Review: A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE by John Esten Cooke

Some participants do not have blogs of their own, but we like to give them an opportunity to express their opinions about the books they read for the reading challenges.

Reva read A Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee by John Esten Cooke for the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge 2011.  Here is her review.

I was fascinated with the Lee family history which begins near the beginning of British history. Lee forbears fought and won again and again over the generations. Kings showed their gratitude with land grants, estates, titles, the Order of the Garter, and every kind of treasure olden times had to offer. Robert E. Lee inherited his talent for battle strategy and leadership from a long line of heroes.

Robert, himself, was a simple man with none of the hauteur officers of the day exhibited. He walked among the men and never failed to speak kindly to the lowliest man, always taking responsibility for failure in battle. He was a man of great faith in God. He never lost the war. When replacements and food were withheld again and again from his army, his staff officers convinced Lee to give up. There was nothing in the countryside to forage. His soldiers had marched throughout many states without shoes, often in the rain and mud, sometimes not eating for weeks. Still, he refused to surrender until General Grant agreed to very generous terms that allowed his men to go home immediately in peace, retaining a horse and sometimes, even a weapon for hunting.

After the war, Lee had nothing left. His estate was confiscated and now is known as Arlington National Cemetary. Still, he received letters of want from old soldiers and widows daily. He was often seen giving money to people who waylaid him as he left church. He collapsed after church one Sunday and died 2 weeks later of a “brain fever”. Many said he died of a broken heart.

The last part of the book contained many eulogies from the different states and regions. The words were beautiful and I realized how America has lost her gift for oratory. Would that our presidential candidates could express themselves this well. Expressing emotion, truth and heart is just as important as the cold, hard facts.

**Attention participants: Remember to email us a link to your reviews, and we’ll post them here so we can see what everyone is reading!**

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