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From the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero.Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic SouthernFrom the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero.Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked—hope—and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero....

Title : rebel yell the violence passion and redemption of stonewall jackson
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ISBN : 19912164
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Number of Pages : 352 Pages
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rebel yell the violence passion and redemption of stonewall jackson Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2018-10-26 19:49

    ”He wore a tattered, faded, and mud-flecked uniform whose shoulders had been bleached yellow by the sun, large artillery boots, and a soiled cap pulled down across the bridge of his nose so that much of his face was obscured. His hair was long and his beard unkempt. He was what most of the thousands of people who saw him and later recorded their observations might have called nondescript.”Thomas “Stonewall” JacksonGeneral Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of those men that blossomed because of war. Jackson had always been a strange bird. A man difficult to hold a conversation with. A man so rigid in self-discipline that he proved at times impossible to like. He was orphaned early in life and book learning was never easy for him. This self imposed discipline was without a doubt one of the reasons he was able to overcome his disadvantages and survive a strict course of study at West Point. He graduated in the class of 1846 which just happened to be the same class as the celebrated Union general George B. McClellan. ”a class that eventually produced more generals----twenty-two, twelve Union and ten Confederate, including two lieutenant generals and fourteen major generals---than any West Point class in history.”It reminds me of a show I watched on the great Robber Barons of American history. They were all born within a few years of each other, basically, they were born at the right time to take advantage of a huge opportunity in advancing technology. The same could be said for the West Point class of 1846. They were born at the right time to be at the proper point in their careers to take the best advantage of the fast promotions available during war time. George B. McClellan, please do not scuff his boot or tarnish a button on his splendid jacket.McClellan always dressed like an exquisitely designed toy soldier, too polished to be a man at war. Jackson dressed more like a man down on his luck than a celebrated Confederate General. McClellan drilled his soldiers to perfection and spent more time preparing for war than actually fighting the war. Jackson on the other hand with his ragged army, many without shoes, didn’t spend much time on drilling, but was always spoiling for the next fight. McClellan was looking to the future with a Presidential run as his ultimate prize. He thought he could be the one to reunite the Union and didn’t want to bloody his hands more than necessary in suppressing the very people he felt would support him over that “ape” (the term of “endearment” that McClellan used when discussing the President) Abraham Lincoln. Jackson never gave politics much of a thought. He was intent on winning the war with bullets and blood not through speeches or negotiations. Lincoln trying to entice McClellan into battle.There is certainly a difference in the mentality of the North and the South regarding the war. Jackson had a controversial view of the war. ”He proceeded to lay out for the amazed Smith a full-blown plan to lay waste to the North, its armies, its industries, and its cities that would see Philadelphia in flames and Confederate armies camped on the shores of the Great Lakes.” He believed in total war.The North at the beginning of the war had no such thoughts. They really just wanted to win enough battles to force the South to the negotiation table. It was easy to see the way the Union Generals made decisions and even the way the troops responded to the conflict that the North didn’t really want to fight. The Confederacy felt different about the war from the very beginning. ”The people of the Confederacy had fully expected a splendid victory. They had been quite certain that a Southern boy could whip several times his weight in cowardly Yankees, and they had been proven right. They had believed that, faced with Confederate resolve and Confederate gumption, the Federals would turn and run like scalded dogs, and the Northern boys had given them the truly immense satisfaction of doing precisely that.”When you read the rhetoric coming out of the South, they were looking forward to killing Yankees. They had resentments against the North that the North didn’t reciprocate. The typical Yankee soldier didn’t hate the Rebels, but the typical Confederate soldier felt a lot of animosity towards the North. The Confederate soldiers as a group were a lot more motivated and thus more supportive of the war than the Union soldiers. As the war progressed and people in the North were being personally affected by the war this changed the perceptions towards the war and towards the South. President Abraham Lincoln also found a General in Grant who was willing to embrace the Jackson concept of total war. Where the typical Union soldier saw the war as a necessary evil, the typical Southern soldier saw it more as a glorious quest. ”What the Confederacy had desperately needed, in a war it was obviously losing, was a myth of invincibility, proof of their notions of the glorious, godly, embattled, chivalric Southern character were not just romantic dreams. Proof that with inferior resources it could still win the war. Jackson, in his brilliant, underdog valley campaign, had finally given it to them.” Jackson was a truly a gifted tactician. He moved whole armies as if they were ghost soldiers. They disappeared into the mist and reappeared where they couldn’t possibly be. He possessed, like his commanding officer Robert E. Lee, the ability to assess his opponents strengths and weakness well beyond just the man power and artillery available, but also down to the decisions their opponent was most likely to make during battle. They could be bold while the Union General on the other side typically...hesitates. A Union General just knowing that Thomas Jackson commanded the Confederate troops in front of him would automatically be more likely to think defensively than offensively. Jackson with his stream of victories was as famous and as lauded in the North as he was in the South. Yankee prisoners would cheer him when he passed by. The Richmond Whig summed up how important Jackson was proving to be to the Southern cause. ”The central figure of the war is, beyond question, that of Robert E. Lee. His the calm, broad military intellect that reduced the chaos after Donelson to form and order. But Jackson is the motive power that executes, with the rapidity of lightning, all that Lee can plan. Lee is the exponent of Southern power of command; Jackson, the expression of its faith in God and in itself, its terrible energy, its enthusiasm and daring, its unconquerable will, its contempt of danger and fatigue.”Jackson typically put himself in the thick of things. Something that his troops loved, but his general staff hated. He was reckless with his life believing that God would spare him or take him whether he was in the middle of a beehive of bullets or safely observing from a far hill. What made him so valuable to Lee was that he understood his orders well beyond what was discussed with Lee. He could anticipate changes in strategy the exact same way that Lee would. A subordinate like this is not only unusual, but invaluable. Lee and Jackson were very different men in upbringing and in their ability to communicate, but when it came to looking at a battlefield they were peering at it, seemingly, with the same eyes. Stonewall Thomas JacksonJackson rarely got enough sleep which sometimes slowed his thinking processes. When this happened his staff who were used to lightning fast, well thought out decisions, were sometimes compromised because Jackson rarely shared his battle plans. Jackson was vindictive and rigid when it comes to enforcing military policy. Over the span of his career, even well before the Civil War, he brought many officers up on charges, some not provable. He even accused a commanding officer of immoral conduct. During the war that harshness was still part of his personality. He wanted to shoot all deserters, but resisted only because he knew the public sentiment would not stand for it. What was irritating to me was at times he disciplined fellow officers or removed them from command for breaking rules that he himself had broken. He obviously saw himself above the law, but felt that everyone else must comply or face harsh consequences. Jackson was willing to sacrifice his men, sometimes ruthlessly. The more impossible the requests he made of his men, the more they loved him. The Northern Generals never had the luxury of such devoted soldiers that were willing to follow their commanders to the gates of hell. Some of that was a lack of dynamic, forceful leadership that was so prevalent among the Confederate armies, but some of it was also a reluctance to destroy people who they still considered to be fellow Americans. Lee certainly missed Jackson at Gettysburg. If Jackson had been there maybe that battle would have turned out differently and the tide of the war would not have changed so dramatically at that specific moment in time. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the war, but he certainly might have helped to prolong it. Stone Mountain Memorial to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Jackson.Like a hero of mythology Jackson does not have to taste defeat. He is shot by his own men near the end of the Battle of Chancellorsville when he and his staff were mistaken for Union cavalry. His arm is amputated and there is hope that he will recover, but he succumbs to pneumonia a little over a week after he is wounded. S. C. Gwynne brings Jackson out of the mists of history and presents what made him such an effective leader. He reveals the thorns of his personality along with the brilliance of his tactical mind. Jackson saw the future of how to win the war long before either side was willing to admit the amount of butchery and the destruction of assets that would be required to finally reunite the country and end the war. How fascinating (and bloody) would it have been to have had two like minded warriors such as Grant and Jackson to meet in battle?I also recently read and reviewed the new book by Michael Korda on Robert E. Lee. Clouds of GloryIf you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  • Fred Shaw
    2018-11-07 12:52

