Thursday, June 1, 2017

Booknotes: The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee

New Arrival:
The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee by R. David Cox (Eerdmans, 2017).

Eerdmans is a specialty press for scholarly religious studies and The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee is part of their Library of Religious Biography series. Innumerable books and articles have commented on the role Christian faith played in Lee's life, but it is the primary focus of this full length biography. In it, author R. David Cox "shows how Lee's Christian faith shaped his crucial role in some of the most pivotal events in American history."

More from the description: "Delving into family letters and other primary sources—some of them newly discovered—Cox traces the lifelong development of Lee's convictions and how they influenced his decisions to stand with Virginia over against the Union and later to support reconciliation and reconstruction in the years after the Civil War. Faith was central to Lee's character, Cox argues—so central that it directed and redirected his life, especially in the aftermath of defeat."

Chapters cover Anglicanism in Virginia, the role of faith in Lee's household and extended family, the influence of William Meade (the Episcopal third bishop of Virginia) on Lee, faith's place at each stage of Lee's military career (antebellum and Civil War), Lee's confirmation, Lee on slavery, Lee's decision to resign from the U.S. Army, Lee's post-Civil War redirection toward peace and reconciliation, and more. It's a select bibliography so it's hard to get a solid first impression of the research, but it appears the author waded fairly deeply into the Lee family archives.

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