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Waitin’ for The Robert E. Lee

The life of Lee having been “done,” redone, and perhaps even undone by revisionist treatment, the present weighty phenomenon requires some contextual examination.  We might first and simply ask the question, What is the purpose of this book?  I mean to say that the revisionist treatment of the so-called Civil War has been gathering force for more than 50 years, to such an extent that much of the rejection of “the Myth of the Lost Cause” comes from Southern university presses, now that the Long March Through the Institutions has been accomplished.  We don’t any more live in a world where the late Thomas J. Pressly’s enlightening book, Americans Interpret Their Civil War (1954), has much purchase, because Americans used to interpret their Civil War, but do not any longer.  Today they are instructed or bullied in the interpretation of their Civil War, and that mostly by well-heeled academics who review one another’s masterpieces in The New York Times Book Review, etc., ad naus.

We do live in a world where strange things happen, the Civil War having been one of them, and some of them are orchestrated and choreographed en pointe.  More than three decades ago I found myself reading quite a landmark in the history of Lee’s reputation, and I thought I had gone down a rabbit hole.  Never before, as in not once,...

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