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This is my third Jackson biography. S.C. Gwynne offers great insight into his subject - that, and clarity of narrative. The book is appealingly organized. Whether one is new to the life of this extraordinary man or a student of his exploits, this iteration does not disappoint...a very good read.
( Note: Occasional internet forays into battle maps are useful - one of the few downsides to listening rather than reading. Some notion as to the geography of the Shenandoah Valley is essential.)
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
I am not sure what force made me click the express pay button, but I am sure glad I did! While I do love history, my bailiwick is usually English history. However, taking my daughter to college in Massachusetts for four years, I used to drive the I-81 corridor with all the battlefield signs and I have been to the charming town of Lexington, so I decided after listening to the sample, why not?
I only had a very basic knowledge about the Civil War. This is a great book to use as a spring board. It is written well, the author is straight forward and paints the world of the old south and T.J. Jackson's early life engagingly. Jackson goes from being an awkward, taciturn man and quite possibly the most boring teacher EVER to the hero of the south. He even gets better looking as he grows into his reputation! (Hence, my entry of his picture to My Daguerrotype Boyfriend (dot) blogspot. ) When the war starts, Jackson decides he must go the way Virginia goes and even though he is certainly a somewhat reluctant slave owner, like his contemporaries, he is accepting of the institution.
And so, we are off the races, so to speak. Who knew the Federal Union soldiers were so timid? As you read this book, you realize the Union had the fancy equipment, but the Rebels had the motivation. It's amazing the North won the war! The author uses Jackson's own words as culled from the many letters he left behind and I am convinced Stonewall must have sounded like Cotter Smith, who was FABULOUS. I would like to ask Audible to have him re-record John Adams and and unabridged version of Undaunted Courage!
I want to reiterate that I have never read a book about the Civil War but this book has made me want to read more, I might move on the Ulysses S. Grant next and then visit every battlefield on I-81 and Stonewall's house in Lexington! I will also be on the look out for more books by S.C. Gwynne.
29 of 31 people found this review helpful