Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman
Publisher: Recorded Books
Date: July 2014
Duration: 15 hours 6 minutes
With a unique, witty, and conversational voice historian Robert O'Connell breaks down the often paradoxical, easily caricatured character of General William T. Sherman for the most well-rounded portrait of the man yet written. There were many Shermans, according to O'Connell. Most prominently was Sherman the military strategist (indeed, one of the greatest strategists of all time), who gained an appreciation of geography from early campaigns out west and applied it to his famed Civil War march. Then there was "Uncle Billy", Sherman's popular persona, the charismatic and beloved leader of the Army of the West, and instrumental in the achievement of the transcontinental railroad in his post-war years.
This Sherman, as O'Connell writes, was "the human embodiment of manifest destiny." From north to south and east to west, Sherman dedicated his life to keeping the United States united. Finally, there was Sherman the family man, whose tempestuous relationship with his wife (and stepsister!) Ellen is out of a Dickens novel. Throughout, O'Connell breaks down the misperceptions about Sherman, bolstered both by contemporary journalists and by the work of modern historians. O'Connell makes a compelling case that Sherman's march through the south was not a campaign of unmitigated destruction, but a necessary piece of strategy and the perceived chaos has been overblown. O'Connell's Sherman is ultimately a complicated and quintessential nineteenth-century American. Robert O' Connell worked as Senior Analyst at the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency's Foreign Science and Technology Center and was a contributing editor to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History.