    The Rebel Yell, is one of a number of books about Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Some say, Stonewall was one of the greatest generals of the Civil War. The book's title is of course, the name given the actual screech of charging Confederate soldiers that "sent chills up the spine" of Yankee soldiers. It was Stonewall Jackson's men at the First Battle of Manassas that started the phenomenon. Stonewall was said to be a "cold blooded killer". As a leader, he was not "touchy, feely", but his men would follow him anywhere because he won battles. He was lost early in the war, killed by his own men when they mistakenly believed he and his staff were the enemy when returning to camp at dusk. Jackson would later die due to poor care after the amputation of the left arm. When Robert E. Lee heard of "Stonewall's" death, he commented: "Jackson lost his left arm and I have lost my right". If you like history, this is a good one, well researched and written.

  • Donna Davis
    2018-10-18 18:01

    Gwynne describes his biography of Jackson as an amateur effort, and as such, it is a strong one. He documents meticulously, using both primary documents and highly respected secondary sources. It is a sympathetic portrait of Jackson, generally speaking, although the author maintains a reasonable professional distance and objectivity. Sometimes his point of view is that of the dispassionate observer, and at other times, he speaks as if he were Jackson's friend, a quirky touch that I found oddly endearing.I should mention two things next. One is that although I have read a good deal about the American Civil War (and taught about it), I have never read a Jackson biography before, so I don't have a basis for comparison. This is a bare spot in my own Civil War scholarship that I hope to rectify. The second thing I should say is that my copy came to me free, courtesy of Net Galley and Gwynne's publisher, Scribner. I've really enjoyed the read.I encountered one obstacle in reading this otherwise well written work, and also what I believe is a flaw. The obstacle--and it's happened more than once and is no fault of Gwynne's--is that history can't be read really well on an e-reader. Elaborate battle plans are described, and then this teeny weeny map pops up. Even if I had been able to use the zoom feature (which on a galley is not offered), I still would have needed to see the whole picture at once to really understand what he did. If you are a reader who is satisfied to know that he did something unconventional and brilliant, this may not bother you, but much of the biography is devoted to specific military tactics, since it is primarily this that brought Jackson his fame. It only whetted my curiosity, and in one way or another, I will follow up at a later time and get maps of those battles on paper in a readable size. If you feel the same, and if you get this book, I strongly advise you to buy the hard cover edition rather than e-reader or audiobook (unless it goes to paperback, which would be both useful and more affordable).The other thing that bothered me is that Gwynne tries to do too much. The first twenty percent or so goes off onto unnecessary tangents, trying to provide us with a thumbnail version of the entire Civil War from its inception to the time of Jackson's death. This is both off topic, since the book is a biography, not a Civil War history, and of course also an inadequate history. At the end of the book he does the same thing, trying to thumbnail sketch the ultimate fate of every player in the parts of war in which Jackson participated, and some others also.On the one hand, maybe this makes it more approachable to someone unfamiliar with the Civil War, but really nobody should plunge into a biography of a Civil War general without first becoming familiar with the basic facts of the war. I would have preferred he consider the basic outline of the Civil War to be assumed knowledge, and move forward, focusing exclusively on Jackson and whatever other information is necessary to set context.I felt he did well in his detailed sketch of Jackson. His religion was an integral part of his personality, and though I am an Atheist, I have known others who have had the same capacity to carry their faith into everything they do. They don't remind others constantly to give God the credit for whatever achievements bring them praise, but this is a different time; the period just after the Industrial Revolution saw a much wider and more visible Christianity throughout the US.Others were assumed to be Christians unless they went out of their way to say otherwise. Therefore I agree with Gwynne's assessment that Jackson's religious behavior was not a sign of mental illness, but merely a personal trait distinguished by its consistency.Like other heroes of the Civil War such as Sherman and Grant (my own favorites), Jackson was not successful until the war broke out. He grew up poor and by his own determination succeeded in procuring a military education, which was tuition free. Afterward he became a teacher, but was by all accounts just dreadful. His delivery was mumbled and unenthusiastic, his discipline harsh even for the time, and his instruction consisted of assigning students to memorize passages of the text without his first explaining the meaning of the text or offering a chance for students to ask questions. Students called him "Tom Fool" behind his back and made fun of him in his presence.The war transformed him, and somehow when it came to training soldiers, he was a wonderful teacher. Anyone who did not seem to understand what to do was drawn aside by Jackson and given one-on-one training. He wanted to invade the Northern states right away, under a black flag (so shoot everyone and take no prisoners). He found this entirely consistent with his religion, since like so many warriors before and after, he was persuaded that God was on his side.His men at first despised him for his long, forced marches through all kinds of terrible weather and terrain, but it was victory that made them love him. Most of them were young, and what better way to march into manhood than a structured situation in which one is guided in his actions, and meets with nearly immediate success? The battles were traumatic, to be sure, but given the circumstances, they would have been drawn into battle, one way or the other. Under Jackson they found an unassuming leader who took no luxuries for himself and didn't ask his men to do anything that he himself would not do. He became the ultimate father figure for many.His campaign in the Shenandoah Valley made him famous; his successes at both battles at Manasses (Bull Run), the 7 Days battle in the Wilderness, and others too numerous to list--in fact, I was surprised how many, since I had come to regard Jackson as a star who had shown brightly but briefly--made him a hero even Union soldiers would cheer, and the Confederate news source that claimed that "Stonewall" would become as much a legend as "Old Hickory" (Andrew Jackson) actually understated what posterity would hold for this humble man.His fearlessness was due to his absolute and utter conviction that God had sent him on a mission, and nothing could happen to him until God was satisfied that his purpose had been fulfilled. This gives me pause. At what point does one draw the line? He didn't do anything clearly foolhardy such as jumping into raging rivers or leaping off cliffs, and yet he thought nothing of exposing himself to a hail of bullets near the front of the battle, convinced that he was covered by a magical shield provided by an omnipotent God. Again, I don't say he was crazy, but it makes me curious. This is one character for whom I'd love to go back in time and have a conversation.Gwynne's writing style is lively, his transitions smooth as butter. Another book of his, which I'd like to read, was a finalist for the Pulitzer, and that word-smithery is evident here also. He turns a compelling narrative that at times may make one forget that this is nonfiction, not unlike The Guns of August (by Barbara Tuchman). If he were to refine his format to a more laser-like focus on Jackson, maybe he'll be nominated again; hell, maybe he will anyway.A wonderful read; get it in paper format!Post-script 3 years later: what I said about maps and e-readers no longer holds true. The quality of maps on digital readers varies tremendously now. Some are clear and crisp, and on an e-reader can be expanded to show one area or another enlarged; others cannot. Some have precious, historical font that pixelates badly when enlarged and nobody ever can read it. I don't know whether the maps on this book are any better now digitally than when it first became available, but having made a sweeping statement, I felt moved to provide an update.

