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Publisher's Summary

A dual biography of two iconic leaders: how they fought a bloody, brutal war then forged a lasting peace that fundamentally changed our nation.

They met in person only four times, yet these two men determined the outcome of the Civil War and cast competing styles for the reunited nation. Each the subject of innumerable biographies, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee have never before been paired as they are here.

Exploring their personalities, their character, and their ethical, moral, political, and military worlds, William C. Davis finds surprising similarities between the two men as well as new perspectives on how their lives prepared them for the war they fought and influenced how they fought it. Davis reveals Lee's sense of failure before the war, Grant's optimism during disaster, and the sophisticated social and political instincts that each had when waging a war between democracies.

©2015 William C. Davis (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Orson
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 02-24-15

Plutarch looks at Grant and Lee ...

If you could sum up Crucible of Command in three words, what would they be?

Grant, Lee, Parallel

What other book might you compare Crucible of Command to and why?

Davis follows the approach of Plutarch's classic "Lives". While he skips a vast amount of biographical material, he does show important similarities and differences in the upbringing, training, early military experience, and eventual command styles and grasp of strategy and tactics of the two great Civil War commanders.

What about Traber Burns’s performance did you like?

Burns's reading was expressive, moved along at a good clip, and was always clear. History should always be read like this.

Any additional comments?

When you write about figures as prominent and often-written-about as Lee and Grant, you have to bring something new to the discussion, and Davis does exactly that. Of course, some will be outraged that Davis is not worshipful to Lee (the normal treatment) but instead measures his mistakes against Grant's, and shows ways in which Grant's command style was more effective than Lee's. Davis admires what is admirable about both men, and deals candidly with their flaws. An excellent addition to military history and to Civil War evaluation.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book!

Very interesting study in the dichotomy of the Civil War's two most famous generals. Focuses less on the battles and tactics than on the respective personalities.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Read many books on Lee

This reading was extremely detailed and provided a much more inside view of the men than i have read before. Most of it based on the men's writings.... It gave no preference to either man's character or accomplishments.... The author expressed his opinion at times but it was always back with facts.... Good book if you are into this war....

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unbiased and refreshing

Who was your favorite character and why?

Grant

Which character – as performed by Traber Burns – was your favorite?

Lee, I feel he did well changing his accent

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The death of Lee

Any additional comments?

Unbiased writing about the two which is hard to find in Civil War studies.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Historic Masterpiece

Where does Crucible of Command rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Ranks at the top.

What did you like best about this story?

This story follows the history of the period very well and gives an intèresting personal insight into both men's personality.

What does Traber Burns bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Smoothness

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Very interesting book, and very well done.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Author fails to peel back the layers.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I purchased this book because I’ve studied the southern generals of the Civil War and I thought this would be a good bridge into the northern subject matter. I have read a few books and listened to three biographies in which General Lee was a pivotal character. Based on the author's portrayal of Lee I am confident Grant's story leaves much to be desired. Your time would be much better spent studying one man at a time.

What do you think your next listen will be?

My next book will be about General Grant.

Which character – as performed by Traber Burns – was your favorite?

Traber Burns gives a subtle performance and I would not shy away from listening to one of his other narrations.

Any additional comments?

Clouds of Glory by Michael Korda is a great listen.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Bitti
  • Spring City, TN
  • 02-24-17

outstanding read

I look at these two historic figures in a much different light after listening to this book. The only negative from the audio version is the lack of maps to help understand the logistics b of the battles.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good retelling

I enjoyed the retelling of the stories of Grant and Lee and their leadership during the Civil War. I particularly enjoyed Davis' focus on how they stragetized their campaigns and how they handled their staffs. Davis' use of their correspondence gave us an intimate look at their personal struggles. A familiar story well told.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • Rowayton, CT, United States
  • 01-23-16

Fascinating comparison of 2 great men

Any additional comments?

A very long book, with more battle details than most readers will want, but worth working your way through to the insights on what made each successful. Both were, of course, outstanding leaders, able to inspire their armies and their countries. But Grant was the better manager, and the distinction was important to the results of the war.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • Lilburn, GA, United States
  • 04-25-18

Well done but...

The book was well done but some of the author’s opinions seemed based on thin evidence. He also acts as an apologist for both Grant and Lee’s faults.

I the k he could have spent more time on the run up to, and battle of Gettysburg. The same goes for Cold Harbor to the siege of Petersburg.