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Fierce Patriot

The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


NATIONAL BESTSELLER • William Tecumseh Sherman was more than just one of our greatest generals. Fierce Patriot is a bold, revisionist portrait of how this iconic and enigmatic figure exerted an outsize impact on the American landscape—and the American character.
America’s first “celebrity” general, William Tecumseh Sherman was a man of many faces. Some were exalted in the public eye, others known only to his intimates. In this bold, revisionist portrait, Robert L. O’Connell captures the man in full for the first time. From his early exploits in Florida, through his brilliant but tempestuous generalship during the Civil War, to his postwar career as a key player in the building of the transcontinental railroad, Sherman was, as O’Connell puts it, the “human embodiment of Manifest Destiny.” Here is Sherman the military strategist, a master of logistics with an uncanny grasp of terrain and brilliant sense of timing. Then there is “Uncle Billy,” Sherman’s public persona, a charismatic hero to his troops and quotable catnip to the newspaper writers of his day. Here, too, is the private Sherman, whose appetite for women, parties, and the high life of the New York theater complicated his already turbulent marriage. Warrior, family man, American icon, William Tecumseh Sherman has finally found a biographer worthy of his protean gifts. A masterful character study whose myriad insights are leavened with its author’s trademark wit, Fierce Patriot will stand as the essential book on Sherman for decades to come.

Praise for Fierce Patriot
“A superb examination of the many facets of the iconic Union general.”—General David Petraeus
“Sherman’s standing in American history is formidable. . . . It is hard to imagine any other biography capturing it all in such a concise and enlightening fashion.”National Review
“A sharply drawn and propulsive march through the tortured psyche of the man.”The Wall Street Journal
“[O’Connell’s] narrative of the March to the Sea is perhaps the best I have ever read.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“A surprising, clever, wise, and powerful book.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff

From Publishers Weekly

May 05, 2014 – Considered by various contemporaries to be insane, ruthless, and brilliant, William Tecumseh Sherman is a hard man to pin down. Here, O'Connell (The Ghosts of Cannae) expresses his concerns about unreadable academic histories and shallow popular histories by journalists "who often lack the background to see deep trends and long-term causation," and instead focuses on Sherman as a strategist, soldier, and family man. However, the relationships O'Connell draws between activities in Sherman's life feel forced, as with his likening military strategy to surfing: "Big waves and battle leave little room for piggishness." Similarly, O'Connell employs rather idiosyncratic imagery, noting that Sherman was a "visual vacuum cleaner," and that he and his wife were "mated like geese." This manner of shaking the dust off Sherman's story distracts from the portrait that O'Connell builds. Details like Sherman's involvement with the discovery of gold in California in 1849, his genuine heartbreak when the South seceded, and even his apparent blindness to the horrors of slavery seem overshadowed by the writer's techniques. O'Connell's delivery of Sherman's story is frustrating, especially because of the richness of the subject.

Customer Reviews

Interesting Character

We'll written and interesting narrative of one of the major figures of the Civil War. I did find the author's jumping back to Sherman's Civil War period after concluding the story of his contributions to the Transcontinental Railroad a bit jarring. Would have preferred that this commentary have been included earlier, but in the end the information was worthwhile. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

Fierce Patriot
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jul 01, 2014
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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