Professor Robertson's book is a remarkable work of scholarship. The last two chapters and the epilogue were among the most moving pieces I have ever read. Like a Greek tragedy the omens were there - the head cold (a probable contributory cause of the pneumonia) - the fallen sword and Hayden turning back to ask the General to take care of himself. I found myself wanting to shout: "If you must go out there at least make sure your pickets know"! Fortunately, perhaps, history cannot be changed like that! The extensive bibliography shows the depth of research Professor Robertson put into his work. The occasional wanderings and returns of Little Sorrel were interesting side issues of the main story. It seems to me that in Hunter McGuire General Jackson had a remarkably skilful military surgeon. It does not surprise me that ten modern day physicians come up with ten different diagnoses of the General's final illness!! Such is the way of medical historians. However septicaemia was not an uncommon cause of death following pneumonia in the pre-antibiotic era. It is also likely that a fractured rib might have caused some of the pain in Jackson's side. All this is speculation as is the question: "Would Lee have ordered Pickett's charge had Jackson been at Gettysburg?" Surely Jackson would have come up with a better idea. Such speculation is part of the "fun" for us amateur historians! Thank you for a fine book.
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Robinson has done with Jackson what Shelby Foote did with the Civil War: generate an incredibly well researched work that is a requirement for any student not only of the Civil War, but of military history, tactics, and doctrine in general, Southern history in general, heroes in general. Robinson adeptly debunks old myths and explains in a very clear way why this man rose to the status he did in the South, in the United States, and in Europe. Additionally, Robinson paints such a clear portrait that by the time Jackson is killed, one cannot help but feel, at the very least, a twinge of pain at his loss. Jackson's youth, adolescence, VMI years, and war years are all presented in great and honest detail that does not attempt to praise Jackson, but generates praise nonetheless. Still, though, the General's faults are recognized, explained, or accepted, whichever is appropriate. Totally unadulterated. Aside from (but not beneath) Foote's Civil War Narrative, the finest work relating to the Civil War I've read to date. One of the finest books I've read. Don't miss this one!
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I bought this book after listening to the author give a review on cable. He was amazing to listen to and the book is every bit as good. I like the critical thinking applied to this work. No hero worship here. Stonewall Jackson's strengths as well as his personal failings are there for all to see. I like the fact that the author takes a stand on issues and builds his case with facts. When facts are not obvious he offers his opinion. This and Coddington's Gettysburg have been the two best Civil War books I have ever read. This was an absolute joy to read.
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First, let me say I enjoyed Robertson's book immensely. If you're a yankee, and have read "Northern" histories of this or that battle (Stephen Sears is a favorite of mine) or campaign, this book will make a tremendous addition to your overall understanding, with its unabashed and sometimes politically incorrect Southern viewpoint. (For example escaped slaves captured at Harpers Ferry are referred to as "recovered", and Robertson immediately passes on the rumor that Stonewall's Union-sister was [literally!] "in bed" with Union officers) One buys this book to learn about Tom Jackson, and in this you will not be diappointed. I loved the pictures included, although a picture of his surviving daughter might have been a nice addition. A host of other characters pop up and many are treated if not dismissively, then as somewhat cartoonish figures, but this isn't a knock. The book would run double length if Robertson got sidetracked by other towering personalities like Lee or Longstreet. I was put off that Robertson accepted the notion that Pope wrote the bragging communique about being used to seeing the enemies backs in the west. I've read in numerous other books that Stanton did that one over Pope's name. But Robertson evenhandedly gives Howard's XI Corps a break, pointing out that brave man in a bad spot did their best against Jackson's great flanking assault at Chancellorsville. And, the last chapter will break your heart. Just like the movie Titanic, you know how the book ends, but it is finely written, and understated. I'll buy whatever else Professor Robertson cares to write!
Author Robertson is not only a great historian, he is also an incredibly good wordsmith. Seldom in an historical biography have I seen such excellent writing combined with such in-depth and (relatively) unbiased research. This book is jammed with detailed information about Jackson: socially awkward, agonzingly shy and diffident, odedient to orders to the point of insanity, absurdly religious.Yet, this is my "take" on the book. The author never literally comes out and states this. He presents information. It is up to the reader to form his/her own opinions......After 40 plus years of studying Civil War history, I am long past hero worship. I never saw Jackson or Lee or any other general as a god - and I do not now. I don't believe that was the author's purpose. I believe his pupose was to present all the facts he could about Jackson in an organized and entertaining fashion. That the author is also a great writer makes this work all the more enjoyable. .......This is probably the BEST biography I have ever read, both in terms of scholarship and the quality of the writing. My only regret was that I did not get to read the many items that were left out of this already lengthy book by the authors and editors. I was not quite ready for Jackson to go.
