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‘Clouds Of Glory’ And Robert E. Lee

Celebrated biographer Michael Korda brings us a deep new look at General Robert E. Lee.

Robert E. Lee, pictured here in 1863. (Heritage Auction Archives)

Robert E. Lee, pictured here in 1863. (Heritage Auction Archives)

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac from the nation’s capital.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and so many American soldiers’ remains famously rest on land that was the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  It’s fitting somehow.  Lee led the armies that would have divided the Union.  And yet in his personal nobility he became a point of reconciliation.  Symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern cause, and American icon.  A new biography brings us the southern general – and his complexity – once more.  This hour On Point:  Robert E. Lee.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Korda, writer, biographer and novelist. Author of the new book “Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.” Also author of “Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero” and “Ike: An American Hero.”

Gary Gallagher, professor of history at the University of Virginia. Author of “Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty,” “The Union War,” “Lee and His Army in Confederate History,” Lee and His Generals in War and Memory” and “The Confederate War.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Christian Science Monitor: Clouds of Glory — “In many ways, the gentlemanly and intensely patriotic Robert E. Lee was an unlikely champion of the Confederacy. He found the notion of secession ‘silly’ and dangerous, while fervently hoping that the union could be saved short of a war that he correctly believed would prove ruinous. Although he owned several slaves and in 1857 inherited dozens more from his father-in-law, he was not fond of the institution and was committed to freeing his human property in good time – which he did in 1862, beating Lincoln to the punch. Later, when the war was going badly for the South, he urged, in vain, that slaves be given the opportunity to fight for their freedom, in the Confederate States Army.”

Publishers Weekly: Books of the Week — “In this exhaustive study, Korda examines the life of Robert E. Lee from start to finish, illuminating not just the man, but his extended family and the society which produced him. While Korda’s treatment verges on hero worship, he explores Lee’s qualities and contradictions thoroughly, approaching him first and foremost as a state patriot, loyal to Virginia before any other cause.”

Inside Higher Ed: Debate Over Robert E. Lee at Washington And Lee U. — “Black law students at Washington and Lee University, under a new group called ‘The Committee,’ have asked Washington and Lee University to take a series of steps to address ‘the racist and dishonorable conduct of Robert E. Lee.’ Lee served as president of the university after the Civil War, and has historically been revered at the institution. ”

Read An Excerpt From “Clouds of Glory” By Michael Korda

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