear that the more personal interactions of the Sherman family, especially the relationship between Sherman and his wife, Ellen, seem to be closest to his heart. The Sherman who emerges is a tormented man who, like his friend Ulysses S. Grant, tried his hand at a number of (mostly unsuccessful) ventures in the private sector but returned to the army during the Civil War to claim his share of glory. Sherman's record during that conflict is more difficult to categorize than Grant's, and it would be hard to point to a battle that he actually won. More impressive, claims Hirshson, were Sherman's marches, especially his famous (or infamous) March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864, which the author claims could have been accomplished only by a superbly skilled officer. Not the most comprehensive biography, but a good supplement for those eager to understand the ``firebug'' in all his somewhat dubious glory. (photos, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: May 9th, 1997
ISBN: 0-471-17578-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997


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