The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History

by Jonathan Horn

Hardcover, 2015




Scribner, (2015)


On the eve of the Civil War, one soldier embodied the legacy of George Washington and the hopes of leaders across a divided land. Both North and South knew Robert E. Lee as the son of George Washington's most famous eulogist and the son-in-law of Washington's adopted child. Each side sought his service for high command. Lee could choose only one. Here, former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn reveals how the officer most associated with Washington went to war against the Union that Washington had forged. This extensively researched and gracefully written biography follows Lee through married life, military glory, and misfortune. The story that emerges is more complicated, more tragic, and more illuminating than the familiar tale. As Washington was the man who would not be king, Lee was the man who would not be Washington. The choice was Lee's. The story is America's.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member NickHowes
Robert E. Lee, related to George Washington slightly by blood, and more directly by marrying Washington's granddaughter, became the antithesis of the founder of the country. While Washington owed allegiance to the nation, Lee regarded his home state as his nation. That's the theme of this interesting biography of Lee, with much of the content in Lee's own words. And like Jefferson, Lee accepts that slavery will end one day, but until then fully accepts the status quo, supporting only the proposition of leading by example to the extent that slaves be treated fairly. An interesting insight into Lee, the man, and his role. Similarly, Lee undertook leadership of the Southern cause, eclipsing even its president, before which he considered the Union indivisible, as the author points out. And, as Jonathan Horn writes, it assured that every child of lowly status had the chance to rise to become a Lincoln.… (more)
LibraryThing member torrey23
This is a well written book. It illuminates the struggle Lee faced his entire life. This struggle led him to turn his back on the Union, even though he was opposed to secession, and fight for Virginia. There is very little bias shown for the north or the south. I would highly recommend this book.


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