R.E. Lee: A Biography
By: Douglas Southall Freeman
Charles Scibner's Sons, 1934
I will not deny that I was dreading this read, but I am happy to say that Freeman's biography of Robert E. Lee was one of the most enjoyable early-Pulitzer biographies that I have read. I had to get the 4-volume set through interlibrary loan and, so, had only a very limited time with it. I managed to get through 2 of the volumes before the due date and was truly sad that I had to turn it in before I could finish the other two.
In the introduction to the biography, Freeman notes that he tried to write this biography of Lee focusing only on the things that Lee would have been aware of at the time. Many books on the Civil War try to cover what was going on on both sides at the same time, and I am left endlessly confused (I ran into this problem with Battle Cry of Freedom, my next review). By focusing on Lee's view of the war, I found it much easier to follow what was going on. I like following one side at a time so that I can really get to know the characters involved. Another thing that helped me follow the battles was the fact that almost all of the ones described in the first two volumes took place in Virginia, where I currently live. I have been many of the areas where Lee fought, and that helped me visualize what was going on. I would be curious to see how the focus on Virginia would read to someone unfamiliar with the state.