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General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier: A Biography

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This stunning biography sheds new light on the commander of the Confederacy's First Corps--and shatters the accepted view of the Gettysburg defeat. Wert fully explores Longstreet's postwar years, during which he joined the Republican party, an act of political apostasy in the South. Photos. Index. Map. This stunning biography sheds new light on the commander of the Confederacy's First Corps--and shatters the accepted view of the Gettysburg defeat. Wert fully explores Longstreet's postwar years, during which he joined the Republican party, an act of political apostasy in the South. Photos. Index. Map.


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This stunning biography sheds new light on the commander of the Confederacy's First Corps--and shatters the accepted view of the Gettysburg defeat. Wert fully explores Longstreet's postwar years, during which he joined the Republican party, an act of political apostasy in the South. Photos. Index. Map. This stunning biography sheds new light on the commander of the Confederacy's First Corps--and shatters the accepted view of the Gettysburg defeat. Wert fully explores Longstreet's postwar years, during which he joined the Republican party, an act of political apostasy in the South. Photos. Index. Map.

30 review for General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alan Tomkins-Raney

    This biography is a great chronicle of Longstreet's Civil War career. It effectively redeems him from the vilification of Lost Cause myth promoters such as Jubal Early and William Pendleton, whose attacks on him largely started when he became a Republican after the war. He was clearly the most effective and talented corps commander in the Confederate military forces, though he did have episodes (Seven Pines, Lookout Valley, and Knoxville) where he blew it. His generalship was superb; his trouble This biography is a great chronicle of Longstreet's Civil War career. It effectively redeems him from the vilification of Lost Cause myth promoters such as Jubal Early and William Pendleton, whose attacks on him largely started when he became a Republican after the war. He was clearly the most effective and talented corps commander in the Confederate military forces, though he did have episodes (Seven Pines, Lookout Valley, and Knoxville) where he blew it. His generalship was superb; his troubles seemed to stem from his character defects when dealing with other strong willed people in authority. When at fault, instead of humbly admitting his wrongs and making amends, he had a tendency to scapegoat others and fudge the facts. The author is very thorough and fair in examining these aspects of Longstreet's career. What I found lacking in this book, though, was any in depth examination of Longstreet's core beliefs and governing personal philosophies. We get only vague hints from observing his behavior as related by the author. Maybe Longstreet and those who knew him intimately did not leave much record of such things, but the author doesn't even attempt to look at how Longstreet felt about slavery or constitutional government. The closest he comes is to succinctly note that Longstreet spent his formative years with an uncle who believed in states rights as espoused by John Calhoun, so therefore James Longstreet did, too. If this is all there was to the man's political and social outlook, then he didn't appear to be much of a deep thinker; and maybe he wasn't...who knows, because the author doesn't seem to think it very important to help us learn what made the man tick. The strongest and best characteristic of this book is the detailed descriptions of the military strategies and tactics, as well as the battle action, all told from the viewpoint of the Confederate generals as it all unfolded. The Civil War histories I have previously read have tended to have more of a Union or neutral, objective narrative viewpoint, so this made for a unique and fascinating reading experience from my perspective...going for a grim thrill ride inside the mind of the enemy, so to speak. It certainly didn't elicit any sympathy from me for the Confederate cause, but it made for excellent, intense reading. If you are a Civil War buff and want to know what it was like to campaign in Longstreet's First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, then I believe you will enjoy and appreciate this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Straw

