The Wartime Papers Of Robert E. Lee
This monumental contribution to the literature of the Civil War brings together Lee's official correspondence—letters, orders, dispatches, battle reports—with his touching letters to his family, thus providing a previously unavailable view of Lee's life during the war. From the more than 6,000 items, the editors have chosen to reprint many letters in full for the first time, so that Lee is seen complete, self-revealed, in all his dignity and purpose. Short narratives connect each section—on the mobilization of Virginia, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and the siege of Petersburg and Appomattox. Sponsored by the Virginia Civil War Commission to commemorate the Civil War Centennial, this expert work of scholarship dramatizes Lee's life as only his own correspondence could. As Lee himself said: ”Letters are good representatives of our minds. They certainly present a good criterion for judging of the character of the individual.”
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After reading this book for the second time, I have come to believe it may be the best insight into R.E.Lee ever compiled. It is not a book that was written about him, for him or to him. It is basicly written BY him. The short narrative in the beginning of each section offers an outline of the period covered by the letters, dipatches and telegraphs to come. It is indeed a non-stop trip through his thinking on the war, his family, his views on secession and slavery, and his ever present worry of providing for his men. You cannot really know Lee without reading this book, for it tells it all in his own words. I have been studying this war since I learned to read nearly 45 years ago and cannot reccomend this book highly enough.