  • happy
    2018-11-08 14:56

    I found this a masterful telling of the life of the Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Mr. Gwynne really brings to life the man who was probably the best tactical General of the Civil War. From the opening prologue, the Jackson the author presents is not a man who is big on appearances. He is dressed in such a way as to be almost unnoticeable on a crowded train platform.In this well written account, the author tells the story of Jackson’s life and brings to life the contradictions and motivations of the man. For example, a devout Christian, Jackson almost always attributes his success to God’s will. This leads him to an almost reckless attitude for his own safety in battle and to care greatly about his men, both their physical and spiritual needs. At the same time his uncompromising Christian morality gets him into trouble in the prewar army when he accuses a superior officer of adultery without a good case and doesn’t allow him to marry the woman he apparently loves after his first wife dies, his late wife’s sister. Later he seems to find happiness in a second marriage.Before the war he is presented almost a fish out of water. After he leaves the army and ends up at VMI, he is an indifferent professor at best. His struggles as a professor are well presented as well as his home life. The coming of the war seems to give Jackson purpose. From the time he leads his students out of VMI through to his death at Chancellorsville he is presented as the consummate tactician, able to run rings around his opponents. The one exception to this was his performance in the Seven Days battles. Mr. Gwynne seems to excuse this do to his ill health and exhaustion.As I mentioned above, Mr. Gwynne really brings out Jackson’s religious faith. It colors everything he does. He is always giving credit to God for whatever happens, both good and bad. Also his self-discipline and devotion to duty are well depicted. From his preparing his lessons where he would spend all night in a darkened room, memorizing his what he is going to teach to his battlefield performances where his he and his men march up to 35 miles in a day, earning them the nickname of "Jackson’s Foot Cavalry". He expected his men to have the same devotion to duty that he himself had. One example that Gwynne cites is to an officer applying for leave to bury his family who had died in an epidemic. The letter Jackson wrote back to him is very moving and shows empathy for the man’s plight. However, in the last sentence, Jackson denies the leave saying simply duty requires everyman be present at that time.In writing about Jackson’s battlefield generalship, I feel Mr. Gwynne gives a good accounting of Jackson’s performance as well as his opponents. In telling the story of the 1862 Shenandoah campaign, Jackson seems to have been blessed with less the stellar enemy generalship. That doesn’t discount his accomplishments however. He kept them off balance and ran them out of the valley. His opponents just couldn’t conceive that an army could move that far, that fast and hit that hard.Mr. Gwynne also does a nice job with Jackson’s death. After the first days fighting at Chancellorsville, the lines were so mixed up, Jackson went out after dark to try and determine exactly who was where. In returning to his own lines he was shot by confederate soldiers. He lost an arm, but was expected to recover. Unfortunately for the south he developed pneumonia and passed away 8 days after being wounded. In summary, Gwynne does a masterful job of blending the Civil War General’s public exploits and actions with the personal, private side of the man. Despite a few minor factual errors, this is a definite 5 star read.

  • Jim Cooper
    2018-11-06 14:07

    S.C. Gwynne sure knows how to tell a story. I was a little afraid that a 700-page book focused on one person in the Civil War would be a little tedious, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is fascinating. I got caught up in it like I normally would a novel. It's intense, sometimes really sad, and sometimes really funny.I was also a little surprised that I found myself sympathetic with Stonewall and his troops as they move through the story. This was my first Civil War book from the perspective of the South. Seeing it through Jackson/Lee/Davis' eyes didn't make me change my mind about the outcome (or about the causes) of the war. But it did help me understand the southern mindset a little better.Maybe the most interesting part of this book is that you figure out pretty quickly why the Civil War ended up being so brutal. The first couple of years were basically a stalemate because nobody yet understood that total annihilation was the only way either side would win.Anyway, I highly recommend it.

