Civil War Book Review: A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863
by Jeffry D. Wert

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863 by Jeffry D. Wert

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416593349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416593348

The story of a fabled army

Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia occupy a special place in both our history and mythology.  For many, this is the American Civil War.  Either glorify or demonize, the man and his army are the subject of a library full of books.  Jeffery Wert is no stranger as he steps fearlessly into this arena.  Books on this subject can draw fire from both sides, placing an author in the middle of an ongoing battle.  Wert has an almost lyrical style that is equally informative and fun to read.  While not terse, he tells the story without unnecessary words.  Add an ability to use respected historians, original sources with his intelligent observations make for an excellent book.

This history covers the time from Lee assuming command outside of Richmond to Gettysburg, an oft-told tale that Wert tells in a fresh vigorous way.

This is not a detailed slog through battles, army politics and supply problems.

This is not a detailed tactical study of the battles.

This is a very solid overview of the months when Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia became the embodiment of the Confederacy.  The book maintains a real balance between detail and story.  The level of detail adjusts to the needs of the story and never slows the story.  This is very necessary, as these are busy months with multiple stories.  We focus on the relationship between Lee, his officers and the men.  On how they grow together and how they learn the limits of the other.

This is not the mythic story but a hard honest look full of truth.  The author maintains a balance between admiration and history.  The myth is not allowed to take control but this is the foundation of the myth.  Presentation of the battles is from the army perspective.  Decisions and discussions are equal to the fighting and more important to our story.  The result is a unique look at Lee, Longstreet & Jackson at work.  We get a chance to see how Rodes, Gordon, Early were able to prosper and how others failed.

Physically this is an attractive book with usable maps and good illustrations.  The book has a full set of end notes, index and bibliography as expect in a serious history.

Jeffery Wert is one of our best authors and this is one of his best books.


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