Fierce Patriot

Fierce Patriot

The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman

eBook - 2014
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William Tecumseh Sherman was more than just one of our greatest generals. Fierce Patriot is a bold, revisionist portrait of how this iconic and enigmatic figure exerted an outsized impact on the American landscape'and the American character. America's first "celebrity" general, William Tecumseh Sherman was a man of many faces. Some of them were exalted in the public eye. Others were known only to intimates'his family, friends and lovers, and the soldiers under his command. In this rich and layered portrait, Robert L. O'Connell captures the man in full for the first time. From his early exploits in Florida, to his role in California at the start of the Gold Rush, through his brilliant but tempestuous generalship during the Civil War, and to his postwar career as a key player in the building of the transcontinental railroad, Sherman was, as O'Connell puts it, the "human embodiment of Manifest Destiny." Here is Sherman the military strategist of genius, a master of logistics whose uncanny grasp of terrain and brilliant sense of timing always seemed to land him in the right place at the most opportune moments. O'Connell shows how Sherman's creation of an agile, improvisational fighting force'the Army of the West'helped turn the tide of the Civil War and laid the foundation for modern U.S. ground forces. Then there is "Uncle Billy," Sherman's public persona, a charismatic hero to his troops and quotable catnip to the newspaper writers of his day. After the Civil War, this Sherman took his talents out West, where he applied them to the new work of nation building: displacing Indians, exterminating bison, and constructing the transcontinental railroad. Here, too, is the private Sherman. He was born into one powerhouse family'his grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence'and married into another. His foster father, Thomas Ewing, was an influential politician and cabinet member who helped provide key opportunities for Sherman throughout his career. But Sherman's fraught relationship with Ewing, coupled with his appetite for women, parties, and the high life of the New York theater, certainly complicated his already turbulent marriage to his foster sister Ellen, a relationship O'Connell likens to a mix of "gunpowder and gasoline"'all together a family triangle that might have sprung from the pages of a Victorian novel. As he peels away the layers of the Sherman persona, O'Connell dispels a number of common misperceptions about his subject. He sheds new light on Sherman's relationship with Ulysses S. Grant, and also on his struggle against Nathan Bedford Forrest and the insurgency that was the other half of the Civil War along the Mississippi. Later he reveals Sherman's fabled march from Atlanta to the sea not as a campaign of unmitigated destruction, as it is often portrayed, but the careful execution of a necessary piece of strategy calculated to scare the South back into the Union. O'Connell's Sherman is no Attila, but a complicated soldier/statesman'perhaps the quintessential nineteenth-century American. Warrior, family man, reality star avant la lettre, William Tecumseh Sherman has finally found a biographer worthy of his protean gifts. A masterful character study whose myriad insights are leavened with its author's trademark wit, Fierce Patriot will stand as the essential book on Sherman for decades to come.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2014
ISBN: 9780679604693
0679604693
Branch Call Number: Overdrive eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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rbrick
Sep 22, 2014

An excellent biography on a truly amazing individual. Obviously an individual of amazing strengths and talents but also a person with deep flaws.

While eventually being one of the key reasons the union army was ultimately successful, Sherman failed to show any significant successes initially in business or militarily. Indeed after his first major command [which he was given despite his request that he never be so assigned] he suffered a mental breakdown and had to be relieved of command.

His views on race relations were archaic even for his times. He treated natives and people of colour in ways that were completely unacceptable and unnecessary. Yet he also was respectful towards members of those races and tended to have good relations with individuals with whom he dealt.

There seems no doubt that he had an unabiding love for his wife [who was also his step-sister with whom he lived from the age of 9] but their marriage consisted mainly of long periods of separation [although they did have 8 children].

I would strongly recommend the book.

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