Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters

Reading the Man A Portrait of Robert E Lee Through His Private Letters For the th anniversary of Robert E Lee s birth a new portrait drawing on previously unpublished correspondence Robert E Lee s war correspondence is well known and here and there personal letters

  • Title: Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters
  • Author: Elizabeth Brown Pryor
  • ISBN: 9780670038299
  • Page: 101
  • Format: Hardcover
  • For the 200th anniversary of Robert E Lee s birth, a new portrait drawing on previously unpublished correspondence Robert E Lee s war correspondence is well known, and here and there personal letters have found their way into print, but the great majority of his most intimate messages have never been made public These letters reveal a far complex and contradictoryFor the 200th anniversary of Robert E Lee s birth, a new portrait drawing on previously unpublished correspondence Robert E Lee s war correspondence is well known, and here and there personal letters have found their way into print, but the great majority of his most intimate messages have never been made public These letters reveal a far complex and contradictory man than the one who comes most readily to the imagination, for it is with his family and his friends that Lee is at his most candid, most engaging, and most vulnerable Over the past several years historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor has uncovered a rich trove of unpublished Lee materials that had been held in both private and public collections Her new book, a unique blend of analysis, narrative, and historiography, presents dozens of these letters in their entirety, most by Lee but a few by family members Each letter becomes a departure point for an essay that shows what the letter uniquely reveals about Lee s time or character The material covers all aspects of Lee s life his early years, West Point, his work as an engineer, his relationships with his children and his slaves, his decision to join the South, his thoughts on military strategy, and his disappointments after defeat in the Civil War The result is perhaps the most intimate picture to date of Lee, one that deftly analyzes the meaning of his actions within the context of his personality, his relationships, and the social tenor of his times.

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    About "Elizabeth Brown Pryor"

    1. Elizabeth Brown Pryor

      Elizabeth Brown Pryor was an American historian and diplomat, in which capacity she served as senior advisor to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe of the U.S Congress.Pryor was born Mary Elizabeth Brown in Gary, Indiana Her father worked for ATT, and the family moved multiple times for his job She finished her secondary school education in Summit, New Jersey and attended Northwestern University Upon her graduation in 1973, Pryor began working for the United States Park Service She also obtained a second bachelor s degree from the University of London and a masters in history from the University of Pennsylvania In 1983, Brown joined the Department of State She formulated the policy, known as the Pryor Paper, that eventually led the United States to rejoin UNESCO in 2003.In 2008, Pryor was awarded the Lincoln Prize for Reading the Man A Portrait of Robert E Lee through his Private Letters She shared the honor with James Oakes, who won for The Radical and the Republican Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics Pryor s book is notable for using hundreds of Lee s previously unpublished private letters to create a fresh biography of the Confederate general Pryor is also the author of the biography Clara Barton Professional Angel about the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton.She was married and divorced twice, first to Anthony Pryor, then Frank Parker.Sadly, Pryor was killed in a rear end vehicle accident caused by a speeding car driven by Robert Stevens Gentil in Richmond, Virginia on April 13, 2015 Gentil s long term mental health issues led to episodes of manic delusions, including the belief on this occasion that his car was flying.She was survived by her mother, Mary Brown Hamingson, and two sisters

    887 thoughts on “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters”

    1. Students of American History in this country have long been fed the post-bellum mythology of General Robert E. Lee, the man become statue, that was created by both Southerners and Northerners alike. Pryor's book seeks to rediscover the once living man through his personal and family correspondence. Here, she lays bare for us both Lee's numerous strengths and his numerous weaknesses in full exposure.Each of the book's twenty-six chapters begins with one or several pieces of correspondence which h [...]

    2. i liked the extra information i'd not read elsewhere, but the author was intent on taking Lee down a notch & selected her material accordingly. This results in an incomplete and biased picture. better to start with a more objective bio.

    3. This is one of the most prejudicial historical books that I have ever read. The author completely disregards the subjects own statements due to her own preconceived ideas instead of what the historical facts tell us they are. Really pathetic book and not worth your time at all.

    4. This biography of Lee sets out not to supplant previous biographies, but to complement and correct them, largely on the basis of more than a thousand letters that somehow survived the ravages of the Civil War and have never been collected and published in full. Along the way, Pryor casts doubt on some enduring myths, for example, the oft-repeated claim that Lee passed up numerous lucrative business offers after the war to take on the presidency of Washington College in Lexington. The evidence fo [...]

    5. Pryor's book is neither a formal biography of Lee nor a representative selection of his letters: it is a collection of essays, organized in roughly chronological order, each of which is prefaced by a letter or two intended to introduce a given topic. The text is about 90% Pryor, and 10% correspondence, not all of which is by Lee.The results are very uneven. At times Pryor is a generous and sympathetic analyst of her subject, and then, seemingly at random, she will assume a harsh and censorious t [...]

    6. In this book, Elizabeth Brown Pryor examines the correspondence and papers of Robert E. Lee and his close friends and family to paint a personal portrait of the man. She delves into the documents, both new and previously available, and estimates in the preface that she had read over 10,000 pages written by Lee or his close associates (xii). Perhaps differing from other accounts of Lee, however, is Pryor’s focus on his personal writings as the (sometimes contradictory) authority on his thoughts [...]

    7. I liked this book very much. I have been reading about Lee all year and this was one of the best so far. Unlike Freeman, who obviously was in awe of his subject, Ms. Pryor writes a balanced, dare I say objective, book. She had extraordinary luck in having new original source material to work with, and brings a new light to just what kind of man Lee really was.