    Hmm, a bit long and tedious. I was hoping it would focus more on the post-Civil War controversy but it focuses primarily on Civil War battles. Interesting man...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    General James Longstreet was one of the major corps commanders in the Confederate Army. At one point, General Robert E. Lee referred to Longstreet as his "Old War Horse." Nonetheless, considerable controversy swirls around Longstreet. This book does a solid job on outlining the controversy and Longstreet's record. One theme in the South after the Civil War was the "Lost Cause" thesis. Here, Longstreet was a central element. The author, Jeffry Wert, says (page 14): "A significant. . .victim of th General James Longstreet was one of the major corps commanders in the Confederate Army. At one point, General Robert E. Lee referred to Longstreet as his "Old War Horse." Nonetheless, considerable controversy swirls around Longstreet. This book does a solid job on outlining the controversy and Longstreet's record. One theme in the South after the Civil War was the "Lost Cause" thesis. Here, Longstreet was a central element. The author, Jeffry Wert, says (page 14): "A significant. . .victim of the 'Lost Cause' interpretation of the conflict was James Longstreet. A crucial element of the myth was that the Confederacy nearly attained victory except for the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville and the defeat of Robert E. Lee's army at Gettysburg two months later. . . . The burden for Gettysburg fell on Longstreet. . . ." This book lays out a nicely rendered biography of Longstreet. A series of helpful maps provides context throughout the work. The book takes a standard approach and provides detail on Longstreet's early life and career (his action in the Mexican War and his friendhip with Ulysses Grant). The work chronicles his rise in the Confederate Army after war broke out. He went from commander of a small unit at First Manassas to division commander to corps commander in a fairly short period of time, matching Stonewall Jackson's rise in responsibility. Both had poor moments in the Peninsula Campaign; by the end of the Seven Days, Longstreet had grown considerably. By Second Manassas, Jackson and Longstreet were the two corps commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia and both performed well. By that time, certain aspects of Longstreet's style became clear. At Second Manassas, he delayed attack until the situation was to his liking. Just slow? Or calculated to gain maximum effect against the Union forces under General John Pope? Then Antietam, where Longstreet gained the nom de guerre of "My Old War Horse" from Lee. Fredericksburg? The classic Longstreet-favored approach. Take a position and let the Yankees attack and lose large numbers of troops. Longstreet was convinced that the Confederacy could not fight long odds battles with fewer men than in the Union army. He missed Chancellorsville, while on a mission on the Peninsula. Then Gettysburg. Was he petulant and someone who undermined the Confederate effort and chances of victory? Or was he clear eyed, seeing the impending defeat? Wirt addresses this issue in a sensitive manner. Later, we see Longstreet at his worst (feuding with Braxton Bragg and performing badly against the pathetic Ambrose Burnside at Knoxville) and at his best (his tour de force rolling up Winfield Scott Hancock's line at the Wilderness). With respect to the latter, as he was planning yet another movement against the Union army, he was shot by other Confederate troops. After a lengthy convalescence, he rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg, fought with Lee until the end of the Civil War. Then, he became a Republican (alienating many southerners), criticized Lee while defending his own record (heresy to the south), and overall had a checkered career. Nonetheless, this book provides useful context for evaluating Longstreet. One fair conclusion is that he was one of the best corps commanders on either side (there were a lot of bad ones and some very good ones)--but one who also was far from perfect (again, note his performance under Braxton Bragg). A nice book for those wanting to know more about "The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier" (the book's subtitle).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    General James Longstreet I actually knew very little about as history is not always kind to the survivors. General James Longstreet was without a doubt one of the most capable Corp Commanders who has ever served in any Army and after reading this book I think you will agree. While many in history have judged him harshly as they feel that he abandoned the South after the war in reality he simply did what had always done which was to be true to his convictions. We think of the Gallantry of Lee the General James Longstreet I actually knew very little about as history is not always kind to the survivors. General James Longstreet was without a doubt one of the most capable Corp Commanders who has ever served in any Army and after reading this book I think you will agree. While many in history have judged him harshly as they feel that he abandoned the South after the war in reality he simply did what had always done which was to be true to his convictions. We think of the Gallantry of Lee the boldness of Stone Wall Jackson but reading this book you learn that Longstreet was from beginning to end Lee's Old War horse and his most trusted commander through out the war. Longstreet after the war was still a commander as he put war behind him and put in support for his old and trusted friend from his days at West Point Ulysis S. Grant. Sadly is often the case Longstreet was a warrior and leader of men but he was not a politician and suffered because of it. This autobiography does an absolutely excellent job of addressing the many misconstrued storys of Longstreet and shows very clearly that had his advice been heeded at Gettysburg the landscape of the country may look very different today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gilda Felt

