Few events have captivated students of American history like the Civil War. Its most striking personalities seem somehow outsized, magnified beyond the ability of books or even legend to contain them. And few among those personalities have ever held our attention like General Robert Edward Lee.
With his Army of Northern Virginia, Lee came to embody the cause of the Confederacy itself, inspiring a commitment from troops and civilians that eventually overshadowed even those given to its political leaders and institutions.
This riveting series of 24 lectures from one of the nation's most respected Civil War historians explains how this came to pass, and how - in a war that produced no other successful Confederate armies - this amazing leader was able to create and inspire an army whose achievements resonated not only across the Confederacy but also throughout the North and in foreign capitals like London and Paris.
You'll learn what Lee was actually like, and gain insights into his ideas about strategy and tactics. You'll grasp how battlefield events influenced public opinion on the home fronts of both the Union and the Confederacy. And, most of all, you'll grasp how crucial Lee's choices in forming his high command were to the war's events and outcome.
These lectures have been designed to appeal to everyone who wants to understand more about the Civil War and why it unfolded as it did, whether your interest is in the strategy and tactics underlying its major battles or in the broader context within which those battles took place.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
Professor Gary Gallagher (a very highly decorated, nationally renown history professor at the University of Virginia) delivers a fast-paced review of Robert E Lee, Confederate principal generals, fast rising young generals and context miliary leadership in the Confederacy. Each bio is carefully presented with both strengths, flaws and outstanding performances coupled with failures. Dr. Gallagher turns these historical figures into real people. His perspective is particularly insightful in that he points out that virtually all Civil War Generals were essentially untrained and unready for their responsibilities. Many succeeded at a lower level and then failed with promotion to wider commands. Few truly met the measure of what was needed. The overwhelming number of deaths and wounding of Southern key generals made rapid replacement with overwhelmed promoted subordinates a recurring issue.
This lecture series gives you context on the literature of the Civil War, wonderful biographies and a blazing pathway through the campaigns. Professor Gallagher has a pleasant, interesting and engaging voice. He delivers his lectures with a fast pace, understandable and with interesting vocal emphasis. He does not get lost in jargon. I found this series of lectures immensely entertaining as well as informative. Each general is either a lecture or two or three (Lee). Some generals were so interesting I found myself listening to their lecture over and over. I highly recommend this lecture series for someone interested in the Civil War, regardless of prior background and study. This series brings these Confederate generals to life.
I have enjoyed several offerings of the Great Courses Lectures on Historical events and this was one of the more interesting ones.
Professor Gallagher has done an excellent job in detailing all of these interesting leaders within Lee’s high command. I especially like the balance he utilizes in showing both the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. With very few exceptions the assessments are even handed, although there are one or two officers that his take seems to be more of a personal like or dislike than one of looking simply at the facts. A few things in the book really stuck out – first was the incredible attrition rate of the officers in the Army of Northern Virginia due to deaths/wounding in battle. There were rarely back to back battles in which the same command structure was actually in place, other than Lee himself. There was a constant need to reshuffle leadership following the engagements. Another interesting analogy made by Professor Gallagher was his comparison of Lee’s role with that of Dwight Eisenhower, who also had to deal with strong, aggressive and competitive personalities of subordinates such as Patton and Montgomery, with Lee that role was even a greater necessity as a large number of his Senior Leaders seemed to stay in perpetual conflict with each other. On numerous occasions there were officers arresting other officers for what seemed to be more out of a competition than any real military error. Lastly, it was really amazing to see how successful many of the officers were at one level, then as they gained rank they become ineffectual or only marginally successful – the Peter Principle.
If you are interested in the make-up of the officers in the book then you will really find the book interesting. I will say though, if you are more interested in details of their actions taken in famous battles; this book may not be what you would be looking for. The Battles are only described in the most general of terms.
This is only the third audiobook Ive given 5 / 5 / 5 stars to
A tremendous lecture series presented by Prof. Gallagher. The professor does such a great job presenting this course to us that no maps are necessary as you need for so many other military works. Each general is presented with both his strengths and faults not only individually but how each general inter reacted with each other and how this affected the total picture
On a personal note Id have liked to hear about Nathen Bedford Forrest
Buy this series
"Seen from abroad."
Profound, dispassionate, engaging.
The course is didactic without being pedantic.
His clear and obvious enthusiasm for his subject.
No, because one needs time to consider and digest each lecture.
The Civil War continues to divide the United States and Prof. Gallagher is American, therefore attuned and involved in the continuing debate. To foreigners the debate is much more clear cut, the Civil War was the true American Revolution.
Lee is seen abroad as a great captain, no doubt about that, but one with feet of clay and Gallagher sees him in the soft focus that is commonplace in the US. However, he is generous to Longstreet which is nice to hear.
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