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Jefferson Davis, American

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  201 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
From a distinguished historian of the America South comes this thoroughly human portrait of the complex man at the center of our nation's most epic struggle.

Jefferson Davis initially did not wish to leave the Union-as the son of a veteran of the American Revolution and as a soldier and senator, he considered himself a patriot. William J. Cooper shows us how Davis' initial
Paperback, 848 pages
Published November 13th 2001 by Vintage (first published November 7th 2000)
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I've read many books on the American Civil War, biographies of Lincoln, Lee, Grant and Sherman, books about individual battles, about particular theatres of war, about Lincoln's assassination, about Reconstruction - but for some reason I've never read anything focusing on Jefferson Davis before. And that's been a definite hole in my Civil War reading, a hole that has been more than amply filled with this biography.

But this book is about more than just the Civil War. Admirably, Cooper resists the
Jan 12, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cooper has put together a lot of information and made it readable. He did not produce a page turner, but he does not put you to sleep either. The book is not interpretive, but Davis is presented more as a hero than a traitor.

While I am not qualified to judge the completeness of the biography, it seemed complete until it ended abruptly with Davis's death. I did an internet search to learn more about the death and aftermath of Davis. The funeral was significant and should have had more than a ment
This is an exceptional biography of a political figure that dominated the early and mid 19th century in the United States. The only president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis had sworn an oath much earlier in his life to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. He had served the U.S. as an army officer (graduate of West Point and combatant in the Mexican War), as a Congressman and Senator from Mississippi for many years and as Secretary of War during the pres ...more
John Maniscalco
Mar 11, 2011 John Maniscalco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book is not only fitting, but serves as a much needed tribute to a great patriot.

Jefferson Davis graduated from West Point, served with honor in the Mexican-American War, was elected to the House and Senate, and was Franklin Pierce's Secretary of State. Yet, modern Americans remember Jefferson Davis only from the years 1861 onward when he was elected President of the Confederacy and, after the war, became the living symbol of an unrepentant rebel.

Jefferson Davis would find muc
William Cooper provides a very thorough and balanced view of Jefferson Davis the only President of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was an American war hero and Senator from the State of Mississippi following a childhood fraught with ups and downs. After winning an appointment to West Point and succeeding in military affairs he became a planter in Mississippi with his older brother. He was a balanced leader who supported states rights but did not fall into the firebrand culture ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This bio is very well written and moves fairly quickly for such an in-depth look a Davis' life. The author does not make 20th or 21st Century judgments about the life of a 19th Century man. Most readers will find Davis' views on race and slavery to be offensive (as they should), but William Cooper, while not supporting those views, puts them into the context of 19th Century America, where most people, even if they opposed slavery, still believed in the separation of the races and the inferiority ...more
Aug 23, 2015 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It occurred to me when I decided to take a tour of Mississippi and visit Rosemont and Beauvoir that I didn't actually know much about Jefferson Davis. So I ordered this book which had received decent reviews on Goodreads and I was not disappointed. It is well written and gives one a good sense of who Jefferson Davis was - a man of his times and a man of integrity and honor. It also gives a glimpse into his private life. I think Cooper has done an excellent job in this particular biography. I wou ...more
Oct 27, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so happy to have read this book. He was an interesting man and not a villain. I continue to be struck by the parallels between our current political times and those surrounding the civil war, when positions were polarized and no compromise was possible, and the major issues of the day were framed in terms of right and wrong, good and evil, all with specific reference to god, religion and morality.
Dec 29, 2013 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
I actually ran out of renewals on this one, so I had to take it back. I'll definitely pick it up again soon to finish it.

In spite of not completing it, I can say this was one of the best biographies I have read. For me, Davis's politics just became unbearable no matter how well written it was. I'll get back to this later, though, so a real review is in the works!
Rhyan Phillips
Mar 14, 2012 Rhyan Phillips rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very in depth study of a man who I knew little about. Before the secession of the southern states and the outbreak of the civil war, Davis stood out as a highly influential American statesman and, in my opinion, should be included more often in study of mid-nineteenth century America. While no small undertaking at just over 700 pages, I would say this book is well worth reading.
Bill Taylor
Sep 04, 2015 Bill Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned-and-read
Thorough, detailed, excellently researched. This is a well written and engaging narrative of the life of someone known more by legend than fact. Understanding Jeff Davis is essential to understanding the zeitgeist of the pre-war South.
Oct 16, 2015 Richard marked it as to-read-3rd  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by:
Shelves: biographical, history
I want to read this book because of this staggeringly distressing blog post: Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party .
May 13, 2008 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a history nut like me you will really enjoy this book. It is really interesting to see how this man was torn between loyalty to the nation, and loyalty to his culture. A great opportunity to learn more about Southern culture during the Civil War.
Douglas White
The book was thorough and detailed. Perhaps too much information. However, prior to reading the book I knew nothing about the man. The book is excellent in helping readers with background to a very complex period of our nation's history
Jul 03, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great overview of his life, especially the post Civil War years. Wish there had been a bit more detail on his time in the Mexican War.
Joshua Horn
Mar 14, 2012 Joshua Horn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were some things in which I did not agree with his interpretation, but overall enjoyed this biography. Davis deserves a much more detailed biography.
Eric Kiser
Jan 15, 2014 Eric Kiser rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Davis brings his subject to life in ways most miss. Great book about a great man.
Feb 24, 2008 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very sympathertic to Davis, but did have more about his personal life & post-war life than previous books I've read.
Phil Delp
Phil Delp rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2016
David L. Scrip
David L. Scrip rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2015
Jeff rated it it was amazing
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Nov 04, 2015
David R.
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Phil Alsop
Phil Alsop rated it it was amazing
Jan 08, 2017
Richard Kolk
Richard Kolk rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2014
Paul Ripsky
Paul Ripsky rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2015
Mike rated it it was amazing
Mar 26, 2012
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“Two Confederate senators proposed a night attack on McClellan employing exotic tactics—“5000 [men] stripped naked to storm the camps of the enemy with the bayonet only & Kill everybody with clothes on.” 0 likes
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