Robertson's biography of Jackson is like a bricklayer's work: a steady, thorough layering of mortar and stone, all the details fashioned with precision, care and attention to the final result. Reading about Jackson's early life, his family tragedies and struggle to find purpose through religion and service to his country, one is amazed that, even in his day, Jackson was considered a man apart from his peers, an "eccentric", and a mysterious personality that found his true voice in battle. Robertson's prose is simple, yet absorbing in its narrative of Jackson, his time and those around him who lived and died in mid nineteenth-century America. By the book's last chapters, you feel as if you had reached the top of the wall Roberton has built, brick by brick, to witness the last hours at Chancellorsville. The author's style is subtle: I found myself missing the wit and sweeping cast of Bruce Catton, but Robertson's attention to his subject, the almost day-by-day account of Jackson's life and demeanor lead you to be moved finally at the moment of triumph and tragedy at the end. Even those who are familiar with this chapter of the Civil War will appreciate the insight into one of history's rarest individuals.
This is perhaps the finest work I have ever read on a single individual. The book itself is remarkable both for the amount of detail and for the care with which it is documented. Robertson debunks many previous Jackson myths, and seems to be able to explore the mind of the man with comfortable ease. You get the sense that he actually was aquainted with the great man. The story of Jackson is quite thorough, presenting not only Jackson the Confederate general, but also Jackson the schoolboy, the teacher, and the devout Presbyterian. Even without the Civil War sections, this book would still be fascinating reading, especially the years in which he taught at VMI. The Civil War years are chronicled well, but be warned, this is a book about Jackson, and covers only those engagements in which he had direct influence. This is not as distracting as it sounds, and in fact is somewhat practical, as it presents the battle from Jackson's front. The book is rather lengthy, but not monotonous, and it reads very well. The end is especially heartbreaking and emotional, and summarizes well the life of a remarkable man and his tragic death.
Thomas Jackson who became 'stonewall jackson' was an unlikely cadet at west point, but with tenacious studying he managed to graduate. He didn't like or respect any of his peers except Robert E Lee. He made mistakes as at White oak swamp and his one weakness was that he needed a lot of sleep. None of his subordinates liked him much either but he became the man he was eventually to be revered by his tenacity and his ability to drive himself and his armies. A hardly recognised General - usually with his cap down over his eyes and covered in dust he commanded a strange sight to many who expected a more distinguised person. His main objectives were to disrupt union supplies by rail or water/sea in the Shenendoah valley/Washington. Had it not been for Stonewall the union army would have taken Richmond much earlier - but he helped in 'rattling' George McLennan so much that Lincoln relieved him. Eventually to be shot by 'friendly fire' - a great loss to the confederates who were never going to win the war but Stonewall did his best to slow it down.
General Thomas Jonathan(Stonewall) Jackson's known Christian roots first attracted me as a Christian, like George Washington, Rober E. Lee who were born in the close vicinities of my adopted home town here in the U.S. (Westmoreland County, VA) My family and I watched a movie produced by Bob Jones University entitiled Red Runs the River which we enjoyed a great deal. Stonewall Jackson was featured in the movie as the one who led General Richard S. Ewell (played by Bob Jones Sr.) to Christ. As soon as I started to read this book, I began to known Thom J. Jackson as someone I can truely identify with - a Christian brother. Jackson admitted to have knowinly told only a lie in all his life: During the war with Mexico, as an artillary officer admist a hail of enemy bullets, he stood tall and say to his remaining men who were taking cover, saying " look, there is no danger here!"
James I. Robertson, Jr.'s biography of Stonewall Jackson will long stand as the definitive summary of the life of this extraordinary military commander. Exhaustively researched and gracefully written, Robertson's biography portrays Jackson as he was - a deeply religious Sunday school teacher in Lexington, Va., a loving and devoted husband and father, and a stern and feared commander in battle. Based almost entirely on primary sources, Stonewall Jackson challenges many of the myths and misconceptions that have surrounded the general. This book also represents the culmination of Robertson's long and distinguished career as one of this country's finest Civil War historians. Without question it is his finest effort and the best biography of Jackson ever written.