I received a prerelease e-copy of this book through NetGalley (publication date July 1 2014) with the expectation that I will post a review on their s...moreI received a prerelease e-copy of this book through NetGalley (publication date July 1 2014) with the expectation that I will post a review on their site and others (my blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, Amazon, etc.).
I have read many books about the civil war and the key individuals involved, but this is the first one devoted to William Tecumseh Sherman. It is well written resulting in an easy and engrossing read. It also well documented with an extensive note section. This is the first book by the author that I have read, but based on this one I will be seeking out others that he has written.
Sherman was somewhat of a complicated character. He actually enjoyed being around people, was theatrical in his approach at times, opinionated, a bit of a rogue and stubborn. At the same time he struggled for control of his family and had a long memory when he felt he was slighted.
O'Connell takes a different approach from most biographies in that instead of one long interwoven narrative he has broken the life of "Old Billy" into three sections dealing with different facets of his character and interactions over the course of his life.
The first and lengthiest deals with his development as a military strategist. The second section deals with his interaction with his troops. The third section is devoted to his family relationships.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about William Tecumseh Sherman, his part in the Civil War and the his involvement in the opening of the west. (less)
Every year I try and read at least one book that is in some way related to the Lewis and Clark expedition. This year I chose this book by Peter Stark...moreEvery year I try and read at least one book that is in some way related to the Lewis and Clark expedition. This year I chose this book by Peter Stark and I was not disappointed.
The book is well researched and is written in a style that makes it easy to read and understand. It covers the history of the United States expansion into the pacific northwest after Lewis and Clark and is divided into three parts: The Launch, The Journey and The Pacific Empire and War.
It starts with the background history on John Jacob Astor and his development into one of the financial titans of the early 19th century. His ability to recognize and seize opportunity is what led to his desire for the establishment of a fur trading operation in the pacific northwest. It expands into the journey of two different groups he financed. One by sea and the second by land and the difficulties that they each faced. Some due to environmental conditions and some due to weak leadership.
The land expedition was led by Wilson Price Hunt and through trial and error uncovered an easier route to the northwest than that used by Lewis and Clark. This passage become known as the Oregon Trail. The ocean group was led by Jonathan Thorn whose military experience made for an inflexible leader who did not heed the advice offered and created a number of needless difficult situations.
The books ends with the War of 1812 and the eventual compromise that led to the division of the northwest territory between the United States and England. The author also reveals what happened to those in the two parties that survived the events during this time period.
I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in what happened after Lewis and Clark ventured to the northwest or has an interest in the early history of the Pacific Northwest.(less)
This is an earlier work by Stephen E. Ambrose. It is not written in the easy to read, story telling style of his later works, but in a more detailed a...moreThis is an earlier work by Stephen E. Ambrose. It is not written in the easy to read, story telling style of his later works, but in a more detailed and academic presentation. It is well documented with numerous notes including numerous map, photographs and drawings. The book is divided into four parts. Part One is about the early years for both men. It covers Custer's life from his upbringing as Autie in Ohio to his colorful years and graduation from West Point. It also covers Crazy Horse's development as Curly into a brave and leader within his tribe.
Part Two covers the gueriila warfare among the Oglalas and Custer's experience in the Civil War. It outlines the early leadership development and style of both individuals.
Part Three addresses the action on the plains and Custer's arrival in the west in the years immediately after the civil war. It addresses the battles, broken treaties and the truce that developed during this time.
Part Four deals with the years and circumstances leading up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It includes the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, the Panic of 1873 and the political atmosphere at the time both in Washington and in the field. It also covers the events surrounding the death of Crazy Horse and wat happened to the other primary players in the events of that time - Sitting Bull, Libbie Custer, Major Reno, etc.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in american western history or the lives of Custer and/or Crazy Horse. A good companion read is The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick. (less)