    After reading this book I can understand why Longstreet’s reputation is so uneven, and why he was so controversial. He won some battle, lost some, which can be said of any general. But it appeared that often it was more than bad luck, or bad odds, that caused the lost. Though it can’t be proven, his often divisive behavior has been blamed on his own vanity, or sense of aggrievement. After the war, his being willing to work with the North further damaged his reputation, at least with Southerners. After reading this book I can understand why Longstreet’s reputation is so uneven, and why he was so controversial. He won some battle, lost some, which can be said of any general. But it appeared that often it was more than bad luck, or bad odds, that caused the lost. Though it can’t be proven, his often divisive behavior has been blamed on his own vanity, or sense of aggrievement. After the war, his being willing to work with the North further damaged his reputation, at least with Southerners. But that very thing went a long way to raising his estimation in my eyes. It’s also why I’m inclined to think that others’ estimation of his so-called bad behavior during the war may have been sour grapes. Though mostly covering the years of the Civil War, there is enough in the book to give a well-rounded picture of who Longstreet was, what drove him, and what made him the successful general that he was.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    A very entertaining and readable biography about a deeply complicated man. Tactical genius without a doubt, but definitely got in his own way more than once. I'm a little disappointed the book largely glossed over his post war life, but the attention to detail about his campaign strategies and philosophies is almost a quintessential "how to" in leadership. Quite possibly one of my favorite Civil War books to date. A very entertaining and readable biography about a deeply complicated man. Tactical genius without a doubt, but definitely got in his own way more than once. I'm a little disappointed the book largely glossed over his post war life, but the attention to detail about his campaign strategies and philosophies is almost a quintessential "how to" in leadership. Quite possibly one of my favorite Civil War books to date.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darrell Woods

    Longstreet - Lee's Old Warhorse. More important though less popular than Jackson, and there for all of the major battles in the East except Chancellorsville.... Wert's text focuses on the fighting. We get a quick whisk through the family background and the many children, West Point and the Mexican War...and then so fast, it begins. First Corps was a fearsome weapon and there is no doubt Longstreet was a superb battlefield tactician. The repeated rivalries for promotion and the obvious damaging i Longstreet - Lee's Old Warhorse. More important though less popular than Jackson, and there for all of the major battles in the East except Chancellorsville.... Wert's text focuses on the fighting. We get a quick whisk through the family background and the many children, West Point and the Mexican War...and then so fast, it begins. First Corps was a fearsome weapon and there is no doubt Longstreet was a superb battlefield tactician. The repeated rivalries for promotion and the obvious damaging impact these had on performance is startling. When a Corps has 30,000 men, the mistakes due to lack of clarity in the orders and insufficient face to face planning meetings seems bizarre. Longstreet was a colossus under Lee - the failed campaign in Tennessee could be as much about Bragg and the ruinous mutiny but at Lookout Mountain and Knoxville, the General seems disengaged. Of course the pivotal moment is July 2 at Gettysburg. Wert seems inclined to agree with Longstreet that the Union position was too strong, but even so it is the near run thing on the 2nd that decides matters. The scene on the 3rd when Longstreet can only nod to Pickett and not bring himself to issue the order to advance is heart-breaking. The timely arrival at the Wilderness showed what his veterans could still do, and what greater victory might have been achieved without another friendly fire calamity. The post war political piece seems non-essential - Grant was his best friend after all. I would have liked a bit more analysis - it is safe to assume that all readers know the main historical narrative, so greater expansion of Longstreet's desire for the Confederacy to fight on the defensive to manage their limited manpower and not to get sucked into a war of attrition would have been welcome. By the end though, recognising a General who adapted his tactics as conditions and even more importantly the nature of warfare quickly developed should ensure that Longstreet stands with Lee and Jackson as one of the great Commanders.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gerry

