Perhaps no other Union commander's reputation has been the subject of as much controversy as George B. McClellan's.
Thomas J. Rowland presents a framework in which early Civil War command can be viewed without direct comparison to that of the final two years. Such comparisons, in his opinion, are both unfair and contextually inaccurate. Only by understanding how very different was the context and nature of the war facing McClellan, as opposed to Grant and Sherman, can one discard the traditional "good general-bad general" approach to command performance. In such a light, McClellan's career, both his shortcomings and accomplishments, can be viewed with clearer perspective.
George McClellan almost universally gets a bad rap for his performance in the Civil War. The author argues that this is perhaps not entirely justified. He doesn't claim that he was a great general, just that if the same criteria are applied to the more celebrated generals a more balanced perspective can be gained. The book is perhaps overly redundant, but the point seems to be valid.
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Because of the controversy surrounding Gen. McClellan, I've been looking for an objective biography of him. Most accounts of him in other books are so vitriolic, it leaves you wondering how someone that appears to be traitorous could command for so long. So I wanted to experience a non-biased biography of his life. Unfortunately, this wasn't it. There are few details about the man himself that might give someone an image of him; perhaps the details are lost to time. The biggest problem is that the author spends so much time defending Gen. McClellan by making vitriolic condemnations of McClellan's contemporaries that you are almost hearing, "I know I am, but what are you?" throughout the book.
I appreciate Mr. Rowland's efforts; he obviously knows history, but this effort does little to improve someone's ability to discover whether McClellan was unfairly maligned or really was as bad as he is portrayed elsewhere.
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