In The Warrior Generals, award-winning historian Thomas B. Buell has given us a magisterial work--an epic narrative of the Civil War that is also a penetrating study of combat leadership on both sides. Despite the vast number of books written about the war, cliché and sentiment have largely governed our understanding of the conflict and its commanding generals. Now Buell, clearing away layers of hearsay and mythology, gives us a fresh and provocative picture of the war as it really was. He examines three pairs of legendary generals from the Union and Confederacy, including Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, who met repeatedly in battle. In a penetrating study of combat leadership, Buell shows us how these leaders prevailed through strengths of character that often existed side by side with flaws that would have undone other men. Interweaving the stories of these six men with dramatic scenes from famous battlefields such as Antietam and Chattanooga, Buell creates a sweeping panorama of the Civil War.
PRAISE FOR The Warrior Generals:
"A book that deserves to be read, and argued over, for years to come."
--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"The Warrior Generals is the rarest of all works: a book about the American Civil War which says something fresh and new."
--Magill Book Reviews
"Mr. Buell provides a great deal of background information, much of it drawn from sources usually ignored. His basic purpose is never forgotten, but it becomes embedded in a sizable, always interesting history of the whole war. Mr. Buell can describe terrain, evoke conditions, and summarize action briskly and lucidly.... Even those who refute his premise should find the book's unfamiliar detail and good writing rewarding--and Mr. Buell does have an initial point in his favor: The Federals won."
"I found Buell's large-scale narrative exciting and illuminating, and his controversial portraits of Lee and Grant believable."
--Herman Wouk, author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War
FROM THE AUTHOR, THOMAS BUELL:
"One of the greatest difficulties in understanding how the generals functioned is that much of the war's history is biased and distorted. Upon scholarly inquiry, truisms about popular historical events and personalities are often discovered to be entirely misleading or wrong. It was something that Samuel Johnson knew about. "Many things which are false," he once said, " are transmitted from book to book, and gain credit in the world." So it has been with much of Civil War history. The misconceptions are pervasive and widespread, even among those who are in a position to know better. A few years ago I accompanied a party of Army War College students on a staff ride across Virginia Civil War battlefields. These senior army officers, steeped in the principles of their profession, expressed the view that the Confederacy's generals were the superior leaders in terms of competency and experience, and that the Federal generals ultimately prevailed not because of their leadership skills, but the abundance of northern manpower and material. This prevailing but mistaken view of the Civil War generals is considered common knowledge from grammar school to the senior service colleges. While it does not bear up to scrutiny, rarely is it challenged The importance of the western and eastern theaters is similarly distorted. The popular PBS Civil War documentary, like most works on the war, emphasized the eastern campaigns. Gettysburg received nearly an entire episode, Franklin and Nashville but a few moments of passing commentary, yet the Tennessee campaign was the more decisive on the outcome of the war. Under these circumstances, Civil War history and the roles of its generals cry for clarification and revision. Through my researching primary sources to the extent possible, facts have come to light that have cleared away layers of mythology and folklore. What follows in the book is a fresh assessment of what happened and why."
--Thomas B. Buell