    The last century’s Confederate mythology held General Longstreet responsible for losing the battle of Gettysburg and, somehow, with it the war. This was mainly because, after the war, he turned Republican, Catholic, and dared to criticize the Saint (Lee) in his memoirs. In this book, author Wert examines Longstreet’s career and gives the reader a balanced account of the man’s career. Against his superlative actions in the battles of Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga and the Wilderness The last century’s Confederate mythology held General Longstreet responsible for losing the battle of Gettysburg and, somehow, with it the war. This was mainly because, after the war, he turned Republican, Catholic, and dared to criticize the Saint (Lee) in his memoirs. In this book, author Wert examines Longstreet’s career and gives the reader a balanced account of the man’s career. Against his superlative actions in the battles of Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga and the Wilderness, there are less than splendid performances at Seven Pines, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. Gettysburg gets three chapters in which Longstreet doesn’t get blamed for the loss, but doesn’t get high marks either. Finally, Wert tells us, “Longstreet…was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side.” Here I would wish for some more detail about his administration; I wonder how he would compare to Federal General George H. Thomas’ XIV Corps. How he marshalled his command at Fredericksburg and Chickamauga were good presentations of how those battles were won. Along with the novel The Killer Angels this goes far to “redeeming” General Longstreet, who deserves it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    William

    This book gives an excellent account of Longstreet's military career and effectively refutes the Lost Cause myth that had been built up about Longstreet for over 100 years prior to the book's publication. I would have liked to see more about Longstreet's personality, but I understand that this is limited by the lack of surviving letters, the absence of a diary, and the fact that his own memoirs focus almost entirely on the technicalities and history of his Civil War campaigns. This is a great bo This book gives an excellent account of Longstreet's military career and effectively refutes the Lost Cause myth that had been built up about Longstreet for over 100 years prior to the book's publication. I would have liked to see more about Longstreet's personality, but I understand that this is limited by the lack of surviving letters, the absence of a diary, and the fact that his own memoirs focus almost entirely on the technicalities and history of his Civil War campaigns. This is a great book on Longstreet and about the war in general, written in an academic style by a historian who specializes in this field. Unlike biographers who see their subjects one-dimensionally, Wert writes very even-handedly. He shows Longstreet to be a brilliant strategist and defends him against those who unfairly blamed him for losing the war. But he also criticizes Longstreet for his blunders at Seven Pines and in the Knoxville Campaign, as well as for what he saw as unfair criticisms of fellow commanders. His approach is very sensible and evidence-driven. A great book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    Jeffry D. Wert's book on General James Longstreet answered many questions I had about Longstreet's character, personality, leadership style, and decision making ability. As a student of the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863, I enjoy reading and studying about the various officers from the North and South who were involved as it sheds light regarding the hundreds of decisions that were made. An interesting aspect of the American Civil War are the relationships that many Union and Confederate officers ha Jeffry D. Wert's book on General James Longstreet answered many questions I had about Longstreet's character, personality, leadership style, and decision making ability. As a student of the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863, I enjoy reading and studying about the various officers from the North and South who were involved as it sheds light regarding the hundreds of decisions that were made. An interesting aspect of the American Civil War are the relationships that many Union and Confederate officers had with each other due to their time at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; fighting alongside each other during the Mexican War; and service in the U.S. Army prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. Wert describes the friendship that Longstreet had with Union General and later President Ulysses S. Grant. This relationship went through several phases: academy classmates, service in the old Army, foes fighting one another in a war, reconciliation, and later when President Grant appointed Longstreet to more than one political position. I believe that Wert has written James Longstreet's biography from an objective standpoint. Far too many authors either vilify or deify the subject of their work; however, Wert has not done that. He presents the good, the bad, and the ugly of Longstreet, his strengths and weaknesses. Wert also does a great job weaving the Civil War narrative against Longstreet's postwar writings which many times did not match actual events. Furthermore, Wert details the tremendous hatred including death threats, that were hurled at Longstreet after the Civil War when he encouraged national unification and when he changed political affiliations from the Democrat party to the Republican party. This is a good read for students of the Civil War, military history, and leadership.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom Lane

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book! Gen Longstreet was an amazing man who continued in public service long after the war. It's a shame some southerners view him as a traitor, and made him a scapegoat for losing the war. Some also see him somehow less a general than he actually was...likely because Gen Lee was to popular. President Grant, whom I respect immensely, recognized the worth of Mr. Longstreet and as he held several federal offices, beginning in the Grant administration. Right or wrong, my pers Thoroughly enjoyed the book! Gen Longstreet was an amazing man who continued in public service long after the war. It's a shame some southerners view him as a traitor, and made him a scapegoat for losing the war. Some also see him somehow less a general than he actually was...likely because Gen Lee was to popular. President Grant, whom I respect immensely, recognized the worth of Mr. Longstreet and as he held several federal offices, beginning in the Grant administration. Right or wrong, my perspective on the war is that while many soldiers may have fought because they had no choice, several (likely the majority) fought to preserve a way of life that included slavery, and I could never agree with that. It was different times to be sure! But at the end of the day, southern generals were the losers, especially Gen Lee, and they should never be venerated, certainly never above northern generals, that fought to abolish slavery...most notably Gen Grant. I'm not naive, and I've read extensively on the war (200+ books), I know that slavery wasn't the only reason the war was fought. I'm not making a moral or ethical judgement of anyone, other than the southern Army lost and Lee was in command. To my knowledge he never blamed Gen Longstreet for the loss and neither should anyone else. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War and the men that fought in it. I also recommend it to anyone that thinks they already know everything about Gen. Longstreet.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Bird

    While this is an adequate example of the military-history-as-sportswriting genre, making calls on controversial episodes, it does not really engage with the history of the controversy. To do that would require sensitivity to the reasons why the Civil War was fought, but that sensitivity is as absent as “slavery” from the index of this book. Wert mentions the Lost Cause frame, but doesn’t consider how it might affect the sources he uses. Narrative of the Gettysburg campaign, footnoted or not, tha While this is an adequate example of the military-history-as-sportswriting genre, making calls on controversial episodes, it does not really engage with the history of the controversy. To do that would require sensitivity to the reasons why the Civil War was fought, but that sensitivity is as absent as “slavery” from the index of this book. Wert mentions the Lost Cause frame, but doesn’t consider how it might affect the sources he uses. Narrative of the Gettysburg campaign, footnoted or not, that claims that Pennsylvanians were well treated by the Confederate army is myth; history records that Pennsylvanians of African descent were abducted for sale as slaves.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a well-balanced presentation of Longstreet's Civil War service, with emphasis on the actions Longstreet took and motivations behind them. Longstreet was vilified after the war as a scapegoat for the downfall of the Confederate Army, particularly after Gettysburg, and he spent his later years defending himself and his actions, sometimes to the point of embellishment and/or omission of relevant facts. The author does a good job presenting a fair and seemingly accurate depiction of actual e This is a well-balanced presentation of Longstreet's Civil War service, with emphasis on the actions Longstreet took and motivations behind them. Longstreet was vilified after the war as a scapegoat for the downfall of the Confederate Army, particularly after Gettysburg, and he spent his later years defending himself and his actions, sometimes to the point of embellishment and/or omission of relevant facts. The author does a good job presenting a fair and seemingly accurate depiction of actual events and intentions, based on his extensive research. I recommend this for anyone interested in one of the lesser known but vitally important leaders of the war.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott Lord

