Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters
By Elizabeth Brown Pryor
Why this book?
Pryor’s work has become essential for scholars of Robert E. Lee. She had access to numerous unpublished documents from Lee’s descendants, and used this invaluable material to provide a more complete and realistic portrait of the man. In one chapter, she explores Lee’s complex attitudes toward slavery. She writes, “He embraced the legal and economic aspects of the master-slave system without really grasping its complex underlying relationships.” The Lost Cause notion that Lee opposed slavery is not supported by the evidence. Pryor provides new insights on his decision to resign from the army in 1861, and offers a detailed account of the creation of Arlington National Cemetery at Lee’s former estate.
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