This book paints a vivid picture of Jefferson Davis as a multifaceted, often charismatic man who mirrored the turbulent times in which he lived and who stood solidly for the South that he loved. Ranging over the complete span of his long life, it shows him as a hardworking Mississippi planter, a compassionate slave owner, a hero of the Mexican War, and an able secretary of war under Franklin Pierce. But it is on the years of the Civil War and Davis’s controversial performance as president of the Confederacy that the book naturally focuses.
Loved by many for his eloquence, courage, loyalty, and devotion, he was vilified by many more for his well-known obstinacy and vanity, his feuds with his best commanders, and his unwillingness to delegate responsibility to others. Judicious, balanced, compassionate, Jefferson Davis is an enthralling account of a remarkable man.
©1991 William C. Davis (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I've read a ton of Civil War books so I was already very familiar with Davis but wanted something that just focused on him and in particular the post-Civil War period, this book works nicely for that, although I would have liked a more in-depth look at his later life. The first half of the book gets you to the Civil War, then the Civil War takes up probably 2/3rds of the 2nd half of the book. The pacing in the book is quite good and I never found the book to get dull or bogged down on trivial matters. The author does a good job of staying neutral for the most part. Overall this is an excellent addition for Civil War buffs or people that just want to know more about the South or Davis himself. I personally think it would make an excellent counterpart to anyone reading biographies on Lincoln to give a more well balanced view of his Presidency.
As for the reader I have mixed feelings, at the beginning of the book it really seems rushed -- but either I got used to it or he slowed down since about 1/3rd of the way into the book it no longer bothered me. Overall he does a good job, it's a straight read but appropriate for the content.
A detailed account of Davis the man and Davis the soldier/politician. Portrays in a balanced way the man's strengths and flaws and creates a sympathetic portrait. The author nicely illustrates how this flawed man came to embody a flawed and ultimately doomed cause. Readable for anyone but will definitely appeal to civil war buffs.
I am really tired of seeing this dedicated and modest man being treated as a second-rater or as laboratory contagion to be contained. He was one of the finest statesmen of the 19th century. Perhaps he was too ethereally religious, perhaps he stood too much on principle, perhaps he was, in modern parlance, a micromanager. Still, most of his contemporaries are no more than midway hucksters when they get put against Jefferson Davis.
William C. Davis really could have praised him a little more, given him his due. What he does is place him somewhere in the Pantheon between Winfield Scott and Franklin Pierce.
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