Articles

The Best Books About Robert E. Lee

Posted 7/30/2020 By The Civil War Monitor

We recently asked a number of top Civil War historians to let us know their favorite books about Robert E. Lee. The results are below. The books are ranked in order of popularity and accompanied by selected explanations from our panelists. 

 

1. Reading the Man by Elizabeth Brown Pryor (30%) 

“Exceptional research, beautiful prose, and judicious analysis makes Elizabeth Pryor’s Reading the Man an incomparable biography of General Lee.”
Peter Carmichael

“Pryor’s book is a non-traditional excursion across Lee’s life viewed through fresh eyes.”
Brooks D. Simpson

 

2. Robert E. Lee: A Biography by Emory M. Thomas (20%) 

“It’s the best all-around treatment of Lee.”
Allen C. Guelzo

“It is nuanced and judicious, and offers insights into Lee’s military thinking, political dilemmas, and interior life, while also acknowledging that Lee remains elusive and paradoxical.”
Elizabeth Varon

 

T-3. The Marble Man by Thomas L. Connelly (15%) 

“Connelly’s book was the first I read that pulled Lee off his pedestal and treated him as a mortal man—someone to be understood and even respected rather than worshiped.”
Gregory Urwin

 

T-3. Lee’s Lieutenants by Douglas S. Freeman (15%)    

“The most detailed and convincing portrait of Lee as
a man and military leader.”
Mark Grimsley

 

 

5. Lee the Soldier by Gary W. Gallagher (10%) 

“This combination of contemporary and modern analysis of Lee’s generalship provides the most comprehensive summary of the great Confederate commander ever assembled between two covers.”
A. Wilson Greene

 

 

Other Selected Books:

The Wartime Papers of R.E. Lee ed. by Clifford Dowdey and Louis H. Manarin (5%)
Robert E. Lee and the Road of Honor by Hodding Carter (5%)

 

 

This information appeared in the Monitor's special issue Grant vs Lee.

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