  • Leah
    2018-10-18 13:13

    “Draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.”I’ll start with my usual disclaimer that I can’t speak to the accuracy of the history in this book. In fact, my prior knowledge of Stonewall Jackson, and indeed the whole Civil War, could fairly be described as non-existent. But Gwynne has clearly done a huge amount of research and, assuming the accuracy, the only word that I can find to describe the book is superb. In terms of the quality of the descriptive writing, the structure and skilful use of language, and the depth Gwynne brings to the characters of Jackson and his comrades and friends, the book stands not just as an outstanding biography but as a very fine piece of literary writing. As Jackson and his force of cadets set out to war, Gwynne tells us of his pre-war life as a rather strange and awkward man, deeply religious, suffering from poor health and perhaps a degree of hypochondria. Having overcome his early lack of education to scrape into West Point, he took full advantage of the opportunities on offer there, dragging himself up from the bottom of the class to graduate in a fairly high position. The first signs of his heroism were seen in the Mexican war when his courageous – some might say reckless – actions against a much greater enemy force were crucial to the success of the assault on Mexico City. But after this war, Jackson had taken a position as professor at the Virginia Military Institute, a job for which he seemed remarkably unsuited. Unable to control his unruly classes and an uninspiring teacher, he was seen as something of an oddity by his pupils. Gwynne shows how that all changed as he became one of the Confederacy’s finest leaders, with many of these same pupils ending up willing to follow him anywhere and die for him if necessary.To them, Jackson’s movement east with his vaunted Army of the Valley meant that he was coming to save Richmond, which meant that he was coming to save the Confederacy. And the soldiers of the beleaguered Army of Northern Virginia believed to the bottom of their ragged, malnourished rebel souls that he was going to do precisely that.This is very much a biography of Jackson and a history of his military campaigns, rather than a history of the Civil War itself. Therefore Gwynne doesn’t go too deeply into the politics of why the war came about, nor does he make any overt judgements about the rights or wrongs of it. Although in the course of the campaigns, we find out a lot about some of the commanders and politicians on the Unionist side, the book is rooted within the Confederacy and the reader sees the war very much from their side. As we follow Jackson through his campaigns, Gwynne, with the assistance of clear and well-placed maps, brings the terrain to life, vividly contrasting the beauty of the country with the brutality and horrors of the battlefields. He gives such clear detail of the strategies and battle-plans, of troop numbers and movements, of weaponry and equipment, that each battle is brought dramatically to life. In fact, my lack of knowledge was something of an unexpected benefit since I genuinely didn’t know the outcome of the battles and so was in a constant state of suspense. And found that I very soon had given myself over completely to willing Jackson onto victory. The image of this heroic man mounted on his favourite horse in the midst of mayhem, the light of battle in his eyes, one hand held high as he prayed for God’s help while the bullets and artillery thudded all around him, is not one I shall soon forget. On the way back to headquarters Jackson, riding now with McGuire and Smith, said nothing until they neared their camp, when he suddenly said, “How horrible is war.”“Horrible, yes,” McGuire replied. “But we have been invaded. What can we do?”“Kill them, sir,” Jackson said. “Kill every man.”From the beginnings of the creation of the Jackson legend in the Shenandoah Valley campaign, then on through the series of battles where he snatched victory from what should have been certain defeat, till his final stunning achievements as the right-hand man of General Robert E Lee, Gwynne shows the growing admiration and even love of his troops for this man whose total belief in the rightness of his cause and God’s protection led him to take extraordinary risks. He drove his men brutally hard, marching them at unheard-of speeds, on half rations or worse, and he threw them into battle even when they were exhausted and weak and hugely outnumbered. But his personal courage and strategic brilliance turned him into a figurehead – a symbol for the South, whose very name could make the Unionist commanders tremble. Cheered and adulated by soldiers and citizenry everywhere he went, he consistently insisted that all praise for his victories was God’s due, not his, and remained awkward in the face of his growing celebrity to the end.Men were fixing dinner and taking naps or relaxing, listening to the distant music of a regimental band, or perhaps discussing the Confederate retreat, when suddenly all nature seemed to rise up in revolt around them. Through their camps rushed frantic rabbits, deer, quail, and wild turkeys, then there was an odd silence, and then Jackson’s massive, screaming, onrushing wall of grey was upon them.But amidst all the warfare, Gwynne doesn’t forget to tell us about the man. We see the other side of Jackson – the family man, grieving for the death of his first young wife and then finding happiness with his second, Anna. Through extracts from his letters, we see the softer, loving side of Jackson and also learn more about his deeply held conviction of God’s presence in every aspect of his life. We learn how the war divided him from his much loved sister who took the Unionist side. And we’re told of the efforts he made to nurture religion amongst his troops. A silent and somewhat socially awkward man to outward appearance, we see how he opened up to the people closest to him, taking special pleasure in the company of young children. A man of contradictions, truly, who could hurl his men to their almost certain deaths one day and weep for the death of a friend’s child the next.A biography that balances the history and the personal perfectly, what really made this book stand out for me so much is the sheer quality of the writing and storytelling. Gwynne’s brilliant use of language and truly elegant grammar bring both clarity and richness to the complexities of the campaigns, while the extensive quotes from contemporaneous sources, particularly Jackson’s own men, help to give the reader a real understanding of the trust and loyalty that he inspired. As Gwynne recounted the final scenes of Jackson’s death and funereal journey, I freely admit I wept along with the crowds of people who lined the streets in wait for a last chance to see their great hero. And I wondered with them whether the outcome might have been different had Jackson lived. If only all history were written like this…NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Scribner.www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  • Anthony Whitt
    2018-11-07 15:10

    One of the best biographies you will ever read. Gwynne introduces you to Stonewall Jackson and you will come to understand he is every bit the legendary Civil War leader you have heard about. But Gwynne also takes you on an exploration of the man behind the hard driving commander that excelled on the battlefield. Be prepared to form an emotional attachment with Jackson well crafted by an outstanding author. Excellent work and highly recommended!

  • Steven Walle
    2018-11-14 14:55

    This is a great book which I forgot to rate and write upon. Anyway I will give you a full review later this day. Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond

  • Heather
    2018-10-29 16:48

    The Civil War has never been my strong point in history – but knowing that, I decided that it would be a good thing for me to make an effort to better understand this part of US history, especially from the side of the Confederacy. Stonewall Jackson is the only other Confederate General I could have named besides General Lee, and all I could have told you was his name. Well, now having read Rebel Yell I have come to admire this man in such a way that he has become one of my favorite figures is American history. It feel weird to make that previous remark – I have been born and raised in New England with all of the northern states history that comes with that. While I may not agree with the defense of slavery, I find him admirable for his passion, commitment to his cause, and the defense of his homeland and way of life. And while I think he might have been just a tiny bit crazy, there is no doubt that he was an amazing military commander.It is clear that S.C. Gwynne has done his fair share of research on Jackson. The man comes to life from the pages and I felt like this was someone that I actually knew. I will admit to actually shedding a tear or two when I found out that he had actually died during the war and didn’t get to live out a long life. Gwynne does a fantastic job of getting into this man’s head. I have been expounding facts about Stonewall Jackson to pretty much anyone that would listen for the several months it took me to finish reading it. However, at no point did the book feel like I was being overwhelmed by facts put there for purely the purpose of the fact.I learned so much about the actual battlefield war of the Civil War, whereas previously I knew mostly about the political battlefield. Sometimes reading about battles can get bogged down in technicalities, which is not so here. In Rebel Yell, Gwynne adequately describes battles enough for a layperson to understand, without simplifying it too much.This was a great read that I can’t recommend enough.I had an interesting experience reading/listening to this book. Apparently the tracks got jumbled on my i-pod and for a good 8 hours I was listening to chapters out of order. So then I re-started the book all over again, this time on the actual CDs that I had received. The narration was very well done and I could feel the narrator’s passion while reading the text. His pace and tone were well matched to the text. The only thing that I would have liked would be for the narrator to actual sing the song, Stonewall Jackson’s Way, instead of just reading the lyrics.This review was previously posted at The Maiden's Court blog.

