David Alan Johnson

Battle of Wills: Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and the Last Year of the Civil War

Battle of Wills: Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and the Last Year of the Civil War

Historians have long analyzed the battles and the military strategies that brought the American Civil War to an end. Going beyond tactics and troop maneuvers, this book concentrates on the characters of the two opposing generals–Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant–showing how their different temperaments ultimately determined the course of the war. As author David Alan Johnson explains, Grant’s dogged and fearless determination eventually gained the upper hand over Lee’s arguably superior military brilliance.

Delving into their separate upbringings, the book depicts Grant as a working-class man from Ohio and Lee as a Virginia aristocrat. Both men were strongly influenced by their fathers. Grant learned a lesson in determination as he watched his father overcome economic hardships to make a successful living as a tanner and leather goods dealer. By contrast, Lee did his best to become the polar opposite of his father, a man whose bankruptcy and imprisonment for unpaid debts brought disgrace upon the family. Lee cultivated a manner of unimpeachable respectability and patrician courtesy, which in the field of battle did not always translate into decisive orders.

Underscoring the tragedy of this fratricidal conflict, the author recounts episodes from the earlier Mexican war (1846-1848), when Grant and Lee and many other officers who would later oppose each other were comrades in arms.

This vivid narrative brings to life a crucial turning point in American history, showing how character and circumstances combined to have a decisive influence on the course of events.

Selected Works

Civil War Non-Fiction, Psychology
How the backgrounds of Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant influenced their campaign against each other in Virginia in 1864 and 1865.
History
Abraham Lincoln's re-election in 1864 was decided on the batlefields of Virginia and Georgia as much as at the ballot box.
J. Edgar Hoover sends an innocent man to prison to save his own reputation. Includes chapter on the Bush Administration's use of this case as a precedent for military tribunals to try terrorist suspects.
The relationship between Britain and the United States has been long, frequently contentious, and sometimes comical.
How anti-Nazi Intelligence officers tricked Hitler regarding the time and place of D-Day.
Britain not only had to fight the German Luftwaffe, but also had to battle isolationism in the US.