    Fascinating history of a lesser remembered Confederate General I was prompted to read this after an op ed piece by Andrew Comey. He was discussing why there were no prominent statues for General Longstreet. He was Robert E Lee’s most trusted General and very successful. The book doesn’t spend as much time on Longstreet after the war where he did become a Republican in the south and drew the ire of many southerners. The author was very good a pointing out the good and the bad about Longstreet, Lee Fascinating history of a lesser remembered Confederate General I was prompted to read this after an op ed piece by Andrew Comey. He was discussing why there were no prominent statues for General Longstreet. He was Robert E Lee’s most trusted General and very successful. The book doesn’t spend as much time on Longstreet after the war where he did become a Republican in the south and drew the ire of many southerners. The author was very good a pointing out the good and the bad about Longstreet, Lee and Jackson which I have found rare in reading history. Excellent book

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kurtz

    Well-written bio that examines Longstreet's personal life, generalship, and how he is/was viewed by others. This isn't a lovefest like a lot of biographies. The author both praises and criticizes his subject, depending on the situation. He also discusses the Confederate myth, and how Longstreet plays into that myth, and why he was such a threat to it after the war. His research is backed up by plentiful footnotes. One comes away with a full portrait of a human being, warts and beauty marks both. Well-written bio that examines Longstreet's personal life, generalship, and how he is/was viewed by others. This isn't a lovefest like a lot of biographies. The author both praises and criticizes his subject, depending on the situation. He also discusses the Confederate myth, and how Longstreet plays into that myth, and why he was such a threat to it after the war. His research is backed up by plentiful footnotes. One comes away with a full portrait of a human being, warts and beauty marks both. Recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A more comprehensive biography of Longstreet than Piston's Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant, this is a very detailed account of Longstreet's army career, but Longstreet's post-bellum career (more interesting to me) is summed up in one chapter. Piston is better on the latter half of Longstreet's career, but this is a good basic account of his career as a soldier. Longstreet himself comes across as often a brilliant general, but also querulous, and occasionally capable of shocking mistakes and misjudgme A more comprehensive biography of Longstreet than Piston's Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant, this is a very detailed account of Longstreet's army career, but Longstreet's post-bellum career (more interesting to me) is summed up in one chapter. Piston is better on the latter half of Longstreet's career, but this is a good basic account of his career as a soldier. Longstreet himself comes across as often a brilliant general, but also querulous, and occasionally capable of shocking mistakes and misjudgments of men.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Mertens

    It took me a little while and a couple of attempts to finish this book. It provides a good overview of the life of James Longstreet and the nature of his role in the Civil War. Longstreet was an interesting person in the confederate army. I enjoyed the parts of the book portraying his after war life. I learned from this book but found it dry at times to read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve Schinke

    While a decent chronicle of the life of Longstreet, the underlying exploration of the politics in the confederate army make it a worthwhile read. It has motivated me to delve deeper into some of the other leaders of the Confederacy. My prior readings were limited to Lee, Jackson, and Johnston. From here I will explore Davis, Stuart, Bragg and others that pique my interest.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim Armstrong

    Highly enjoyed this biography of General Longstreet. The focus was heavily on his life during the Civil War, but this was the stayed aim of the author and he delivered marvellously. Some of the aspects of Longstreet's post war life felt rushed (only one chapter devoted) but otherwise I enjoyed this work and learned a lot from it. Highly enjoyed this biography of General Longstreet. The focus was heavily on his life during the Civil War, but this was the stayed aim of the author and he delivered marvellously. Some of the aspects of Longstreet's post war life felt rushed (only one chapter devoted) but otherwise I enjoyed this work and learned a lot from it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    mindbringer

    Finally, Justice and Fairness For The Second Greatest General Of The War! Thoroughly researched fair work on Longstreet. Reads well like a novel. I will be reading more works by Mr. Wert!

  21. 4 out of 5

    kevin stone

    Honest History This was a good, in depth look at General Longstreet's career and personal life. The author gives us an unvarnished account of the controversies, with a fair glimpse at both sides. I believe he has handed us an honest account of the man. I enjoyed the read her much. Honest History This was a good, in depth look at General Longstreet's career and personal life. The author gives us an unvarnished account of the controversies, with a fair glimpse at both sides. I believe he has handed us an honest account of the man. I enjoyed the read her much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    I wanted more information on the Civil War in general and Longstreet, who was famously a 'scalawag' after the war, in particular. I got those things, and I shouldn't be upset that the writing was dry or polemical in uninteresting ways. I suppose. I wanted more information on the Civil War in general and Longstreet, who was famously a 'scalawag' after the war, in particular. I got those things, and I shouldn't be upset that the writing was dry or polemical in uninteresting ways. I suppose.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Oldfield

    Well done but I was hoping it was going to focus a lot more on the post war years since that is where a lot of the lost cause people made him responsible for various losses.

