I was almost hesitant to post this book review today as we are remembering the tragic events in New York nine years ago. Upon further contemplation, however, I couldn’t help but think it an extremely appropriate day to remember other times of great American tragedies and a worthy hero whose life stands out in the midst of such tragedy.
The time of tragedy is the Civil War and the hero is none other than Robert E. Lee. Although history books have frequently been quite unkind to the memory of General R. E. Lee, he has always been a man I have admired. Biographer John Perry seems to share that admiration.
So much constituted the person of Robert E. Lee – so much more than I could even begin to summarize in a book review. In Lee: A Life of Virtue, John Perry weaves together the story of the general’s love for life, his wife, and his family – a man with a witty sense of humor and a passion for children. He shows Lee’s powerful ties to the foundational history of the United States, including the family and property of George Washington himself. He describes how the strengths and incredibly honor of Lee’s character also proved to be his flaws and, in many cases, the cause for his failures and criticism.
Even more beautifully, Perry shows the progression of Lee’s faith. Even before their marriage, the journal of Lee’s wife Mary shows her faithful prayers for the man she loved. She knew that he respected her faith, but had no assurance that he shared it. I can only imagine the delight of her heart when her husband finally and openly acknowledged his own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although Perry’s biography was occasionally disjointed and difficult to follow, I also found it to be riveting. This is definitely a biography that I highly recommend and that will remain on our bookshelf to be read and reread by every member of the family.