Friday, July 13, 2007

April 1865

If you would be interested in a fascinating book on the end and aftermath of the American Civil War, be sure to check out Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month That Saved America.

Beautifully written, the book contains compelling portraits of Lincoln, Grant, and Lee and the leadership skills of each. An excerpt:

At the military academy, Grant discovered that a clerk had mistakenly written down his name as "Ulysses Simpson Grant," and instead of insisting on a correction, the insecure Grant just shrugged his shoulders and submissively accepted it as his own. He was an unremarkable cadet ("a military life holds no charms for me," he lamented, "and I had not the faintest idea of staying in the army even if I should be graduated, which I didn't expect"), who read romantic novels rather than study hard, could never quite keep in step with the rhythm of marching or compare with the stylish demeanor of the more refined Eastern and Southern boys, and actually prayed that a resolution introduced in Congress to abolish West Point would pass. Contrary to his worst fears, though, he did graduate, but only a lackluster twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine, and he later failed to get the cavalry duty he so argently wanted.

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