Customer Reviews


8 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing, humanizing narrative of the legendary general.
Professor Thomas' narrative provides a revealing insight into the life of this legendary commander. He is presented as human; cutting through the mythological jargon that prompts superhuman epics to be spread via word-of-mouth or text. Thomas' Robert E. Lee is believable, both as family man and commander of Confederate troops. The reader can now understand Lee's...
Published on 19 Jan 1998

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A readable study but which fails to do full justice to Lee
In many ways this is a well-written life of Lee, which avoids the worst excesses of both idolatry and revisionism. Greater emphasis is accorded to the pre-Civil War years: the treatment of the War's military side, and of Lee's generalship, is at times perfunctory. The author offers some shrewd insights into Lee's character but at times creates distortions of his own, eg...
Published on 30 Jan 2002 by john.winterton@defra.gsi.gov.uk


Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A readable study but which fails to do full justice to Lee, 30 Jan 2002
This review is from: Robert E.Lee: A Biography (Paperback)
In many ways this is a well-written life of Lee, which avoids the worst excesses of both idolatry and revisionism. Greater emphasis is accorded to the pre-Civil War years: the treatment of the War's military side, and of Lee's generalship, is at times perfunctory. The author offers some shrewd insights into Lee's character but at times creates distortions of his own, eg by suggesting that "in a very real sense" Lee sided with Virginia to avoid conflict with his wife and family! There is also an element of distortion through "presentism", ie judging Lee's character, motives and actions by late 20th century liberal standards rather than in the context of his own time, circumstances and background. Although at the end of the book Thomas accepts that Lee was a Hero "with a capital H", the rather anti-heroic feel of his biography sometimes appears at variance with this assessment. The definitive study of Lee remains Freeman's great four-volume work, which, while clearly admiring, is by no means uncritical. Apart from other factors, considerations of space mean that Thomas cannot compete with Freeman's level of detail. With these caveats Thomas' own account deserves to be read as a worthwhile introductory study of a very great man and General.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but overly speculative, 27 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Because I spent three summers at Arlington House as a National Park Service ranger, I've read a number of books about Robert E. Lee and his family, including Freeman's four volumes twice. Thomas's biography is well written and was especially helpful to me in sorting out aspects of Lee's pre-Civil War career that hadn't made sense to me before. Thomas' treatment of Lee's feckless father, Light Horse Harry, hits close to the mark, and I'm ready to accept Mrs. Lee as more small-minded than I would have credited ten years ago. Thomas is perhaps a bit tough on Lee's father-in-law, G.W.P. Custis, and I would have liked the author to spend more time with Lee's mother-in-law, Mary Fitzhugh Custis, whose influence on Lee and his family was enormous.
Thomas' attempt to read double-entendres into Lee's early pleasantries with younger women is at best strained and at worse anachronistic. Thomas also has an imperfect understanding of evangelical religion in the nineteenth century and seems to think if the low-church Episcopalian Lee didn't discuss a conversion experience, then his confirmation in the church at age 46 was little more than a formality "to support his daughters' conviction" and "to honor his mother-in-law's piety." Thomas' attempt to substitute "God" for "true gentleman" in one of Lee's ruminations about ethics and read into it an "intriguing theological insight" is downright silly. (p. 397)
One serious mistake needs to be corrected: the sensational charge that in June 1862, Lee was so preoccupied with his duties that he forgot his grandson had died and wrote to the boy's mother asking her to "kiss [him] for me." Thomas might have reflected on the improbability of this story and double-checked the primary sources. Actually, the boy died in July. It is a notorious example of information both true and sensational-but with the sensational untrue and the true not sensational.
Lee was not, of course, the myth that he started to become by the end of the Civil War, and Thomas is correct to emphasize Lee as a tragic hero. Nevertheless, Freeman's Lee, the uncomplicated man of duty is closer to the truth than Thomas' paradox striving "to be independent, to be free."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing, humanizing narrative of the legendary general., 19 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Robert E.Lee: A Biography (Paperback)
Professor Thomas' narrative provides a revealing insight into the life of this legendary commander. He is presented as human; cutting through the mythological jargon that prompts superhuman epics to be spread via word-of-mouth or text. Thomas' Robert E. Lee is believable, both as family man and commander of Confederate troops. The reader can now understand Lee's motivation, his love of Virginia, and his ability to lead men, seriously outnumbered, into battle. This is a must-read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid biography of Lee the man, short on military history, 26 Nov 1997
By A Customer
Thomas has given us a post-revisionist portrait of Lee that addresses the general as a human being much better than it presents him as a brilliant military strategist. His complicated relationship with his rakish father, his sainted mother, his demanding wife, and his children are all central foci of the book; his relationships with those outside his family get relatively short shrift. It is amazing how little of this book deals with the actual history of Lee's Civil War battles; more attention seems to be given to his involvement in the Mexican War. Indeed, the book seems to give disproportionate attention to his life prior to the Civil War, with relatively lesser attention to what happened after he became commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia. Since the latter period is that in which he made his mark on history, this focus is rather disappointing. But Thomas does a relatively able job of dispelling the image of Lee as "the marble man," and for that, Civil War afficionados owe him a debt of gratitude.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee as flesh and blood, 28 Aug 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Robert E.Lee: A Biography (Paperback)
Emory Thomas is ambitious but ultimately correct in proclaiming his compelling Lee biography a post-revisionist portrait. He attempts (with admirable success) to balance his respect for Lee's character and ability (without Douglas Freeman's blatant worship and apocryphal stories) with honest accounts of his faults and contradictions (minus the carping of Connelly's 'The Marble Man' and Nolan's 'Lee Considered'). In the process, Thomas has captured as much as any writer is able the humanness of Lee. I was struck throughout the book by events and words that mirror my own aspirations and failures. I think the highest praise I can offer Thomas's book is that this avid Lee fan and Civil War buff felt like he had met Robert E. Lee for the first time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Human portrait, 11 April 2013
By 
J. N. Lawson "J.N. Lawson" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I haven't read a biography of Lee for 30 years, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I embarked on this bit of historiography. It is easy to either vilify or sanctify Lee. I feel this biography avoids both poles. What emerges is the portrait of a man, governed by birth, context and circumstances, who tried to make the most of what life offered him--and did (including with the Army of Northern Virginia--but much more than that). It's a worthwhile read for anyone interested in this fraught period of American history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Robert e lee, 2 Mar 2013
Great read for someone who is intersected in the war and its main characters. It's just a pity the man never penned his memoirs
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, pointless laundry list of Lee's life, 30 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This is an example of Professional Historians lamely trying to wrest popular readership back from amateur historians. You could almost hear this historian saying "I can write for the public too." Author tries to develop a simplistic theme that accounts for Lee's behavior - peters out after a time. At one point he lists, literally, a timeline over 3 pages and ends with (Duh) "Lee became a legend." I threw this book away after I read it - I hope there's better Lee biographies out there - I got no feeling for the person from this one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Robert E.Lee: A Biography
Robert E.Lee: A Biography by Emory M Thomas (Paperback - 17 Sep 1997)
13.75
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews