Review by Choice Review
Devotees of Civil War military history have another fine volume to add to their shelves. Moody (Florida State Univ.) offers a short biography of William Tecumseh Sherman with a focus on stories that developed around him during and after the Civil War. The author explains what Southerners and Northerners meant when they called him a "demon," and why they did so. Drawing extensively on 19th-century newspapers, pertinent authorities, and relevant manuscripts, Moody locates the construction of the ruthless, vindictive Sherman in sources of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and even more specifically in the pages of the Confederate Veteran, a magazine widely popular throughout the South. Additionally, Sherman's reputation suffered in relation to those of rival Union generals such as John M. Schofield, who burnished their reputations while tarnishing that of Sherman. The book concludes with chapters on Sherman in film and in the works of contemporary historians. If not for the post-1890 rewriting of Sherman's career, filmmakers, historians of the past 50 years, and even contemporary southerners would not think General Sherman a practitioner of total war. The concluding chapters hold greatest value to devotees of historiography. Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries and levels of readers. L. L. Stevenson Franklin & Marshall College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
In his penetrating study of William Tecumseh Sherman from his childhood and early posting as major general for the state militia of California until his death in 1891, Moody (The Battle of Jonesboro) traces his subject's ever morphing reputation. He reminds the reader that tantalizing myths affecting Sherman's reputation had been evolving since before his controversial March to the Sea and were fostered by the general's obsessive drive for financial and job security in the ranks (even at the cost of promotion), the creation of wartime propaganda, the prevailing tactic of officers (including Sherman) to pad their military contributions at the expense of battlefield realities, the Reconstruction period and the Gilded Age, the South's attempt to absorb and later justify its loss in the war, with Sherman as both champion and villain, and the scholars, past and present, who molded Sherman's place in history to comport with their own interpretations. Moody concludes that Americans are still miles away from reviewing Sherman's record with calm impartiality. VERDICT A well-researched and concisely penned work, offering progressive Civil War historiography that's sharply focused through the life of one of this country's most enigmatic and evocative military figures. Mandatory reading for Civil War scholars and enthusiasts alike.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.