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Sherman: A Soldier's Life

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In the crowded battlefield of Civil War commanders, William Tecumseh Sherman stands apart. Others are often summed up in a few words: the stubborn, taciturn Grant; the gentlemanly, gifted Lee; the stomping, cursing Sheridan; and the flamboyant, boyish Stuart. But the enigmatic Sherman still manages to elude us. Probably no other figure of his day divides historians so deep ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 22nd 2001 by Harper
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If you are looking for a complete biography, this isn't it. Kennett focuses most of his attentions on William T. Sherman's military career. As such, I wasn't even sure how many kids he and his wife had. What he does offer is a complex portrait of a complicated and controversial figure. He doesn't mince words or try to make Sherman anything less than what the man himself probably would have liked. He wasn't necessarily a good or evil man. He was a soldier above all, and did what he did to win his ...more
People either love him or hate him, think he's evil or that he's a hero. Certainly, as Kennett shows, Sherman was a complex and erratic person, difficult to predict, much less to categorize. Kennett, for the most part, maintains a careful neutrality, judging the man by what he himself wrote and what his contemporaries wrote about him, as well as by his actions. This biography is well-researched and interestingly written. It also sheds new light on such historical, often reviled, events like the ...more
Jeff Parris
Great in-depth biography of a man who produced accolades and scorn from Civil War era Americans. Lee Kennett examines the eccentricities of a true soldier, scabs and all. A must read for anyone interested in more than just the famous battles of the War Between the States. Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio, and being a Buckeye myself I wanted to learn more about this famous Ohioan. He turned out to be an itinerant soldier who never really enjoyed his times in his home state. In his own memoir h ...more
This book details the life of William Tecumseh Sherman. Focusing mainly on his military career it briefly follows his boyhood in Ohio then his time at West Point and his pre-Civil War time in the military, unlike many of his contemporary’s he didn't fight in the Mexican war but was stationed in California. It deals with his brief career as a banker before spend the rest of the book detailing his Civil War service and his post-Civil War career as general of the Army. His hatred of politicians and ...more
This was a fine book, but i thought it would contain more about Sherman's march and instead it was definitely a biography and almost glossed over the famous march. One thing i didn't like about the book is the retrospective psycho-analysis/diagnosis or Sherman. If you're looking for a biography of Sherman, this one's pretty good, but if you're looking for information on the march to the sea, then you won't find much here.
Very interesting look at one of the most important generals of the Civil War. The book tackled the rumors of insanity and why he was so hated in the South after the war. My one complaint is that even though the subtitle is "A Soldier's Life," there is a lack of coverage of his military ability.
David R.
Fundamentally a solid bio. Kennett tended to rush a bit through Sherman's career and over-tidily arranged his chapters into succinct nuggets of time and place, but created a deeper personal profile than is typical of treatments of Sherman. I'm still not certain I buy his portrait, but it is well worth a hearing. The Epilogue was masterful and gave even more context to the previous material.
Lisa Campbell
Okay, I admit it. I think I am half in love with William T. Sherman. There...I said it.

I love Kennett's approach to both the factual details as well as psychological thoughts on the "Cump's" personality. He was a fascinating character in history and Kennett keeps the information moving seamlessly.
Probably the most memorable aspect of this book for me was a thought-provoking forensic psychological view of General Sherman as having a narcissistic personality disorder.

Beyond that, it reads well and seems comprehensive (without being overly voluminous) and well researched, but perhaps a bit dry.
Many boigraphies are dry, but this was Sahara sand. I appreciate the attention to detail the author put forth but it was almost painful to read. I got half way thru and then had to quit.
Jennifer Rao
Excellent book. Fairly quick read for a historical biography. Used lots of personal correspondence which made it more insightful. Well researched.
Sean Chick
The best analysis I've read of Sherman's personality but hurt by some narrative holes.
short on vicksburg. more psych than military
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