  • Marla
    2018-10-19 18:17

    This was a very interesting book about Stonewall Jackson (my ancestor) and the any people he encountered. I learned so much about the man and I feel like I have a picture of what he was like. Cotter did a great job reading it too.

  • Steven Peterson
    2018-10-21 20:16

    This is an excellent biography of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. It follows the story of the eccentric and not totally popular instructor at a Virginia military school (he taught what we might now call physics) to be one of the top Confederate generals during the Civil War. He was one of the students' greatest fears; he could not explain scientific phenomena very well and would "lose" his classes. He had some success before his term as a faculty member, e.g., during the Mexican War.With the advent of war between the states, Jackson became an officer in the Confederate cause. He had a command under General Joseph Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley. When Irwin McDowell began his march toward Manassas, He was able to occupy an antique Union general to allow Johnson's forces to take the train to join the Confederate body at Manassas (under General P. G. T. Beauregard). Jackson did well, received recognition, and the Confederate army won the day.The book then chronicles Jackson's extraordinary Shenandoah campaign against several different Union forces, preventing reinforcements being sent to General George McLellan's massive force in front of Richmond. Jackson went with his force to join Lee in the Seven Days. His performance was disappointing and not up to his standards (perhaps exhaustion, as several works have suggested?). Then, a spectacular performance at Second Manassas. Then, on to Antietam and Fredericksburg. . . . Jackson, along with General James Longstreet, gave Lee two very different generals, whose strengths complemented one another.Finally, a masterpiece at Chancellorsville (although a very costly success, given the percentage of troops lost in this sanguinary conflict). His flank march and its aftermath are well told. And, then, the accidental shooting of Jackson by his own troops.This is an outstanding biography of Jackson. It portrays some real idiosyncratic tendencies on his part, his irascibility, his sometimes unfair treatment of others (e.g., General Garnett), his courage, and his tactical genius in independent command. All in all, a fine work.

  • Paul Pessolano
    2018-10-16 18:13

    “Rebel Yell” by S.C. Gwynne, published by Scribner.Category – Civil War/Biography Publication Date – September 30, 2014.If you are student of history, a student of the Civil War, or a reader just interested in a good biography and an easy readable book on the Civil War, ”Rebel Yell” will satisfy ya’ll.The book presents a thorough look at the life of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. It also provides a look at the major battles of the Civil War and gives convincing reasons why they were both won and lost.There were few officers in the Civil War that were as unlikely as Jackson to become its hero, recognized by both the North and the South. He was an inept teacher a VMI, and did not have the social graces often associated with the upper echelon of the military establishment. He did, however, possess a knack for getting the most out of his men (under some very brutal conditions) and gaining their respect. He was also able to confuse and defeat Northern Generals by staging unexpected and daring maneuvers. The book also brings out the little known fact that Jackson was a highly religious person. He took very little praise for his actions, giving all to his God. He was so serious about this that he was the first person to actively pursue chaplains for the military. Many people still believe that his death was the beginning of the end for the South. The troops that rallied behind him, and the southern population that he gave hope to, could not find another standard bearer and that includes Robert E. Lee.An excellent read that combines the biography of Stonewall Jackson and the history of the Civil War to perfection.

  • Scott
    2018-11-04 20:13

    General Jackson was extremely pious, shy and a hell of a fighter. Just his presence near a battle brought fear to the Union armies. I really enjoyed Mr. Gwynne's telling of the story of one of our great generals.

  • Bob Schnell
    2018-11-04 14:02

    Once again, a random selection from the Advanced Reading Copies shelf at work has led me to a good book on a topic I normally wouldn't pick.The American Civil War certainly had its share of larger-than-life participants. The winners, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant are immortalized on our currency. The other side have not fared so well in the history books and popular culture. S.C. Gwynne's exhaustive biography of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson could elevate at least one Confederate to American hero status, even to a Yankee like myself. Although the book centers in on the Civil War battles that made Stonewall Jackson famous, the author wisely jumps back and forth in time to cover his childhood, schooling, family, etc in such a way as to keep the war coverage from blending into one long military campaign. Descriptions of the carnage of the war tend to get repetitive (how many ways can you describe the effects of bullets and shrapnel on the human body?)but by interspersing those scenes with descriptions of Jackson's very intensely private life, this lengthy book moves quickly and keeps your interest. I also found the battle maps to be clear and informative, unlike battle maps in many other war books I've read.I learned a lot from this book, not only about the subject but also the time in which he lived. In order to get a different perspective, I'd be curious to read a biography of Jackson's main opponent, General George McClellan. And the next time I visit a Civil War memorial, I will be better informed and a bit more respectful.

  • Dean
    2018-11-02 13:54

    After having read S. C. Gwynne's "Rebel Yell, the violence, passion, and redemption of Stonewall Jackson", I cannot longer claim convincingly that the rebels where the bad guys and the Yankees the good ones!!!For me this book has turn to be the source of a great and multi-layered blessing as follow:First of all let me say that Gwynne's magnificent narration describing Jacksons life and the American civil war in spite of covering nearly 700 pages, never becomes insipid or dull.Indeed, the pages fly rapidly and fast, as you becomes more and more involve in Jacksons world....Then again it's a book describing the atrocities and bloody slaughters of the American civil war.And how many young people died and sacrificed their lives for his country!!!At Jacksons time, the U. S. A. was a deep divided country, and so it is again.....Different life style and view points about slavery and other issues were splitting up the peoples from each other.Jackson was a great warrior and a deep believer in the Bible, he was a Christian and a charismatic leader!!!Gwynne in his book understands it to bring to life the battles and the amazing military hero who was Stonewall Jackson...But at the same time he shows us the man behind the legend.Gwynne gives us accounts of sufferings and hard fate strokes in Jacksons life; i.e. his first wife--she was Jacksons great love-- giving birth to a stillborn baby, died......So Jackson nearly lost his mind, and this kind of pressure and heat forms and gives us this astounding and tragic hero!!!I'm thankful for having such a book, and for me Jacksons warrior-spirit and deep Christians convictions remains a rich source of encouragement and strengt!!!Gwynne has done a great work, very well researched and illustrated with different kinds of pictures..... I recommend it with five stars to all my goodreads friends!!!!Dean;)

  • Dave
    2018-11-10 20:57

    Author S.C. Gwynne has written a superb biography of a 19th century legend - Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson. The book has deservedly received a number of awards. I will use the term 'biography' somewhat loosely here. Although we learn about Jackson's entire life, the book concentrates on his service as a Confederate general from April 1861 to his death on May 10, 1863 as a result of wounds received during the Battle of Chancellorsville.I have read a number of books on the Civil War, but would classify my knowledge as broad, but shallow. Given that point, I was enthralled by Gwynne's book. His research appears to be in depth with rich troves of primary sources. He has synthesized his findings into a wonderful picture of a most complicated, contradictory, and brilliant man. Jackson may have been one of the most talented field commanders ever produced by America and West Point. He was insightful, cunning, ruthless, brave, and dogged. He was also spiritual, kind, shy, and loving. In the less than two years of Civil War leadership, he put together a string of battlefield victories that are unmatched in American history. How do you paint a telling picture of a man like that? You start by giving the job to S.C. Gwynne! Seriously, without either becoming star-struck or cynical, Gwynne has painted a clear-eyed and thoughtful picture of this historical figure. In addition his descriptions and maps of the various battles are clear, detailed, and wonderful.I highly recommend "Rebel Yell: The violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson".

