I want to read this again because it’s different from any book, at least any history book, I’ve ever read. This is a history/memoir as an historian would write it and it’s about his own personal experience as it relates to history as well as current situations and events.
The book got a wee bit boring in Chapter 4 I thnk so I left off reading for awhile and picked up a gritty crime novel. Okay fine. I got back to the Siedule and it took off in high gear again, interest piqued and stayed way high.
Robert E Lee and Me:
A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause
By Ty Seidule
2021 / 295 pages
Read by author
Rating – 10 / history / memoir
(both read and listened)
The book is listed as Military History on the Audible website and I’ve never seen that as a category before. Amazon doesn’t classify it other than to say it’s a Kindle e-Book. I’d say it was memoir/history/current affairs but I’m open.
The reviewer-quotes at Amazon include blurbs from the usual sources (LA Review of Books) and academic history sources (Charles B. Dew, James M. McPherson,) along with military and Civil War specialists. All glowing – even General David Petraius.
It’s both ironic and sad that Siedule had to give up his commission before he could tell the truth.
Contents – (And yes, folks there are great footnotes.)
Chapter 1 – Raised on the White Southern Myth
Chapter 2 – My Hometown; A Hidden History of Slavery … (Alexandria VA)
Chapter 3 – My Adopted Hometown – Walton County, Georgia
Chapter 4 – My College – (Washington and Lee in Lexington, VA)
Chapter 5 – My Military Career – (locations and histories)
Chapter 6 – My Academic Career (West Point)
Chapter 7 – My Verdict – Robert E. Lee and Treason
Epilogue – A Southern Soldier Confronts the Lost Cause
As a native born Son-of-the-South Siedule was raised on the myth of the Lost Cause and Robert E. Lee and all the rest of it right down to the ugliest of white supremacy. Wanting to be a “Southern Gentleman” he attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia before moving ahead with his Army commission, then a PhD and eventually to being the head of the history department at West Point. He has numerous other positions, awards and publications to his name.
And as the book moves through those events he interlaces the fundamentally racist bias of the South, the army and even the US less directly. His point is that Lee was a traitor and Lee knew it. His secondary point is that the South reveres him anyway (to this day) and will continue to do so until they know and internalize the truth. Siedule tells the unvarnished truth, unvarnished by what the South and it’s racists would have us believe. First- slavery was ugly. Second the Civil War was about slavery. Third Robert E. Lee was a traitor.
And this is what the book sticks to in a well-organized and detailed way. It’s a powerful book. The footnotes are incredible.
A few reviews from Amazon – there are many more:
“Retired Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule’s gripping Robert E. Lee and Me is required reading for those wanting to participate in the conversation concerning Confederate memorialization, the “Lost Cause,” or the troubled history of race in America.” -Army Magazine
A carefully considered and compulsively readable account of the Lost Cause’s rise and resilience. –Civil War Monitor
“In this profoundly moving memoir distinguished by moral courage and intellectual integrity, Ty Seidule chronicles his agonizing journey of discovery…Everyone interested in the Civil War and its continuing importance in American culture should read this unflinchingly honest book.” –Professor James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“A timely, powerful, compelling – and courageous – book. In Robert E. Lee and Me, Brigadier General Ty Seidule takes readers on a fascinating intellectual journey…This is a book of enormous importance and tremendous insight, a book that only a true southerner – and a true historian – could have written.” –General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan and former Director of the CIA
“Ty Seidule has written an extraordinary tale of a great change, but unlike most, his is one of intellectual, cultural, and moral transformation….a powerful story of a southern man who confronted the myths of his youth and concluded that there is no room in the United States Army or American society for Lost Cause mythology.” –Joseph Glatthaar, author of General Lee’s Army and Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill