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A Sin by Any Other Name: Reckoning with Racism and the Heritage of the South

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  62 reviews
A descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee chronicles his story of growing up with the South's most honored name, and the moments that forced him to confront the privilege, racism, and subversion of human dignity that came with it.

With a foreword by Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King.

The Reverend Robert W. Lee was a little-known pastor at a church in North Carolina until the
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Convergent Books
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Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I ever pre-ordered. When it arrived, I read it all in one sitting! I'm a WOC (Asian-American) who was raised in a conservative community in the South. I was taught the Lost Cause of the Confederacy like it was dogma. It was not until the aftermath of Charlottesville that I began to reexamine the heritage of the South. In the turbulent times that followed the tragedy of Charlottesville, Robert W. Lee IV (a descendant of the general whose monument was the center of the riots ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I honestly cannot fathom the weight of being named Robert Lee and living in the South whether you are his descendent, as the author is, or not.
As Lee writes, his interactions with strangers generally go in two directions. The first being a quick look of surprise, followed by a “huh!”. The second being a “Oh cool! The South will rise again!”.
It’s the latter that is where this books heart lies.
In the wake of Charlottesville, risi
Jessica Jeffers
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was...fine. It might be more eye-opening for others who have spent less time reading about this topic already, but I felt like he was mostly rehashing a lot of talking points that I've already read and doing so without quite as much depth. Also, I found the Christian bent off-putting. That being said, I agree with his arguments and I do think his points are important. ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Robert W. Lee IV is a Methodist pastor and a distant nephew of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. This book is a brief memoir of the younger Lee’s journey towards advocacy for racial reconciliation. I agreed with much of what Lee wrote. America in general and the South in particular has a dark and complicated legacy of systemic racism, something that has lingering effects today. Although not everyone will agree with some of Lee’s proposals (e.g., that statues honoring Confederate generals should ...more
Tim Good
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dear white churches: Call for every member to read this book; not only as a mirror, but as a bridge.
Jessica Rodrigues
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, adult-nonfiction
Growing up in the south with a name like "Robert Lee," the author has been pulled into more conversations about the Civil War, the south, and race than the average person. As a member of the Lee family, (Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a distant uncle) Confederate history has always been a significant part of his life. And, at one point in his adolescence, he sheepishly admits that he even decorated his bedroom in Confederate flags.

However, during his childhood of private schools and an a
Stephanie Simim
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hate overshadows so much of lives around us. I have been following Reverend Lee for a long time and reading this memoir had brought me to tears and reflection when reminded of what has happened in recent time of Charlottesville, and the sin of racism still creeping around.

If our God is not a God of justice, redemption, faithfulness and love- then who is it we worship than a mere reflection of ourselves? And if our God IS of those things, then why are we not reflecting that as we were created in
Michael Philliber
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It's worth the read. Robert W. Lee IV, Methodist minister, descendant of Robert E. Lee, southerner, religion columnist and faculty lecturer at Appalachian State University, has crafted a personal memoir of how he was thrust into the limelight after the Charlottesville protests. It's an easy-to-read volume that is sure to garner the applause of many, and rouse the ire of multitudes.

Lee recounts his childhood days growing up in steeply southern Statesville, North Carolina. But the author spends m
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. The book has an important message, and I appreciate Rev. Lee’s willingness to share his story. For me, the book is at its best when the author recounts his youthful experiences, particularly the story of how his Black confirmation sponsor opened his eyes to a different view of the Confederate flag.
Mark Nenadov
This book is by a relative of the confederate general Robert E. Lee. This is not really a review but a note to indicate that I read this book in an ongoing attempt to read more broadly from a variety of sources on this issue.
Kristen Britt
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiring, memoir
Rev. Rob’s love of God and people is undeniable. As always, he is eloquent and thoughtful with his approach to the difficult work he has undertaken.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review forthcoming.
megan baggins
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
But we all have a role to play, especially those of us who in our whiteness have a sanctuary from the ugliness of racism.

This book has 191 pages. I have 30+ highlights. I think that says enough, but just in case it doesn't --


There are books I like, there are books I love, and there are books I need. The books I need tend to have something to say to me as an individual but also my cultural and societal upbringing. I love books about England and books about dragons but I don't need them. I nee
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, netgalley
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is an important book to read. You might not agree 100% with what Lee believes, but you cannot argue with his perspective. Lee does have insight into southern ideology and history. Lee does provide a lineage that , if nothing else, gives him unique positioning during the current political debates surrounding the Confederate monuments across the south. His lineage does not validate his position more than another pe
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, race
An interesting story, but a tad preachy. I had hoped for more personal stories. I did find it interesting to hear that as a kid Robert Lee wanted a postcard of his namesake and a Confederate flag to decorate his room. This seemed natural for a child of the South who's related to the man. What I found disturbing was that his parents never commented on his choice. Later in his life when he talks to his folks about this incident they explain that they felt very uncomfortable with his purchases, but ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Robert W. Lee was a young, newly minted pastor when his family connection to Robert E. Lee brought a spotlight to him, and he became a passionate spokesperson for race relations and the end to the glorification of the confederacy. Unfortunately, his church voted him out for his views, but he was unbowed. This fascinating book tells his story, and calls us to do our part in building bridges instead of walls. Highly recommended.
J.D. DeHart
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Robert W. Lee writes with a clarity and honesty that is not at all common in most of my nonfiction reading. A Sin by Any Other Name treats on important and relevant topics and does so in a way that is compelling and clearly written.
Brent McCulley
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Pastor Rob’s story is incredible, and his devotion and commitment to fighting for racial justice so that God’s Grace can permeate the darkness can be seen through this memoir. If you don’t know his story, pick up this book. It’s worth the read.
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian
When I first heard about this book I was interested, but I wasn't familiar with Robert W. Lee and his speaking out against white supremacy as a descendant of the Civil War general Robert E. Lee. Lee talks about growing up in Statesville, NC (which is only about an hour from where I grew up) and how as was age-appropriate his family told him about his famous ancestor. Lee's family didn't idolize General Lee, but his grandmother did have a portrait of him in her home and often told Lee and his bro ...more
Erin Isgett
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick, important read from a fellow North Carolinian and a descendant of General Robert E. Lee. He is young and hungry to follow the will of God and the example of Jesus.

