I have to preface this review by admitting that although I am a lover of history, I would never in a million years call myself a “military history buff”. That’s why I was really shocked to discover how much I enjoyed reading Sherman the Ruthless Victor by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin. In fact, I am going to read more in this series “The Generals”, as soon as I can.
There were so many times in this book that I found myself thinking “What century are they talking about again?” In the years before the Civil War Sherman is in California at the exact time that gold is discovered. It seems like everyone is making large amounts of money but him. There is a huge bubble economy in California… and then it goes bust. Sherman ends up selling his house at a 40% loss. He gets into baking… and boom, the Panic of 1857. Sherman goes from having a bright future, servants, and a big house for his family, to living in a shack in the middle of Kansas. All of his education, military training and potential seem for naught, and he still has a family to support. In the middle of this, Sherman is totally fed up with politicians of the day because the Whigs and the Democrats can’t seem to agree about anything. Does any of this sound relevant to our present?
Just when I would start feeling some sympathy for Sherman the authors would include yet another example of what a really bad guy he was. He was a white supremacist, pro-slavery, a racist, and seemingly sexist as well. And oh yeah! Sherman introduced the concept of total war, and led his men in actions in the Civil War that in many ways could be considered crimes against humanity. I am sure there are many Southerners and Native Americans who wish he had stayed in that shack in Kansas.
My own family history lies both north and sound of the Mason Dixon Line, and I found this book really fascinating to read. Sherman traveled all over America through the course of his military career, so there are interesting tidbits of what life was like in multiple parts of the country in the 1800s.
I’ve also always wanted to know more about Sherman because of the WWII tank that was named after him. Yes, I know I said I wasn’t a military history buff, but I am interested in the 744st Tank Battalion which my Grandpa served in. He drove a Sherman tank onto the Normandy beaches on D Day. Now I understand the meaning behind naming that tank a whole lot better. I’m going to pass this book along to my dad to read next. I really think he is going to like it.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinions and review.