Brian Eshleman's Reviews > Lee The Last Years

Lee The Last Years by Charles Bracelen Flood
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's review
Dec 10, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, biography
Read 2 times. Last read March 16, 2017 to March 17, 2017.

I thought I'd like this book, but I was unprepared for how moving it was. At 14 or 16, Lee was my ideal. Coming back to him after almost a quarter century without any life or death campaigns to my credit and with more awareness of how extraordinary his self-discipline was and how ordinary mine is, this could have been a melancholy experience. But it wasn't.

The limited scope of Flood's portrait focusing on Lee's last five years allows him to zoom in intimately for real-life detail and texture. The legendary General comes across as a genuine human being with his own struggles, warmth, and frailty. I even discovered that I haven't developed as far from my adolescent hero as I thought, as my passion to counsel college students is very close to what engaged Lee at his heart in his post-war career. This chapter may be brief and less famous than his battlefield exploits, but the author is convincing in portraying that Lee was passionate about what he did at the tiny college. For instance, as his health weakened, the college trustees knew that they had to place limits on the hours in which students could see Lee because he would not enforce these limits himself. I could very much see myself in this.

Lee's health was actually something I learned a lot about in this book. I always pictured him as the perfect physical specimen, handsome and strong until his dying day any particular contrast to my lifelong physical limitations. The author is convinced that Lee suffered an undiagnosed heart attack during the war, and he is painstaking in his description of the pain and weakness Lee experienced throughout his triumphant career as an education administrator. In his last days, one can hardly avoid being moved by the proud and self-possessed former officer barely able to speak but still carrying himself the same comportment and dignity that carried him through testimony before the Radical Republicans who tried to use his unbending testimony to further punish the South.
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Quotes Brian Liked

“In rural and struggling Lexington, Virginia, Lee's new postwar home, one writer joked darkly dollars were so scarce that they had to be introduced to one another when they met on Main Street.”
Charles Bracelen Flood, Lee The Last Years

“The war had made some into libertines and some into serious, sober men.”
Charles Bracelen Flood, Lee The Last Years

“His special gift was the ability to see the essence of a worthwhile suggestion and to relate it to what was already in existence or planned. Then he would encourage and shape the new project, repeatedly redesigning the curriculum so that a new department or course could have a comfortable place in which to grow and offer it benefits.”
Charles Bracelen Flood, Lee The Last Years

“Death seemed to lose its terrors and to borrow a grace and dignity in sublime keeping with the life that was ebbing away.”
Charles Bracelen Flood, Lee The Last Years

Reading Progress

December 10, 2011 – Shelved
December 10, 2011 – Shelved as: biography
December 10, 2011 – Shelved as: history
February 20, 2012 – Started Reading
February 20, 2012 –
page 100
29.76% "Also comments that Brady's photograph, perhaps the one on the cover, shows Lee defeated but still with the fire of war in his eyes."
February 21, 2012 –
page 170
50.6% "Compelling. I was amazed by Lee squaring off with the Congressional committee of Radical Republicans."
February 21, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "I'll be darned! 38 months after Appomattox, and the New York Herald wanted Lee to run against Grant for Pres of the US."
February 22, 2012 – Finished Reading
March 16, 2017 – Started Reading
March 17, 2017 –
20.0% "To justify the deaths of 360,000 Union soldiers, who had ended in the war to end slavery, Northerners wanted to think of blacks as manacled saints who wanted only a few days' vacation after centuries of slavery and would respect the property of those who had held them in bondage for generations.

Speaks volumes to race relations AND to the usually gradual assumption of new identity in Christ."
March 17, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Brian Eshleman Ben,

Thanks for the feedback. This was my first purchase from, and even as a lifelong cheapskate who will usually get books from the library, I have to admit it was worth it.

If you are interested, I could give you the information to access my account and to be able to read this book. I don't want to cause anyone to stumble, but I don't see such an action any differently than giving you the keys to my house, God's house in any case, so you can get a book on my bookshelf.

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