Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BookTuesday: Sherman

This week for BookTuesday, I have the next installment in Thomas Nelson’s The Generals series. It is Sherman: The Ruthless Victor by Agostino von Hassell and Ed Breslin. The series editor is Stephen Mansfield. Here’s the cover and Amazon link:

Sherman: The Ruthless Victor (The Generals)

General William Tecumseh Sherman has a mixed legacy, especially down here in the South. Allowing for the need to be direct and strong in war, General Sherman went above and beyond with his decision to incinerate Atlanta after it was captured and other choices to wreak destruction that was incidental to victory. Much of what I have previously read of Sherman has sought to either vilify or sanctify his legacy. The effort to spin, one way or the other, his legacy has tainted those readings when trying to understand the man himself.

This brief bio, though, did not disappoint in trying to explain Sherman and leave the reader to judge his decisions. It’s not the most exhaustive work on Sherman that you would find, at 192 pages it can’t be. Yet it peaks into Sherman’s childhood and opening efforts in adulthood.

Through it all, the authors, Von Hassell and Breslin, strive to present Sherman’s successes and failures. They seem to find many more failure than success, and not being a Sherman expert, I can’t tell if that’s bias or fact. What they paint is the portrait of a man who is never quite balanced. His childhood is rocky, his early marriage is rocky, his first careers are failures, his military career is a roller-coaster…

And then he heads out to both conquer and punish the Deep South as the war draws to a close. Not over slavery: Sherman, according to the authors, was actually pro-slavery. He was just pro-Union more and had the connections to rise in the Union Army quicker than the Confederate Army.

The book also addresses the post-war life of Sherman and how he lived out the fame he won during the War. It is, like other books in the series, a short introduction. It is slightly more in-depth than scanning a Facebook page, but not like reading deeply on a subject.

A further word here on faith: part of this series has been a look at the faith and religious beliefs of each general. That was an interesting light to shine on MacArthur and Pershing. There’s not much to shine that light on in Sherman, and the authors wisely do not attempt to manufacture the information.

General Sherman is quickly examined here. For a casual reader with some curiosity but not much time, it’s a good start.


Disclosure: Free book from Booksneeze, the Thomas Nelson Publishers Book Review Blogging Program. No influence asked, no preference given.

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