  24. 5 out of 5

    William Peynsaert

    Thorough, fair. Crisp writing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    General James Longstreet I actually knew very little about as history is not always kind to the survivors. General James Longstreet was without a doubt one of the most capable Corp Commanders who has ever served in any Army and after reading this book I think you will agree.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leah K

    General James Longstreet: the Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier by Jeffry Wert ★ ★ ★ ½ The Civil War era has always interested me. And I am always amazed on how much there is to learn about the war even after the many books I’ve read on it and the college courses I attended. This book just adds to the details, and quite well. This book on General James Longstreet (a Confederate General that was Lee’s right-hand man and became quite the scapegoat after the Confederates lost) is great addit General James Longstreet: the Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier by Jeffry Wert ★ ★ ★ ½ The Civil War era has always interested me. And I am always amazed on how much there is to learn about the war even after the many books I’ve read on it and the college courses I attended. This book just adds to the details, and quite well. This book on General James Longstreet (a Confederate General that was Lee’s right-hand man and became quite the scapegoat after the Confederates lost) is great addition to the history of the Civil War. The author delves into the man and his time in remarkable detail. It is obvious the Wert did a lot of research. He is fair and just in his picture of Longstreet and has plenty of accurate information, all written an interesting format that kept my attention. One must pay attention when reading this book. The author goes into quite the fine points when it comes to the battles that Longstreet was a part of. This is good, but if you’re like me and your mind wanders a bit, you’ll start getting confused (I went through a lot of “wait, so who was where and who won what?!”) if the attention isn’t fully there…this also goes for the large amount of names mentioned throughout the battle scenes. Luckily, the author does post maps of the battles for some extra reference for the easily confused (aka ME). I wish that the author would have focused on Longstreet more after her service in the military. I felt like even though Longstreet lived several decades after the end of the war and he dealt with a lot of backlash, there was little information and it was quickly bundled into the end. A good book if you’re into the time period.

