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I wrapped up the course The Civil War: Seminal Event in American History on Friday. It was an excellent course. There were more non-military history students in the class than I usually see but that’s because it provided both a broad and – where appropriate – deep view of the antebellum America, the war, and its key players and events. Douglas Southall FreemanWhile I only have a week before the next course starts, I’ve started reading the first of  the  four volume work by Douglas Southall Freeman (pictured right), R. E. Lee: A Biography. As I mentioned in a comment earlier, I was fortunate to win Robert El. Leea hard fought eBay auction for the four volume Pulitzer Prize Edition published in 1949 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. It’s old and yellowed and smells like old books do after sitting on a shelf for years but it is otherwise in excellent shape. The original work was copyrighted in 1934 and Freeman won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1935 under the category of Biography or Autobiography. He would go on to win another for his biography of George Washington (he wrote six of the seven volumes) in 1958. Freeman started his research and writing of the Lee biography in 1915. The math reveals that it took him 20 years to complete. Freeman indicates in his foreward that a great deal of primary source material had not been reviewed prior to his effort and his study of those resources led to four volumes instead of the planned one. Amazingly, the entire 4 volume set was hand typed into html and is available online here.

2 Responses to What I'm Reading Over Break

  1. Rene Tyree says:

    Thanks for your note John and for the tip on what sounds like a great book. I’ll add it to my reading list for sure.

    Best,

    Rene

  2. John Maass says:

    Speaking of Lee, I just finished “Reading the Man,” a new book on Lee based primarily on new letters found in Alexandria and many unused items in the Va Hist Soc. I think the book is excellent, although it might not be the best book to start with if one has never read anything on Lee. Having read DSF’s “Lee”, I was very glad to have read “Reading the Man,” as it gave Lee a far more human face than DSF does.

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