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Publisher's Summary

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.

What listeners say about Jefferson Davis

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A very good look at a misunderstood man

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Comprehensive

Any additional comments?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great work

It is a fast-paced read. Very thorough and balanced. It's great to get a glimpse at the man he was, not just what he did. Davis has many flaws, as everyone does. I came out of this knowing more about why and how he became the face of the confederacy.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Way too long!

The best part of the book was the last 5 hours. Everything before that was riddled with endless minutiae. I read a book on Robert E. Lee before this one on Davis and I can say without a doubt that Lee was a much better man. Davis just seemed like he would be obnoxious to be around. I’m glad it’s over!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Author's bias

The author's predetermined opinions biased his statements on the constitutional arguments raised by Jefferson Davis. The arguments are dismissed as incorrect rather than evaluated objectively.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Skip the audible version & read the book

The narration on this book is awful. The narrator speaks so fast that I had to check the setting to see if I accidentally changed the speed setting. I had not, but I soon did change it to the slowest setting, which was slightly better. I ended up abandoning the recording altogether and ordered a hard copy of the book. This purchase was an expensive mistake.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Overall, pretty good

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

Yes, Jefferson Davis is a man I knew about, through books on the Civil War and the Mexican war. This however was entirely about his lifetime and went into very good detail about it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I don't think the narrator detracted from the book, but the editing did. There are obvious breaks in the flow and several times it seems that the stop the recording when he's in the middle of a word or sentence and then start the next track without editing out the cut off word/sentence.

Was Jefferson Davis worth the listening time?

Yes

Any additional comments?

It is a very good biography. It's thorough, without being dry. While Davis is obviously the central figure of the book, it shows him for the person he was without being partisan. It's objective, which is important to me. I like the rhythm of the book which is very in depth at points, but it doesn't get boring. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in Jefferson Davis, the Civil War, American History or just trying to learn something new.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Could be more generous

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Honest Look at the man who would lead the South

The author highlights both Jefferson Davis' positive and negative attributes, and gives an honest look at who he was as a man. Stubborn, but resolved, he have everything he could, even in his faults, to build he was convinced was the right form of governance. I have a lot more respect for Davis because of this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A well-written and well-read biography of an important player in history

Very pleasantly surprised at the quality of writing and reading of this biography. I don’t think an understanding of the Civil War is possible without an understanding of Davis, his skillset, his personality, and his relationships with his generals and constituents.