  27. 4 out of 5

    George

    If you have any serious interest in the Civil War, this is an outstanding book of one of the most important military figures on the entire war. In the Southern iconography of the Civil War, Longstreet is something of a Fallen Angel, sitting on the left hand of the Father, Lee, with the martyred Jackson on his right. The revered Lee must remain beyond reproach, so many Southern voices choose to blame Longstreet for the loss at Gettysburg, his unhappiness with Lee's battleplan and the failure of t If you have any serious interest in the Civil War, this is an outstanding book of one of the most important military figures on the entire war. In the Southern iconography of the Civil War, Longstreet is something of a Fallen Angel, sitting on the left hand of the Father, Lee, with the martyred Jackson on his right. The revered Lee must remain beyond reproach, so many Southern voices choose to blame Longstreet for the loss at Gettysburg, his unhappiness with Lee's battleplan and the failure of the attacks on the Union flank on the second day. For these people, had Jackson survived Chancellorsville, he would have led a triumphant charge, taken Little Round Top, unhinged the Union position and Pickett's Charge from which the Army of Virgina never recovered, which Longstreet vehemently opposed, would never have taken place, and the South would have won the battle and the war. Since Lee must remain blameless, Longstreet will do nicely, especially as he became a Republican during the Reconstruction period, to great dismay. Of course, the also martyred Stuart, who allowed the Southern army to wander blindly into Gettysburg, and Heth, who heavily engaged the Union cavalry against orders on the first day, deserve a far greater share of the blame. But Lee referred to him as his "Old War Horse" and not without reason, as he was certainly the most reliable commanding officer throughout the war.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Jeffry Wert provides a look at one of the fallen heroes of the confederacy in General James Longstreet. Longstreet has been accused of being the main reason for the Confederacy defeat at Gettysburg by not attacking early enough and of splintering the unity of the western army with his actions at Knoxville. Wert addresses all of these attacks in an effort to recast them towards their accusers. While at the end of the day there are many good points in this book it is not convincing enough to absol Jeffry Wert provides a look at one of the fallen heroes of the confederacy in General James Longstreet. Longstreet has been accused of being the main reason for the Confederacy defeat at Gettysburg by not attacking early enough and of splintering the unity of the western army with his actions at Knoxville. Wert addresses all of these attacks in an effort to recast them towards their accusers. While at the end of the day there are many good points in this book it is not convincing enough to absolve Longstreet of his share of the blame. Recent historiography is becoming more critical of Lee and his vagueness of command but at the end of the day Longstreet did not attack and was as vague as Lee in his orders. It is true that Longstreet had tactical ability and has been lost in history despite being one of the Lee's most trusted advisors after Stonewall Jackson. This book is an excellent addition to the historiography of the civil war and while maybe not clearing Longstreet's name it does provide food for thought regarding his placement in history and his military ability. This is a book that spends most of the time on the military career and little on the personal so for those looking to learn more about the man you are probably better served elsewhere. At the end of the day give it a chance and evaluate with other sources for a good picture of what the Army of Northern Virginia was like.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard Gullickson

    An excellent biography of General James Longstreet, Gen Lee's "old war horse" and commander of the First Corps. Longstreet was known as a superb tactician and battlefield commander who preferred a conservative defensive battle approach. Longstreet preferred to find and prepare defendable positions and let the Union forces come to him. His boss, Gen Lee, preferred the bold offensive approach, relying upon the superior morale and fighting ability of Southern soldiers to overcome their numerical di An excellent biography of General James Longstreet, Gen Lee's "old war horse" and commander of the First Corps. Longstreet was known as a superb tactician and battlefield commander who preferred a conservative defensive battle approach. Longstreet preferred to find and prepare defendable positions and let the Union forces come to him. His boss, Gen Lee, preferred the bold offensive approach, relying upon the superior morale and fighting ability of Southern soldiers to overcome their numerical disadvantage. This led to the debacle at Gettysburg which many see as the major turning point in the Civil War with Longstreet at first resisting the disastrous "Pickett's Charge" but finally complying with Gen Lee's order. This is a well written and informative book which portrays Longstreet realistically, showing his battlefield failures as well as his successes. The theme of the book is counteracting the popular post civil war notion that Longstreet was to blame for the Southern failure. To put Longstreets life and accomplishment in perspective, one should first read Michael Shaara's outstanding civil war novel, the Killer Angels.

  30. 5 out of 5

    PMB

    i was hoping for a little more post-War info but overall a thorough and engaging bio. the events leading up to gettysburg are crucial when determining longstreet's legacy and wert highlights specific differences the general had with lee during that fateful summer of 1863. this isn’t exactly new information but the book goes a long way to clear up some commonly held misconceptions about the man and presents a solid examination of longstreet's objections to a northern invasion, and his performance i was hoping for a little more post-War info but overall a thorough and engaging bio. the events leading up to gettysburg are crucial when determining longstreet's legacy and wert highlights specific differences the general had with lee during that fateful summer of 1863. this isn’t exactly new information but the book goes a long way to clear up some commonly held misconceptions about the man and presents a solid examination of longstreet's objections to a northern invasion, and his performance at gettysburg. wert’s description of chickamauga really painted the picture of battle. very well paced. this really is a military bio. not a lot of personal stuff is revealed. whenever i read about these Civil War heroes i'm struck by how many of them were classmates, friends, and relatives beforehand. grant and longstreet were great friends at west point and were close after the War ended (just one of the reasons many southerners felt betrayed by Old Pete).

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