Few names from the era loom as large as those of the top generals from North and South each: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. In story and fable, both men have been elevated to the place of myth.
Author William C. Davis (Three Roads to the Alamo, The Pirates Lafitte) combs through the four historical meetings the two men actually had in an effort to uncover details that might have impacted where they both ended up.
Davis has said that Crucible of Command (Da Capo) is not a conventional biography. “I’m not interested detailing every incident of their lives.” Rather, “the focus is on their moral and ethical worlds, what they felt and believed and why.”
On that journey, Davis states more than once that, without the Civil War, neither man would have come close to his potential. “Without the war, Grant would have remained a civilian working in his father’s leather goods store… Lee… was dissatisfied with the army, with his life and just about everything else when the war came. It is not too much to say that both were heading nowhere when the war plucked them out of their old lives.”
Once activated, though, both men had a huge part in shaping the post-war nation.
Davis is the author of more than 50 books, and he demonstrates his experience in Crucible of Command, a magisterial dual biography that rises far, far above the average. Davis balances fact and research with searing action and penetrating personality. This very entertaining history is much more than the sum of its parts. ◊