December 11, 2013
9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: As Charles Bracelen Flood makes perfectly clear in this engaging book, the Union would have lost the war had it not been for the professional and personal relationship between Ulysses S. Grant, the Union army’s general in chief, and William Tecumseh Sherman, his subordinate. From the very start of this book, the reader follows these men as they lead their armies to victory in both theaters of the war, east and west. Flood’s writing is fluid and compelling: He does not get caught in the trap of telling one man’s story and then the other, chapter by chapter, like a pendulum in a grandfather clock — first tick (Grant), then tock (Sherman). Instead, the author blends his account of the two generals into a perfect whole and makes us feel, page after page, that we are in the presence of these great soldiers, marching off to war or sitting by a campfire with them. There is probably no better book that explains precisely how the Union, guided by these two brilliant officers, won the Civil War.
December 11, 2013
3 // TODD: As someone who mastered the art of storytelling, I imagine you are a connoisseur of other fine writings and engaging narratives about the Revolution. What books (written by others) do you most recommend to fellow American Revolution history buffs?
TOM: The First Year of the American Revolution by Allen French — still a tour de force. The War for America by Piers Mackesy — a superb account of the British viewpoint. Private Yankee Doodle, the memoirs of Joseph Plumb Martin – the best account of the war from the bottom up. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind by Merrill Petersen — a crucial perspective on the Revolution’s most complex character. Fame and the Founding Fathers by Douglas Adair. This is the title of the lead essay in this book. It provides a huge insight into a subject that most 21st Century Americans don’t understand. Party Politics in the Continental Congress by H. James Henderson — a forgotten masterpiece on a subject that has escaped too many people. Rise and Fight Again by Charles Bracelen Flood – a great account of how we survived shattering defeats. The chapter on the debacle of the Penobscot Expedition to Maine is alone worth the price. Lt. Col Paul Revere wound up under house arrest, accused of disobedience and cowardice.