  • Shelly♥
    2018-11-14 16:53

    I've been deep into Civil War reads for several years, but never have read a biography of the legendary Stonewall Jackson, and was absolutely thrilled that the publishers have given me the opportunity to read and review this book. Many of the books I've read have discussed in part the genius, quirkiness, and characters of Jackson. Rebel Yell is a complete expose of the Confederate general.Gwynne starts the book in the Valley, where Jackson grew the seed of legend planted on the killing fields of Manassass. But as he dives into Jackson's background, he moves back and forth between the various stages of his life, building on the people and events that influenced him, and showing the how these influences may have shaped him. He works us back into the Civil War and finally we return to the Valley to walk with Stonewall through his fame and legend.It's clear that Stonewall Jackson is a historical figure of epic proportions. But what was the thing that vaulted him into the hearts of the Confederacy and the textbooks of modern day war fare? We follow the trail that takes Jackson from his almost mock status as a VMI professor to the most feared general in the Army of Northern Virginia. The author weaves in first person accounts on this journey, so that we come to the understanding of the absolute devotion his men had to him, and how deeply he impacted them as he turned them from a ragged group of volunteers to the famous and lauded foot soldiers of Stonewall Jackson. Gwynne covers everything, from the epic marches in the Valley to the final fateful recon in the wilderness at Chancellorsville. He doesn't just sing the heralds and genius of Jackson, either. He points out many instances where fate intervenes in successes and failures of the blue-eyed general. Jackson is far from perfect in his command, making a number of mistakes, but often in conjunction with more horrific mistakes on the Union side. The historical records don't always give us the entire story, but the communication challenges that the armies faced, clearly affected events and outcomes. One thing is certain though, Jackson always pushed through.I quite enjoyed the writing style of the author. The book read more like a novel that a dry, historical account. He retells many legendary Jackson tales, but also shares smaller, personal and intimate stories of the general. At times, Jackson has seemed like a wooden figure in historical accounts, impersonal and unwavering. Under his professional exterior, we can truly see his vibrancy and passion.It's truly a worthwhile read, sure to become a classic on the Stonewall Jackson reading list.Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher, all opinions expressed are my own.

  • Jennifer Boyce
    2018-10-29 20:49

    Rebel Yell provides an insightful look into the life of Stonewall Jackson and the civil war years.This book provides the reader with a ton of information on civil war history and the life of Stonewall Jackson. It was a fascinating read and although I consider myself relatively informed on the civil war, this book still managed to provide me with some new (or lesser known) information. I definitely felt that this book touched on the majority of information, giving the reader all of the important information regarding the battles and the time around the civil war. I also felt that this book gave the reader a good idea of what Stonewall Jackson was really like and what his life was like in order to shape him into the man that he was.The writing in this book was easy to read and understand. Gwynne definitely understands how to write a history book in a way that engages the reader while still providing information. I will definitely be looking for more books to read by this author.I would highly recommend this book for those interested in the civil war era and Stonewall Jackson. This book is an engaging and informative read.I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

  • Mitchell
    2018-10-15 15:06

    This book is a must read. Having read several other biographies of "Stonewall" Jackson, I wondered what was left to tell, but Gwynne manages the feat handily by making the man come alive in a way in which other biographies, although well written, and his own legend, however well deserved, have not. After finishing the book, I can almost feel the anguish his closest compatriots must have felt at his untimely demise. Gwynne's own words do it justice: "...Jackson, by contrast - remote, silent, eccentric, and reserved, his hand raised in prayer in the heat of battle - suggest darkness and mystery and magic. Longstreet inspired respect; Jackson, fear and awe." Even the newspapers in the North praised his exploits at his death and recognized his accomplishments. To peer deep inside the enigma that was Jackson, Gwynne's book is the best of the lot.

  • J.P.
    2018-11-10 12:53

    An informative and at the same time entertaining read about the famous Confederate general. It's obvious that the author did his homework. Artfully blending facts with background this reads more like a novel. Works of this type sometimes turn into a dry series of details but this is anything but. Strongly recommended for Civil War buffs and anyone looking for a very good history read. 4 1/2 stars. Thanks to the folks at NetGalley for giving me a copy.

  • Sean
    2018-11-04 21:03

    This book gives a great interpretation of the great Stonewall Jackson. He was an absolutely fascinating individual. If you're planning on reading bios of the American Civil War generals, by all means include Rebel Yell on your list.

