Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War by James McPherson


Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War 
By James M. McPherson 
2015, Penguin Books


Embattled Rebel is another enjoyable book I have recently read. It is a quick read and, like most of James McPherson's books , has a good, smooth flow that makes it a pleasant and easy book to read. 

It is not a long book. One of the blurbs on the back cover calls it "concise," and that is an apt description. It is not a full biography of Davis or a detailed retelling of the war, but, rather, a quick look at Davis' performance as Confederate President.

It does a fine job of providing a balanced look at Davis' performance, his strengths, his flaws and the many challenges he faces. Overall, I thought it tended to be mostly sympathetic to Davis, but it did describe some of his failings such as his poor health, his inability or refusal to delegate work, his insistence on handling detailed paperwork and the poor relationships he had with some Confederate political and military officials.

On the other hand, he had a tremendous work ethic, plenty of military knowledge and experience and was extremely devoted to "the cause." People criticized his decisions or personality, but not his devotion to the Confederacy.

I read the paperback version of the book and one thing I found interesting about it was the cover. The top of the book cover featured McPherson's name, with the book title at the bottom of the page. McPherson's name is also in slightly larger font than the book title. I found this apparent emphasis on the author over the title to be an interesting approach. I have not noticed this on any other book I've read. 

Embattled Rebel is a fine book about one of the key figures of the Civil War. It is a quick, easy read, with a balanced view of its subject. It is a good, pleasant read and a fine addition to my bookshelf. 

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