Embattled Rebel by James McPherson isn’t your standard biography of Jefferson Davis because it doesn’t look at every facet of his life, instead McPherson looks at how he performed his duties as President of the Confederacy. By drawing extensively on Davis’ personal correspondence and contemporary sources, McPherson creates a readable portrayal of a man fiercely dedicated to his ideals.— Andrew
Embattled Rebel by James McPherson isn’t your standard biography of Jefferson Davis because it doesn’t look at every facet of his life, instead McPherson looks at how he performed his duties as President of the Confederacy. By drawing extensively on Davis’ personal correspondence and contemporary sources, McPherson creates a readable portrayal of a man fiercely dedicated to his ideals.— From Andrew P.
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, a powerful new reckoning with Jefferson Davis as military commander of the Confederacy
“The best concise book we have on the subject… McPherson is… our most distinguished scholar of the Civil War era.” —The New York Times Book Review
History has not been kind to Jefferson Davis. Many Americans of his own time and in later generations considered him an incompetent leader, not to mention a traitor. Not so, argues James M. McPherson. In Embattled Rebel, McPherson shows us that Davis might have been on the wrong side of history, but that it is too easy to diminish him because of his cause’s failure. Gravely ill throughout much of the Civil War, Davis nevertheless shaped and articulated the principal policy of the Confederacy—the quest for independent nationhood—with clarity and force. He exercised a tenacious hands-on influence in the shaping of military strategy, and his close relationship with Robert E. Lee was one of the most effective military-civilian partnerships in history.
Lucid and concise, Embattled Rebel presents a fresh perspective on the Civil War as seen from the desk of the South’s commander in chief.
About the Author
James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He is the bestselling author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as Tried by War and For Cause and Comrades, both of which won the Lincoln Prize.
Steven Hahn, The New York Times Book Review:
“The best concise book we have on the subject… McPherson is… our most distinguished scholar of the Civil War era.”
The Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. McPherson…mounts a defense of Davis is provocative; the book in which he argues it is quietly persuasive…. Mr. McPherson covers a great deal of ground. And there is an economical grace to his prose that makes the book a lightning-quick but lingering read that will appeal not only to Civil War buffs but also to those curious about the Southern presidency and government.”
The Washington Post:
“[A] fine study of Davis’s military leadership….To this day it is difficult for many Americans to view Davis with dispassion, but McPherson has made a noble attempt to do so….Davis himself does not make that easy.”
Christian Science Monitor:
“Open minds are in short supply today, so it is refreshing that Civil War scholar and Pulitzer-winning author James M. McPherson has taken a fresh look at a subject with which is he eminently familiar: the life and times of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. With more than a dozen books about America’s greatest crucible to his credit, the 78-year-old author is still challenging past postulations.”
North South Magazine:
“Superb... McPherson succeeds admirably in recreating the world of 1861-1865 as seen through the eyes of a Southern nationalist and ardent defender of the established social order, and provides readers with a more balanced view of Davis than that handed down by many of his contemporaries."
History Book Club:
“The first work to discretely consider Davis as head of his armies and navy... Crisply written, thoughtfully considered, and ultimately persuasive, Embattled Rebel is McPherson and biography at their best.”