  • John
    2018-11-08 21:08

    S.C. Gwynne delivers a captivating look at Stonewall Jackson, fitting an enormous amount of historical detail into a riveting narrative that the reader will likely not want to end. Perhaps one of the best war biographies ever written, its quality is a testament to Gwynne’s engaging style and the greatness of the subject.Thomas Jonathan Jackson possessed an uncompromising will and unquenchable passion. A ferocious and unyielding warrior, he was known for his austerity and devotion to duty. But he also cared deeply and sacrificed considerably for all of those around him. Historians say his letters reveal more emotion than the writings of any of the other Civil War generals, who appear dull and one-dimensional in contrast. The women in his life tell of a sensitive and intensely thoughtful man who read literature and poetry, admired art, and was absorbed in Scripture and theology. As one friend put it, “God was in all his thoughts. God, God Himself, the living, personal and present God possessed his whole being.”This total reliance on God allowed Jackson to see beyond his present circumstances, giving him a preternatural ability to overcome the many sufferings in his life, which he, like the Apostle Paul, counted as light and momentary. An orphaned child, Jackson lost nearly everyone and everything close to him, including his first wife and child. Through it all he maintained a steadfast hope and an unrelenting pursuit of righteousness. Jackson had no formal schooling but somehow managed to gain acceptance and graduate 17th in his class at West Point (where the legal textbook taught the right of secession). He went on to achieve notoriety for his valor in the Mexican-American War and ridicule for his eccentricities as a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. But he was impervious to trends and never shied from controversy. For example, as a deacon in his Presbyterian church in Lexington he established a Sunday school class for slaves in violation of state law. When threatened with prosecution and imprisonment, he shamed his accusers into backing down. The class grew to more than 200 students, whom Jackson taught to read and write through rigorous biblical exposition. His class revered him, as did two slaves who asked Jackson to rescue them from their current circumstances, which he did by purchasing them and making them part of his family. Initially opposed to secession, Jackson changed after Lincoln called up 75,000 men to suppress southern independence. He viewed Lincoln's action as an unconstitutional infringement on state sovereignty that would lead to an invasion of Virginia. When called on to calm the cadets at VMI in the run-up to the hostilities, Jackson stunned the administration by declaring, “The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.” He did just that. Eyewitnesses say they never saw a man more animated or courageous in battle. Seemingly oblivious to danger, he would charge headlong into storms of enemy fire, emerging unscathed so many times that many believed it to be miraculous. As a commander, he rallied an absurdly overmatched army against federal forces with more soldiers, far better weaponry, and vast amounts of supplies. Sometimes his men fought their heavily-armed adversaries with bayonets and pikes. Six times he drove the Union army from Virginia, an accomplishment so incredible that opposing generals declared it to be the greatest feat ever accomplished in the history of warfare. Many years later, George S. Patton said he was the best there ever was.Pursued by forces two, three, and, in some instances, four times larger, Jackson would shock his opponents by choosing to attack rather than retreat. Time and again, he would surprise and envelope the stronger enemy with daring flank movements of astounding distances, moving his army farther and faster than anyone thought possible. His ability to make split-second decisions and seize the high ground was unrivaled, as was his fearlessness and dedication. His staff claimed he eat little and rarely slept, oftentimes scouring battle plans and his Bible until well after midnight and then waking at what he called “early dawn” -- around 3 o’clock in the morning. He would go for months at a time like this. Every hardship he subjected his men to he himself underwent and more. And his men revered him for it.In him lay the South’s hope for self-government and with every victory his success became legendary. His reputation extended far beyond the borders of the Confederacy. It was said that captured Union soldiers would cheer him more vociferously than his own men. Union officers became terrified and paranoid of his powers, which were thought to be divinely inspired. The northern press and people followed his every move. Companies even sold their products using his likeness. In Europe, he became a folk hero and it was his stunning and improbable victories that led the leaders of England to believe, for a time, that the more powerful north could not defeat the south. Some historians even credit Jackson with the abolition of slavery because without him, it is said, the war would have been over in a manner of months, at a time when Lincoln was still trying to preserve the institution. Jackson’s death marked the high point of the Confederacy. Following an overwhelming victory at Chancellorsville, while frantically attempting to pursue the routed enemy in the dark, he was mistakenly shot by his own men. His arm was amputated and he died days later of pneumonia. His passing immediately removed the sense of invincibility felt by the southern people. The army was never the same. Jackson, who recoiled at his own fame, had worried that the trust of the nation was misdirected on him and not God and that this would ensure defeat. The sister of his first wife, who loved Jackson and went on to become a famous poet, put it this way, “The people made an idol of him, and God has rebuked them.” Until the very end, however, Jackson remained at peace. He believed that God has appointed the time for every man to die and he accepted his fate. It was his fervent desire to conform to the will of the Father. Jackson departed this world leaving the testimony of a Christian and a warrior. One of Jackson’s fellow officers summed up his life like this, “As a fighter and a leader he was all that can ever be given to a man to be.” With his outstanding work, S.C. Gwynne’s keeps this legacy alive.

  • David Kinchen
    2018-10-28 15:49

    BOOK REVIEW: 'Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson': The Truth is Even Stranger Than the LegendREVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHENOne of my favorite quotations -- one that I've used before as a book review epigraph -- comes from the 1962 movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." It's probably my favorite Western, with a marvelous cast, including the luminous Vera Miles. (I had a crush on Ms. Miles, who played Marion Crane's sister in "Psycho").The quotation comes at the end of the John Ford-helmed film, starring John Wayne and James Stewart: Stewart plays idealistic lawyer Ransom Stoddard, who is credited with killing bully and all-round bad guy Liberty Valance, played by Lee Marvin. (Spoiler) Valance was actually killed by rancher Tom Doniphon, played to perfection by Wayne, firing at the same time as the novice shooter Ranse Stoddard. The exchange occurs decades later, at the funeral of Doniphon, where newspaper editor Maxwell Scott, learning who killed Valance, decides to stick with the original story -- that Stoddard killed Valance:Ransome Stoddard: You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.In the case of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) so much of the legend has become fact that it was with delight that I read S.C. Gwynne's "Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson" (Scribner, 688 pages, illustrations, notes, appendixes, bibliography, $35.00). I've reviewed many books on the Civil War, and this is far and away the best biography of a Civil War general that I've read. Gwynne's book represents research on a monumental scale -- befitting a man who is immortalized on an actual monument, the Stone Mountain (GA) one, along with Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis."Rebel Yell" is about transformation, Austin, TX, resident Gwynne said in an interview published in his hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman. Gwynne was particularly struck by how Thomas J. Jackson went from being an eccentric and unsuccessful science professor at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) to becoming the skilled general leading the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley campaign -- in a mere 14 months.If I had to pick any place in Virginia to live, I'd probably pick Lexington. I've been there and, along with Blacksburg, it's one of my favorite towns in the Old Dominion. In addition to Washington and Lee University, the town of only 7,000 is also home to VMI. Both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried in Lexington.Born in Clarksburg, VA, (later West Virginia), Jackson lacked the aristocratic lineage of Robert E. Lee, but he ended up being the general Lee trusted the most. One of the legends of the Civil War is that all of the Confederate generals were outstanding -- exemplifying what today could be called the "Lake Woebegone Effect." Gwynne explodes that myth by describing incompetent Rebel generals who were almost as bad as Union commander George B. McClellan (1826-1885). Many of the colleagues -- and opponents -- of Jackson like him served in the Mexican War.I knew that Jackson came from what later (June 20, 1863) became West Virginia, the only state that seceded from an existing state, but I wasn't aware of all the details of his upbringing and family. I didn't know that his sister, Laura Jackson Arnold, was loyal to the Union. In the appendix entry on what became of the characters in the book after the war, Gwynne notes that Laura became one of two women awarded membership in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veterans association. She died at age 80 in Buckhannon, WV in 1911.Gwynne's portraits of the generals who fought with and against Jackson are worth the price of the book. I kept thinking that if Lincoln had picked fellow Illinoisan U.S. Grant from the start, the war would have been over in a few months. (Yes, I know that Grant was an Ohio native and Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but it was in Illinois that that both men achieved their fame). Displayed in the campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley and later at both battles of Bull Run (Manassas to the Confederates); Antietam (Sharpsburg to the Confederates}; Fredricksburg, and his final battle, Chancellorsville, Jackson's tactics struck fear into the hearts of the Union generals who opposed him, often to the point where they considered him almost supernatural. Jackson also impressed foreign visitors and military observers, especially those from England. If you extrapolate enough, Stonewall Jackson was a big influence on Union generals as diverse as George H. Thomas and William T. Sherman.Stonewall Jackson was shot on May 2, 1863, during the battle of Chancellorsville, by Confederate pickets. His left arm was amputated and he had injuries in his right arm. At first he appeared to be on the road to recovery, but his condition worsened and he died of pneumonia on May 10, 1863. He was only 39 years old. His last words were: "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." Gwynne doesn't indulge in hagiography; Jackson's faults are covered. He was a deeply religious Presbyterian, a deacon even, but often his faith made him judgmental, blowing up incidents to the point where they seemed to be coming from a madman. His 1851 altercation with a fellow army officer named French in a military post in central Florida (today's Polk County) named, ironically after Union general George Meade, the hero of Gettysburg, is a case in point. He saw French walking one day with a young female servant and jumped to the conclusion that his fellow officer was an adulterer. Gwynne devotes considerable space to this and other incidents showing the judgmental beyond belief Jackson. Stonewall Jackson was quick to censure officers under his command, often ruining their careers for reasons that seem to be trivial. On the other hand, this enigmatic man was a loving husband to his first wife, Elinor "Ellie" Junkin Jackson -- who died in childbirth -- and later to his second wife, Anna, the mother of his only surviving child, Julia.If you're a Civil War buff -- as I am -- or if you're just interested in wonderful biographies --as I am -- "Rebel Yell" is a must-read book. It reads like a novel, but it's based on extensive beyond belief research.

