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Publisher's Summary

An intimate biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest, arguably the most interesting figure to emerge from the Civil War - widely admired as a military genius.

At 14 he became the head of his impoverished family, responsible for feeding 11 on the rough American frontier. By 39 he had established himself as a successful plantation owner worth over $1 million. And at 40 years old, Nathan Bedford Forrest enlisted in a Tennessee cavalry regiment - and became a controversial Civil War legend.

The legacy of General Nathan Bedford Forrest is deeply divisive. Best known for being accused of war crimes at the Battle of Fort Pillow and for his role as first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan - an organization he later denounced - Forrest has often been studied as a military figure, but never before studied as a fascinating individual who wrestled with the complex issues of his violent times. Bust Hell Wide Open is a comprehensive portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest as a man: his achievements, failings, reflections, and regrets.

©2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2016 Samuel W. Mitcham Jr.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Outstanding

Would you listen to Bust Hell Wide Open again? Why?

Yes if I forgot it

Any additional comments?

This book draws you in quickly, it's one of the best narrated audiobooks I've listened to, the reader is outstanding. The author is outstanding, he really knows how to draw you in and keep you listening. I can't get enough of it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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This is a superb and concise biography

Of a man most incredibly and unjustly maligned by history. A titan of American history who embodies all the characteristics of western civilization mythological heroes: Courage, tenacity, fortitude, honor compassion, mercy and, Yes, racial enlightenment. Effusive praise? Indeed! And if the courage of General Forest could be exceeded, then the author has done so by bravely ignoring the petty, malevolent Shibboleths of political correctness - presenting the listener with a well researched and exacting work that destroys the hysteria of those who only wish to embrace both fake news and fake history. Highly recommended.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • GK
  • 07-03-18

Unexpected gem

Hey wonderful biography. It is well paced, informative, and tight. It will give you a new perspective on both the south, and it’s reconstruction. Simply a great listen.

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Outstanding!

Very surprised by this book. The writing, the subject and the narration hooked me. Fast-paced, interesting, and revealing. I learned a lot. This book changed my perspective on Nathan Bedford Forest for the better. What a genius! Highly recommended!

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What a life

This man went from poverty to riches to eminent, maybe the best, battlefield commander of the war back to poverty. But it’s the arch of a man not a caricature. It’s easy enough to get a negative view of this man in the current culture. I wanted to hear a different perspective. My conclusion is that he was a man of exceeding military talent who fought hard and accepted the outcome of the war. His story is appealing in a credential obsessed world in which natural ability was undeniable.

The performance did have a couple of glitches in which some lines repeated in about 4 places.

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  • Jugg
  • Menifee, CA, United States
  • 04-30-18

The Greatest Cavalry General?

An excellent and lively reconstruction of Forrest's life and accomplishments. Well researched, superbly written and exquisitely narrated. Mitcham draws a profile of one of The Civil War's greatest leaders and most charismatic personalities.

Highly recommended.

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  • Paul C
  • Lexington, South Carolina
  • 04-26-18

Best Bio I’ve read on NBF

What this book does that’s superior to other books I’ve read on the man is that it focuses ON THE MAN—his humanity, manifested its complexity—and how he interacted with the time and place he occupied. His battles are certainly covered as they have been elsewhere, but in this book a 3D character arises from the narrative. The book is neither sensational or sentimental. A very fine balance has been achieved by the author, in my humble opinion...

Memphis should be ashamed of how they have besmirched his name (and desecrated his grave!), but it is not really any different from many inflammatory things said about him in his own time, not just by Yankees (who didn’t know any better), but even by some of his former comrades (who did know better).

I feel I’m a little better for having spent time with him via this production.

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Enlightenment for the reader

This book delivers a eye opening and a much needed clear view of a man that so many falsehoods have been written and spoken by those who had no idea of the history of the man and the civil war. I have always admired the man as a hero of the South but had no idea of the many particulars of his deeds and feats that he performed In The service of his country and convictions of his person . I will read this book Again after this has sank in my grey matter and I’m confident that I will enjoy it as much if not more the second reading as the first . I urge anyone even slightly curious about the civil war and the man to read this book . You will come away with a great respect and admiration for Nathan Bedford Forrest and clearer picture of the post war South .

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More About the Legend than the History

I listened to a book on Sherman just before this one. It was loaded with history and facts. I was hoping for the same here. This one is more about the legends of Forrest. Much of the book quotes the fawning praise of his soldiers and contemporaries but there is no real critical insight. I felt like I didn't really get to learn about the history of Forrest's life and times through this book. Also, I was hoping to learn more about his postwar life but that was all of 1-2 chapters and most of it explaining how he quit being .a racist. I did not care for this.

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A true account of the man.

So much myth rides with Forrest, it's refreshing to have a true account of his time during and after the war. This book borders on hero worship at times, but does not stray from accuracy of fact. Many listeners will be surprised at his role with the blacks and the KKK.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-30-17

Wizardry in many saddles

This is a really interesting look at the life of a controversial figure from the US civil war. While he must have been difficult to be around, this review is certainly one you’ll want to keep with you for a long time.

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  • pg33
  • 07-29-17

A fair & authentic portrait of CSA's best general<br />

A well written book. Highly recommended for anyone interested in authentic historic accounts rather than the usual modern day demonization of the South and of the brave men who fought and died in defense of their homeland. Bedford Forrest, the Wizard of the Saddle, was probably the greatest of the generals on either side of the war, and this book is a good introduction into both his military genius and his character.