Saturday, October 4, 2014

American General: The Life and Times of William Tecumseh Sherman

By John S.D. Eisenhower

Military Historian John S. D. Eisenhower, was a Brigadier-General in the U.S. Army Reserves, served as the United States’ Ambassador to Belgium during the first term of the Nixon Administration, and was the son of President Dwight D. and Mamie (Doud) Eisenhower.

Eisenhower, the author of numerous works of military history and biography including “Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott,” “So Far From God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846-1848,” and “Zachary Taylor,” died at Trappe, Maryland on December 21, 2013.  At the time of his death he was the oldest living presidential child.  His final book, “American General: The life and Times of William Tecumseh Sherman,” was being made ready for publication at the time of his death and will be published posthumously on October 7, 2014.

“American General” is a short womb-to-tomb biography surveying the life of William Tecumseh Sherman, a Major-General in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and later General of the Army of the United States.  Sherman, often referred to as “the first modern general” is a polarizing figure of the Civil War depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line one hails, his is either a hero or a villain, and rarely anything in between.  Eisenhower’s biography is not heavy on historical minutia, relying heavily on secondary sources and published letters, “American General” is a brief synthesis of Sherman’s life.  His engaging narrative moves quickly from event to event from his birth to his death.

While there is nothing new between its covers “American General” is a solid biography of Sherman, though there are a more than a couple of errors of a typographical nature (such as dates of the wrong year) that should Mr. Eisenhower have been alive at the time of publication surely would have been caught, but they few and their actual meaning is clear and they do not interrupt Eisenhower’s easily read narrative.

“American General” is well written and adequately researched.  Though there is nothing really “new” within it, it is still an excellent biography of one of America’s most memorable generals, and would serve as a great introduction to those who have only a basic knowledge of the man who was William Tecumseh Sherman.

ISBN 978-0451471352, NAL Caliber Hardcover, © 2014, Hardcover, 352 pages, Photographs, Appendices, End Notes, Bibliography & Index. $28.95.  Click HERE to purchase this book.

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