Friday, April 22, 2016

Booknotes: Lincoln's Generals' Wives

New Arrival:
Lincoln's Generals' Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War for Better and for Worse by Candice Shy Hooper (Kent St Univ Pr, 2016).

In this book, Hooper takes an in depth look at the lives and impact of Julia Grant, Ellen Sherman, Jessie Benton Fremont, and Mary Ellen Marcy McClellan on history and the careers of their husbands. The four selections could scarcely be improved upon. The following section of the book description hints at the author's "take" on each:
"The approaches and styles of Frémont and McClellan contrast with those of Sherman and Grant, and there is equal symmetry in their wives stories. Jessie Frémont and Nelly McClellan both encouraged their husbands to persist in their arrogance and delusion and to reject the advice and friendship of their commander in chief. In the end, Jessie and Nelly contributed most to the Union war effort by accelerating their husbands removal from active command. Conversely, while Ellen Sherman's and Julia Grant's belief in their husbands character and potential was ardent, it was not unbounded. Ellen and Julia did not hesitate to take issue with their spouses when they believed their actions were wrong or their judgments ill-advised. They intelligently supported their husbands best instincts including trust in and admiration for Lincoln and re-buffed their worst. They were the source of strength that Sherman and Grant used to win the Civil War."
An interview with the author is in the works, hopefully appearing here within a couple weeks.

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