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on 2 December 1997
Having read all of the previous biographies of General James Longstreet, I came to read this one with some preconceived ideas as to the character and accomplishments of James Longstreet. Though I was not surprised at what I read, Wert is to be commended for a job very well done. Although he comes to the conclusion that Longstreet was the best corps commander that Robert E. Lee commanded (Stonewall Jackson devotees notwithstanding), he paints Longstreet "warts and all." Many otherwise excellent biographies (see D.S. Freeman's R. E. Lee) fail this as the biographer sometimes comes too close to worship of their subject.

Wert's one failing is that he does not get close to Longstreet the man as he does Longstreet the General. Other Longstreet biographers have also been found wanting in this regard. They should be forgiven this as, sadly, many of Longstreet's papers and effects were destroyed in fires. Particularly sparse are records pertaining to his youth.

Wert shines in his treatment of Longstreet's supposed Waterloo, Gettysburg, His treatment is even handed and covers all controversies in a thorough and analytical manner.

This is Civil War reading at its finest, by one of the top civil war historians of today. I heartily recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2007
Of the well-known Confederate generals Longstreet is by far the one who generates the most controversy and partisan opinions. On one extreme he is not only the man who lost the Confederacy the war by apparently sulking on the field of Gettysburg, but collaborated after the war with the hated federals and was thus a turncoat and an opportunist. Taking matters the other way he was a deeply thoughtful man who hated the needless loss of life, and if only Lee had listen to him (as portrayed in the very worthy film `Gettysburg'). He has also been pressed into service as the sort of conciliatory statesman The USA needs now - again based on his post Civil War careers.
Jeffery D Wert thus took on a difficult task to present a balanced account of one of the Confederacy's most talent generals, and I am pleased to say he has achieved it in this most fascinating of books.
The first two chapters are an absorbing account of Longstreet's life from birth to the out-break of the civil war, which affords us an insight not just into the man by our standards but the harsh conditions of those days; consider the pain and the burden of infant mortality the Longstreets' had the bear. Wert is to be congratulated for the research on this alone.
The bulk of the work is of course about the Civil War and here Wert is scrupulously fair. Yes Longstreet was a good general who did not throw away lives with the ruthlessness of Grant, but he not so caring of his men as to enjoy the comforts and horseplay of privileged officers, while his men suffered deprivations of unsanitary camps. Indeed if Lee had listened to him, it is possible the summer campaigns of 1863 might well have turned out differently, and Longstreet was there to cover the retreat from Gettysburg. Yet as Wert points out he did himself no favours when serving in the west under Bragg in and around Chattanooga in the autumn and winter of 1863, coming across then as something of a self-serving schemer. Back with Lee in 1864 he is shown in a more favourable light, but we are left with the feeling Longstreet was not quite the romantic character some of his supporters would have him be.
The last chapter is devoted to the end of the civil war and his later life, again Wert does not spare us, Longstreet was not a shinning example of reconciliation, but he does come across as man trying to make the best of a situation as he saw how.
Though Wert paints this man `warts and all' he saves his best judgement for the final paragraphs describing Longstreet's funeral and the moving tribute of one solitary, ordinary confederate soldier.
A very worthy account of one man and a turbulent time. For anyone with an interest in American history and particularly the Civil War a very valuable addition to have
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on 19 November 2012
This excellent biography , perhaps the best I have read of a Confederate General and I have read quit a lot, should have been subtitled The Confederacy's Most Competent General. What emerges in Wert's well researched book is a picture warts and all of a very competent and fearless general. Unlike some biographers who appear to be in awe of their subject and unable to see their faults or accept their failures (particularly those of Lee and Jackson )Wert readily accepts those of Longstreet and gives us the most complete picture we are ever likely to have of this great and unfairly much maligned hero of the Confederacy. I cannot reccomend this book highly enough' it belongs on every civil war bookshelf.
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on 5 April 2007
I hate biography that hagiography, this isn't. Wert has a lot of respect for his subject but paints an honest picture. Most of what I have read of Longstreet is divided into two groups 1) He couldn't do anything wrong 2) He was a dirty rat who defamed the great R.E.Lee. Wert tells it as it is. He lists his accomplishments but he doesn't let Longstreet off the hook either. There were times when he really was a dirty rat. No he can't get close to Longstreet the man because the paucity of records will not allow it, but he tries hard to read out of what is available. This is the best of the bunch and I think will be hard to better.
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on 12 May 2016
Heavy going and over-scholarly at times, it is still a must for civil war buffs.
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on 23 June 2016
Top marks,prompt arrival, book in pristine condition very good.
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on 22 May 2015
Excellent book and superb service from the provider
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on 4 May 2016
thank you
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