  • J.K. George
    2018-10-19 20:00

    A masterpiece of research, yielding in-depth battlefield strategy along with the personal and family side of this complex man. I found the battle scenes both riveting and tiring, as I tried to follow every step and the maps, which were not always easy to track to the wording. But all in all, this is a piece d' resistance of a biography. Having grown up in a family who had a participant in the (second) Battle of Cold Harbor, and who, having survived injuries that normally would have been fatal, and who commissioned a small book-let of his war experiences both on the battlefield and in two POW camps, it was interesting to see Gwynne's treatment of this series of battles of the Seven Days War. All in all, this demanding but worthwhile book on Jackson is a study that also has an interesting treatment of R.E. Lee and numerous officers on both sides. It's well worth the investment of time, and also includes a nice side story on Lexington, VA, a town with two of the most polar opposite colleges in the country: VMI and Washington (now W&L).

  • William Monaco
    2018-11-04 16:10

    A superb biography if you’re looking for a detailed account of Jackson’s time serving in the army of the CSA. Gwynne does a good job detailing Jackson’s most famous battles and exposing some of his flaws, especially during the Valley Campaign, but also showing you what made him such a great general. However, even though it was interspersed throughout the book, I thought this was lacking in descriptions of Jackson’s early life. That said, the biography is engaging and provides a portrait of patriotism in one of the country’s most eccentric and brilliant commanders.

  • Tom
    2018-11-08 19:04

    Gwynnes' writing is engaging, and after reading his first book, I wanted to read this one. Stonewall Jackson was a complex man - deeply religious, a horrible teacher who turned out to be a brave, smart military leader. I've never been interested in the American Civil War but this book makes me want to learn more.

  • Paul Downs
    2018-11-13 21:01

    Superb. Not only a complete portrait of the man, and the battles he took part in, but also an admirable piece of writing. Avoids the trap of most biographies by skipping back and forth between the salient events of Jackson's life, his other years, and the nature of contemporary society.

  • Tom Hedlund
    2018-10-15 13:54

    What a fantastic and detailed book! Everything you'd ever want to know about Thomas Stonewall Jackson, and S.C. Gwynne puts you right in the day to day action. Absolutely loved this book!

  • David
    2018-10-25 13:56

    This is probably the best biography I've ever read due to the fascinating subject and the captivating writing style. I highly recommend it!

  • Socraticgadfly
    2018-11-06 15:18

    Once again, as with previous book, Gwynne had taken a charismatic figure of American history, and delivered some good insights, but made some major, elemental errors at the same time, along with doing some major punch-pulling on interpretive history.In "Empire of the Summer Moon," it was giving Comanche chief Quanah a white man's last name that he never had, and knowing better than to do that, being a Texan.This time, the main factual error, or constellation of errors, in this book is promoting Jackson at the expense of James Longstreet, basically indulging old myths about Old Pete.He perpetuates the myth that Longstreet was somehow "less than" or that Lee was often disappointed.He also gets something flat-out wrong when claiming Lee had both promoted to lieutenant general on Oct. 10, 1862.Longstreet's promotion was a day earlier, and Gwynne either should have known it and was lackadaisical in not actually knowing it, or else he's deliberately perpetuating a falsehood.Indeed, most modern histories that don't have such bias make clear that Longstreet's earlier promotion was deliberate, by Lee's design.Also, at 2nd Manassas, confuses D.H. Hill with A.P. Hill in one reference. He later corrects that, but it really shouldn't have been made in the first place. (And, per an ongoing lament of mine about the book industry, it shouldn't have gotten past copy editors, either.)Gwynne does show that Jackson's cantankerousness toward fellow officers started long before the Civil War. He also notes that he had too much secrecy about battle plans with sub-commanders. However, in his downplaying Longstreet, he also fails to note that not only was Old Pete better at this, but that he had a better, more professional, staff in general.That said, he also could have critiqued Jackson more than he did for not recognizing that fast pursuit against retreating foes by large "civilian" armies in the Civil War just wasn't as possible as Jackson might have wished. And, while he mentions Jackson's "black flag" ideas at the start of the war, he doesn't critique them as much as he could.Finally, while noting Jackson's kindliness as a slaveowner, Gwynne doesn't go more into his attitude toward slavery as a whole. (As best we can tell, he "accepted" it as under the control of the same predestinarian Calvinist God that informed his religious beliefs in general.)And, while noting Jackson's religiosity, and its depth, Gwynne has a surprisingly narrow interaction with it; besides how it impacted his views on slavery, how did it impact his views on rebellion? How did he square it with his "black flag," ie, "no quarter" ideas — already at the start of the war — for invading the North?In short, since Gwynne is a Texan, why doesn't he look in more depth at the idea that Stonewall Jackson wanted to be some sort of Santa Anna?I was originally going to 3-star this, but thinking more and more on how Gwynne didn't delve into these and other issues related to Jackson's known religiosity, it goes down another star.