Reading the Man

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

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"Pryor's biography helps part with a lot of stupid out there about Lee - chiefly, that he was, somehow, 'anti-slavery.'" - Ta-Nehisi Coates, An "unorthodox, critical, and engaging biography" (Boston Globe) - Winner of The Lincoln Prize

Robert E. Lee is remembered by history as a tragic figure, stoic and brave but distant and enigmatic. Using dozens of previously unpublished letters as departure points, Pryor produces a stunning personal account of Lee's military ability, shedding new light on every aspect of the complex and contradictory general's life story. Explained for the first time in the context of the young United States's tumultuous societal developments, Lee's actions reveal a man forced to play a leading role in the formation of the nation at the cost of his private happiness.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 658 pages
  • 137.16 x 205.74 x 38.1mm | 612.35g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Frontispiece; Illustrations, black and white
  • 0143113909
  • 9780143113904
  • 681,031

Review quote

"Pryor's biography of Lee, chiefly through Lee's own words, helps part with a lot of stupid out there about Lee - chiefly, that he was, somehow, 'anti-slavery.'" - Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War," "In this epistolary biography, Pryor uses Robert E. Lee's letters as a launching pad for essays that discuss his life story and military record . . . Lee's correspondence is well-written and revealing, and Pryor complements it with intelligent insight and analysis." - The New York Times

"Pryor has taken an icon and given us the soul of a complex man and his turbulent age."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Elizabeth Pryor's magnificent Reading the Man forever buries the tired assumption that the real Robert E. Lee can never be found. Her exhaustive research and beautiful prose recover the many layers of Lee's being."
--Peter Carmichael, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"An orthodox, critical, and engaging biography. . . . [Pryor] impressively captures Lee's character and personality."
--The Boston Globe

"Pryor moves onto important historical and interpretive terrain with a far more discerning and critical eye than most of her scholarly or popular predecessors."
--The New Republic
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About Elizabeth Brown Pryor

Elizabeth Brown Pryor (1951-2015) combined careers as an award-winning historian and a senior diplomat in the American Foreign Service. She was the author of the biography Clara Barton: Professional Angel, considered the authoritative work on the founder of the American Red Cross, and Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters, which won the 2008 Lincoln Prize, the 2007 Jefferson Davis Award, the 2008 Richard B. Harwell Book Award, and the 2007 Richard S. Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginia Biography. Her final book, Six Encounters With Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons, was published posthumously in February 2017.
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Rating details

252 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 38% (95)
4 36% (91)
3 18% (46)
2 5% (13)
1 3% (7)
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