In Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, Michael Korda, the New York Times bestselling biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and T. E. Lawrence, has written the first major biography of Lee in nearly twenty years, bringing to life America's greatest and most iconic hero.Read more...
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In Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, Michael Korda, the New York Times bestselling biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and T. E. Lawrence, has written the first major biography of Lee in nearly twenty years, bringing to life America's greatest and most iconic hero. Korda paints a vivid and admiring portrait of Lee as a general and a devoted family man who, though he disliked slavery and was not in favor of secession, turned down command of the Union army in 1861 because he could not "draw his sword" against his own children, his neighbors, and his beloved Virginia. He was surely America's preeminent military leader, as calm, dignified, and commanding a presence in defeat as he was in victory. Lee's reputation has only grown in the 150 years since the Civil War, and Korda covers in groundbreaking detail all of Lee's battles and traces the making of a great man's undeniable reputation on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, positioning him finally as the symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern Cause.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-28
- Reviewer: Staff
In this exhaustive study, former Simon & Schuster editor-in-chief Korda (Ulysses S. Grant) examines the life of Robert E. Lee from start to finish, illuminating not just the man, but his extended family and the society which produced him. While Korda's treatment verges on hero worship, he explores Lee's qualities and contradictions thoroughly, approaching him first and foremost as a state patriot, loyal to Virginia before any other cause. He further presents Lee as a military genius, a brilliant engineer (Lee re-channeled the Mississippi River near St. Louis), a spiritual descendant of George Washington, an embodiment of Napoleonic tactics, and a living legend in his own time. History has supported most of these claims; Korda backs up the rest with an accessible and authoritative account of Lee's career. Naturally, while Lee's schooling and early service are covered, the bulk of this book is reserved for the events of the Civil War. The size of this tome is intimidating but fitting, given its subject: Lee, the famed American general whose legend still looms long after the end of the Civil War. If not the gold standard for Lee biographies, this is a superbly engaging offering. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (May)
The definitive biography of General Lee
From the Duke boys’ car named the General Lee on the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show to his appearance on a U.S. postage stamp, Robert E. Lee has come to “embody and glorify a defeated cause,” Michael Korda asserts in a monumental new biography, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.
Korda, a former publishing executive and author of many books, including a popular biography of U.S. Grant, exhaustively explores Lee’s life and times, probing the Southern general’s personality, his political and religious views, and the brilliant military strategies that catapulted him into the position of commander of the Confederate armies. The book traces Lee’s life from his relationship with his father, the famous light cavalry leader, Light Horse Harry Lee, to his college days at West Point—where he graduated as one of the top three in his class. When the Civil War began, his early battles in the Virginia mountains showed Lee how difficult the coming war would be and how to put into practice the lessons he learned from studying Napoleon at West Point.
Accompanied by 30 maps of battles and dozens of illustrations, Korda’s deftly painted portrait depicts a man whose strength of conviction established him as a great leader just as it caused him to make painful decisions. When Virginia seceded, Lee resigned his commission as Colonel of the 1st Regt. Of Cavalry, painfully bringing to an end his 36-year career, because he “would not participate in any Union attack against the South.” Korda illustrates Lee’s complexity as a Southerner who disagreed with secession and disliked slavery, but would fight to defend his beloved state of Virginia.
Lee emerges from Korda’s biography as a “fallible human being whose strengths were courage, his sense of duty, his religious belief, his military genius, his constant search to do right, and his natural and instinctive courtesy.”