Robert E. Lee's father, "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, a revolutionary war hero, abandoned his family and left them penniless. Because his mother was often ill, young Robert grew up having to be in charge. He enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy because it was an ideal career for a hero's son and because it was free, graduating without a single demerit, an Academy record never equaled.
The young officer was admired for his kindness, generosity, and courtesy. He disliked slavery and was opposed to the idea of secession. But his loyalty to Virginia, and to his friends and family there, convinced him to join the Rebel cause, and he served the Confederacy with intelligence, skill, and honor.
Lee's tactics are still studied today by military strategists, and his victory at Chancellorsville is considered a masterpiece of military planning. Albert Marrin describes this battle, as well as Lee's other successes and failures, such as the Seven Days, Antietam, and Gettysburg, in clear detail, and portrays as well the lives, hopes, amusements, and deaths of ordinary soldiers, Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks, caught up in this struggle that often put family members on opposite sides.
The Civil War, as fought by Lee, comes to vivid life in this biography. Lee, the man, comes to life as well, and his devotion to a losing cause is shown in all its nobility and despair.