A daily book review
FIERCE PATRIOT: THE TANGLED LIVES OF WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN by Robert L. O'Connell. On sale 07/01/2014
It has been said that you can't know a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Well, in the FIERCE PATRIOT the reader gets pretty darn close. Robert L. O'Connell (author of THE GHOSTS OF CANNAE) gives us a revisionist, 21st Century look at the famous general, William Sherman, who, it turns out, wasn't always a success in the military, or all that renowned. Sherman's life was so big that this biography is broken into three parts; The Military Strategist; The General and His Armies; The Man and His Families. Born Tecumseh Sherman and orphaned at an early age, Sherman's life was full of oddities and strange ironies. Named Tecumseh for a Native American warrior, Sherman would go on to slaughter and move whole tribes of Native Americans who he saw as an impediment to progress. Baptized and renamed William, Sherman promised to convert to Catholicism to marry Ellen Ewing and never fulfilled that promise. And, to him, it didn't matter that his wife was also his foster sister. Sherman seemed a part of many major American milestones. He was stationed in Florida at the time of its Statehood. In 1849 Sherman is a commanding officer in California as the Gold Rush takes hold and soldiers desert in droves. But, he and his family perceived him as a failure in the military, Sherman becomes a banker as the economy fails and he is forced to shut down banks and cover loans. The Civil War brings him back into service where, at first, he and Grant are seen as unmanageable and sent as far from D.C. as possible. Well, you know the rest of that story; Shiloh, Vicksburg and the March where Sherman created modern warfare by institutionalizing psychological terror into the fight. Lincoln loved Sherman and that saved his hide more times than he'd ever admit. Sherman ended the Civil War a famous, rich American. But, he didn't stop there, Sherman was the Manifest Destiny personified, who saw the building of the Transcontinental Railroad as the real union of The United States and the realization of the Constitution. Sherman died a bit of a dandy, man about town, always a ladies' man, an inveterate storyteller, and a larger than life powerhouse. And while one doesn't always like "Cump" Sherman, this book makes Sherman come alive and reestablishes him as part of our National Character, and what a character he is.
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My bio is below:
Thomas "Tom" Nevins was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he still lives with his wife and three daughters. As a teenager he became interested in writing after hearing the lyrics of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. After High School, Nevins worked, traveled through Europe; Holland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway and across the U.S. before attending New York University School of Continuing Education. In 1974 he enrolled in the College of Staten Island, a division of City University System, where he was lucky enough to not only meet his wife, Debbie, but to study under John Shawcross, Armand Schwerener, and Herbert Leibowitz, who sponsored Nevins with a working scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 1977. Upon graduation into a recessed economy, he found it difficult to land a job; one day he walked into Doubleday Bookshops in Manhattan to enquire about employment opportunities. They hired him, and from sales clerk he rose to assistant manager, to store manager, to buyer, to sales representative, to National Account Manager, and to author of THE AGE OF THE CONGLOMERATES. When he is not writing or working for Random House, he is watching The Mets ( groaning is more like it); or playing the drums in his basement. He likes his rock and roll loud, simple and with a beat, and if it's rebellious, or broken hearted, all the better. He lives with two teachers and great daughters who help keep him busy and keep it real. It seems, at all times, he has large cup of coffee on hand and a song in his heart.
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