Today is the last day of March. Does anyone else think that this year is going by fast? Anyway, it is time for my third post of the year for my Reading Challenge 2015. This month I chose to read a book because of it’s cover.
As I stated in my first Reading Challenge post, “I am addicted to books.” I even work in a book store and print books for a living! Needless to say, I am surrounded by books all day everyday. Back in Decemeber this book caught my eye, Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief by James McPherson. The cover caught my eye because I am a self-proclaimed American Civil War buff. I am extremely fascinated with this point in history on both sides of the war. I’ve read many books on the subject, most recently I read Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reily. Last year, I watched the PBS documentuary on the Civil War by Ken Burns. Both the Union and Confederacy had justification for starting the war, but neither side anticipated the magnitude to which it would grow.
In Embattled Rebel, McPherson briefly chronicles the presidency of Jefferson Davis from Fort Sumter to Appomattox and his escape from Richmond. In many ways Davis was the perfect leader for the confederate cause, but his intentions and leadership style were extremely flawed. He was a micro-manager who had a say in almost every aspect of the war down to what type of food the troops were fed. Most of his presidency, Davis was afflicted with illness and lead the war effort from his sickbed. Yet, on many occasions he visited battle fields and was even shot at by Union troops.
In the eyes of history most tend to hail President Lincoln for his leadership during the war, and rightly so. Yet, President Davis is seen, in the eyes of many, as a leader who wanted to keep people enslaved in a country founded in freedom. To be fair to Jefferson Davis, he was the leader of a cause that was set up to fail. From the beginning of the war and for the majority of its duration the Confederacy was on the defensive. They were outnumbered by Union troops in almost every battle of the war. Yet, Davis believed in the Confederate cause to the very end. Even after the war he believed that the Confederacy could and should have won the war. In that regard McPherson does an excellent job of telling the story from an unbiased historical lense.
Embattled Rebel is a facinating look at one of the Civil War’s key figures and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a student of history. One can only fully understand the war by studying it from both sides. In the end it was for the best interest of America that the Union was preserved and slavery abolished, even though the South felt the affects of a crippled economy for many generations following the war. The Civil War is a point in American History that was pivitol for this country and we are still feeling the effects of it today.
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: October 2014
Genre: American History, Civil War