Sunday, September 7, 2008

Book Review: Reading The Man

Reading The Man: Portrait of Robert E Lee through his private letters
by Elizabeth Brown Pryor

Friday afternoon, I sat, the youngest in the room, a member of the local book club, ready to give my first book review to the group of 20 or so women; all of whom are well read, articulate, and formidable. Was I nervous? You bet I was...

Quietly they sat as I told about the story Elizabeth Brown Pryor crafted about the amazing life of Robert E Lee. The book truly moved me to tears as I read. In the retelling, I did indeed get choked up more than a time.

The War of Northern Aggression began and ended as a war against Lee and his family by his former West Point school mates, as well as by former military brethren, who showed no mercy for a man they called traitor.

The Civil War was crushing to the common people on both sides. Few, if any families weren't touched deeply to the heart by the bloodshed of the war. Burn and starve tactics are always a way for war to show it's ugly face against civilians, in spite of what any General might say. The North sought to crush the families of the South.

What interests me about history are the details about life in another time and place. I wonder how can their lessons teach me about people, about that time and this, about life...

My interest in this particular story was the story of Mrs. Lee, her life, the children of this most famous or infamous man... what did they endure... how did they live... what legacy was left to the family of this much-loved, much-lived, much-hated man?

Mrs. Lee was the grand-daughter of Martha Washington. In her care were the Washington artifacts, legacy to her family but also, and she was quite well aware, legacy of the country. The Lee family of Virginia honored their ancestory of great Rebels of the Revolution, including Light-Horse Harry.

By the end of my report, some of the ladies also had tears in their eyes... it was a great story to tell... and the ladies were so kind to me afterwards, I felt honored to be part of their group.

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