Book of the Month

Crucible_of_CommandCrucible of Command:  Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee–The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged.

The American Civil War continues to hold sway over us both as a country and as a people.  One only has to view the many titles that are still being published on this war that is now 150+ years ago.

Given this interest with the conflict, myself included, I was recently asked to review a title by William C. Davis called Crucible of Command:  Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee–The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged.  Published by De Capo Press, I was immediately facinated and enthralled with this title.

The reason?  Simply put, it’s a new spin on the lives and interactions of two men made in part by the Civil War:  Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.  Let me share with you a bit more about it.

About the Book

William C. Davis is well known for his extensive work on the subject of the American Civil War.  This newest one is no exception.  Unlike some of his previous titles (Concise History of the Civil War, The Guns of ’62 (Time-Life), and others), Davis zeroes in completely on these two leaders exclusively.  We see the backstory of their lives with their families and the battles themselves.  The key point I found interesting was the depth of information, written as such so that we see these men as persons, and not just history or names to be considered as important.

As an example, Davis profiles the human side of Lee, his worries and concern for the men under his command as well as his attitudes towards the Northern armies.  On the other hand, the author also profiles Grant’s continued business-like approach to the war (via administrative staffing, etc.), with the northern establishment and leadership leaning on his judgement and growing influence during the course of the war.

Contents and Chapters

Far from just facts and stacks of information, Davis gives us more information about Grant and Lee than many books have before.  A continued analysis of battles and troop movements, interspersed with personal correspondence and national outlook are noted throughout the work.  Chapters include:

  • Family life and background
  • West Point years
  • The years before the Civil War
  • Individual battles during the war
  • Postwar information

However, in the end, the context in which Davis put them together makes the title readable and interesting for all, not just historians.


My Thoughts

For fans of the Civil War, personalities of famous persons, or those just interested in learning more about Grant, Lee, and their interactions during the conflict, you’ll like this title.  It contains information both about the conflict as well as life outside of battle.  Lists of extensive notes, good indexing, and the layout mark this work as a “must-read” for any researcher or Civil War enthusiast.  Huge section of images are located within, and battle maps help to bring both scale and information on specific parts of the war.

Weighing in with more than 600 pages, it’s not a quick read, but in the end very readable!  You can find it both as a hardback and ebook, so be sure and check the listed links for more details.  I’ve also included some additional reviews for a few more tidbits.

Book Information:

Da Capo Press Catalog Listing

Price: $32.50

Pages: 600+

ISBN: 978-0-306-82245-2

Google Books Entry

OCLC WorldCat Entry

Wall St. Journal Book Review

Goodreads Reviews


Thanks again for stopping by the blog and I hope that you’ve enjoyed this particular review.

Stay Tuned!