“We have a choice. We can remain bystanders, complicit in our silence, or we can seek to be agents and effectors of change.

Plenty of well-meaning people have come to me after a sermon and said, ‘I just don’t know if I can do it by myself; I don’t know if it’s worth it to stir the pot.’

These are heartbreaking sentiments. There’
Bill Hooten
Robert W. Lee, IV was given a platform, to speak about something that was meaningful to him, because of his name (and his claim to be a descendant 0f General Robert E. Lee). Now, I do not intend to insinuate that he is NOT descended from the former Confederate General; I don't know, and it does not matter to me (but, Lee is a common name in the south). He did take advantage of that platform, and I am glad that he did. Things that he says are important for people to hear, whatever your opinion mi ...more
Jason Keel
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Robert W. Lee is a brave man. After speaking about the need for racial reconciliation on several national platforms this young pastor was compelled to resign from his pastorate due to the backlash it caused in his community. In many ways this memoir of growing up in the South mirrors my own journey. Lee's faith journey and study of Jesus' teachings caused him to crash up against the latent, and some overt, racism in the South. Yet, Lee's love for the Lord and his homeland shines through every pa ...more
Rebekah Davis
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: race
I originally requested a copy of this book from NetGalley to use for my thesis, in which I'm looking at racial identification in Southern news articles, hoping that it would be able to provide some clarity to current racial tensions. While I appreciated Lee's honest, candid sharing of his experiences, I was a little disappointed that only maybe the first third of the book talked about his experiences with racism. Beyond that, it was about the drama with his church as he called out white supremac ...more
Aug 12, 2020 added it
I question the Reverend's relationship to Robert Edward Lee and therefore would not recommend his book until he can provide proof to RE Lee.

I do not believe the Rev. Robert "Wright" Lee is related to the Lee's of Virginia and specifically not to RE Lee. Since 2017 Rev. Lee has presented himself as a 4th great nephew and that his 4th great uncle was the eldest brother of RE Lee, that being Charles Carter Lee. But Charles Carter Lee did not have a son that matches Rev. Lee's family.

Here are the f
Julia Lyon
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick but heartening read, A Sin By Any Other Name is lovely and uplifting albeit light. I was disappointed by the shallow level of analysis considering although a memoir, Lee aimed to tackle the complexities of contemporary Christianity, Southern heritage, race, and post-slavery justice. On the one hand, Lee's sincerity and beautiful spirituality jump off every page, but despite his unfailing earnestness and his strong language, the wholeness of the message feels unrealized. On the other hand ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A short book by a descendant and namesake of General Robert E. Lee that takes an honest look at the strengths and the challenges facing the South as a result of its history, this book was outstanding. Lee takes on hard issue after hard issue (language, the Confederate flag, statues and memorials, his family’s relationship with the household help, and more) while holding tight to the virtues of his native land (faith, community, hospitality, natural beauty). He is able to speak to the benefits th ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have decided to read this book and support the author. I am glad for a breath of fresh air to hear people like Reverend Lee who has paid a price for calling out White Christian America for its continuous support of Racism. I have been disappointed for the silence of the majority of White Christians for not calling out Racism especially in the climate that this nation is in at this time.

The discussion is long overdue and time. I cannot understand why White Christians still support symbols of R
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
I feel sure Lee is sincere in his battle against racism and thought his book was well written. I did have a few issues with it, though.

He infers that the south is the only region of the country that has a problem with racism even though he tells of an encounter he had in New Jersey. Current events tell us this is a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed.

A lot of Lee’s identity seems to be tied to the fact that he’s distantly related to Confederate General Robert E. Lee and that relation
While much of the racism in the news today focuses on unconscious bias, where good people unintentionally do things that hurt others, or look the other way and excuse those who do, this book is about a different aspect, openly talked about in the south and growing among other groups and on the internet. This is the history some people talk about in southern states focusing on the motives and honor of the peoples in the civil war. This is one man's story of his connection to that viewpoint, his e ...more
Dennis Campbell
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, nook
The rich, young ruler asked Jesus “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus responded “keep the commandments.” To which the ruler replied “I am already doing that. “ Jesus then said Give everything you have to the poor. Take up your cross, and follow Me. The Bible says that he went away sorrowful, because he possessed much. This book admonishes me to not be happy just keeping the commandments, but to acknowledge the burden of racism in the past and in the here-and-now, and to be more active in reconci ...more
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