    8. Originally began reading this book as part of the Saturday reading program at Gettysburg NMP but thanks to the government shutdown it kind of broke my stride. It was helpful to discuss the letters, when we did meet, that are the focus of this book and it was the intention of the author to use them to illustrate and "humanize" the man who was Robert Edward Lee.The late author succeeds in showing that this man was just that, a man of his era who "simply harnessed his fine points - notably persiste [...]

    9. If you are looking for a traditional biography of Lee, this is not it. If you are looking for a battle by battle description of the American Civil War, this is not it. If you are looking for a collection of Robert E. Lee's letters, guess what? This is also not it. So what is it? It's more like a series of essays, generally following Lee's life, using his letters (or letters to/about him) as a jumping off point to discuss Lee's family, his service in the U.S. Army, his feelings about slavery, rac [...]

    10. Very important book for the times we live in. Was recommended reading by Ta-nehisi Coates (Five Books to Make you Less Stupid About the Civil War: theatlantic/notes/201). Really excellent book with hundreds of notes and references.

    11. An unusual conundrum as regards reviewing - on the one hand, Dr. Elizabeth Pryor has edited an excellent collection of General Robert E. Lee's letters, and she has expertly selected as exemplars letters which present a full picture of Lee the man. Her analytical essays on several of those letters, however, which constitute the bulk of the book, are illogically and poorly argued.

    12. " is hard not to conclude that Lee's inclinations and actions had powerful consequences. The point here is not whether they were right or wrong. Rather, it is to remind us how strong is the potential power of one individual in a truly democratic society, and therefore how great the burden of responsibility."

    13. This book is a bit cumbersome to read at times. It starts slow – but picks up quite a bit along the way and then tends to become very interesting. It provides good knowledge beyond just the Civil War and “iconic” structure often thrust upon Lee – allowing us to see more of the man beyond just his military exploits. I think if you are going to attempt to write on a complex person – how better than rely on some of his own material and letters. I did not leave thinking the author was atte [...]

    14. Elizabeth Brown Pryor presents Lee's biography in a different format than most readers are used to. She had access to an enormous wealth of his original letters and therefore used them to tell his life story in a new and fresh way. At the start of each chapter, Pryor reproduces a few letters that he or other people in his life have written and used them to tell a chapter in his life.I did however find the general tone of the narrative a little impersonal in a way that seemed awkward in parts. Fo [...]

    15. An extraordinarily effective and engaging biography. Pryor employs a novel technique, one unknown to me at least. She begins each chapter with an excerpt from Lee's writing of the period that she treats in that chapter, and provides an analysis of that writing as she develops that particular phase of his biography. A truly effective method, in her hands at least, for delving into the personality and affect of the man as it changes over the course of his life. At the end, I felt as if I knew the [...]

    16. If I had even a smattering of interest or sympathy for Lee, I might've found this book much more compelling. I care nothing for the Southern cause and probably even less for the people who fought for it. That being said, I guess this was about as interesting as a book I couldn't care less about could get. The beginning bored me to tears. If I don't care about Lee, why in the world would I care about his courting habits?It got a bit more interesting as the book approached the Civil War. There are [...]

    17. Simply, a superb work of historical research and analysis. Pryor cracks the marble mold of this man and takes a tenderly curious look within. For the first time in the annals of history, perhaps, we see R.E. Lee the MAN, the HUMAN. We see his faults and less attractive sides, as well as his stunning personal qualities. This is how history should be written: with an objective eye harnessed to a subtle dedication to accurate portraiture. I read this book continually every night until finished (to [...]

    18. Good example of going back to the source to demythologize a haigiographied figure using his own letters, with some fresh insight into his perception of the American Revolution through his father and the Washingtons, why he was a miserable West Point administrator, how engineering and surveying training shaped his perceptions of the US and the complicated and delayed manumission of the Custis slaves

    19. Lee was a good man. His participation in the war seemed inevitable. Maybe the consequences of all the years demanded the tragety of the civil war. However terms of that defeat could have been much more vicious and protracted. Perhaps his most valuable contribution was the nature of his surrender and abdicationA

    20. checked this out because i just read her bio of Clara Barton. then i read Kindred-- sort of related, but in an unusual way-- but now i'm looking at it's EEEEnormous.d i don't know if i am up to reading every word :)So i read as much as i coulde author did a tremendous amount of research into this tome; it's for us to appreciate and learn from.

    21. This book is in my collection. This is an excellent, excellent work. Don't particularly like the man, but the author's perspective is wonderful, brilliant, objective. I learned a lot. I learned about myself, about life, about religion, about the Civil War and other American history, lots of things. I also learned that Lee was a white supremacist and a Secessionist.

    22. Slow starter, but it picked up considerably, especially during the Civil War campaigns. Realistic down-to-earth depiction of RE Lee. At times read like an essay and wasn't strictly chronological, but overall a good read.

    23. Disappointed, I had thought the book included a collection of actual letters but there were just a few and mostly contained the authors views, which were not fact based but a random collection of third party conjecture

    24. Good book. Very detailed about Lee's life. I used to have a set theory on Lee but after reading this book about him my opinion of him has changed drastically. I would recommend this book to anyone.

    25. Lee was a much more complex man than his iconic image makes him appear. There is lots to admire about the man, and lots offend modern sensibilities.

    26. 4.5 stars. As definitive a biography on Lee as I have ever read. A wonderful book. (Winner of the 2008 Lincoln Prize.)

    27. This book will give you new insights to Robert E. Lee. Qualities of his life that are not often mentioned.

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