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Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's…
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Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost… (original 2021; édition 2021)

par Ty Seidule (Auteur)

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Membre:jackscherer1
Titre:Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause
Auteurs:Ty Seidule (Auteur)
Info:St. Martin's Press (2021), 304 pages
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Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause par Ty Seidule (2021)

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Face the Truth as Forthrightly

Admitting that a belief you’ve held, particularly one you have held and those surrounding you have held, for your entire life isn’t easy. Just ask anyone who has done so. Harder still is sharing the truth and convincing others that what they’ve held dear is nothing but a pack of lies. So, when someone of the stature of Ty Seidule refutes in no uncertain terms one of the biggest, most pervasive, most pernicious, and most enduring lies in American history, you have to hope that people enveloped in that lie will closely examine themselves. That big lie is the Lost Cause myth of the American South, a lie so powerful and so often repeated, it has taken root throughout the United States, even for decades at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Given the diatribes directed at Seidule, the repetition of the big lie, the refusal to accept fact, even when presented with the words and writings of those who concocted it to wage war on the United States to preserve human slavery into perpetuity and to hold African Americans in subjugation for more than a century after the end of the Civil War, you’d not be blamed for being disheartened. To those, read Seidule’s book and take hope and action in his last paragraph:

“Racism is the virus in the American dirt, infecting everything and everyone. To combat racism, we must do more than acknowledge the long history of white supremacy. Policies must change. Yet, an understanding of history remains the foundation. The only way to prevent a racist future is to first understand our racist past.”

Seidule isn’t a voice you can dismiss lightly. He was raised as a Southerner, fully and firmly inculcated in the Lost Cause myth and the worship of the man elevated as the South’s first son and greatest defender, Robert E. Lee. For most of his life, Seidule regarded Lee as his hero, the ultimate Southern gentleman devoted to and righteous in his cause. Seidule attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, long the stalwart of Lee worship. Only when he left the South and furthered his education as both a historian and American soldier did he come to see the truth of what caused the Civil War and the lies conjured up to defend slavery and then a full blown campaign of terror against African Americans. Seidule was commissioned in the United States Army, where he rose through the ranks to retire as brigadier general, head of the history department at the United States Military Academy, and its first emeritus professor of history. Before these honors, he held commands, including a cavalry unit in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Gulf War, to cite just one active position. For those Americans who hold the American military in the highest regard, could there be a more credible source for debunking perhaps the biggest lie ever told and firmly grasped in American history? You’d be hard pressed to find one.

After you finish Robert E. Lee and Me, for more on the Lost Cause big lie, you’ll want to read among the two best histories on the subject: David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory and Caroline E. Janney, Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. And if you refuse to believe that the primary cause of secession and war was slavery, then read the Constitution of the Confederate States and the various state Secession Declarations. The secessionists couldn’t have been more explicit. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Face the Truth as Forthrightly

Admitting that a belief you’ve held, particularly one you have held and those surrounding you have held, for your entire life isn’t easy. Just ask anyone who has done so. Harder still is sharing the truth and convincing others that what they’ve held dear is nothing but a pack of lies. So, when someone of the stature of Ty Seidule refutes in no uncertain terms one of the biggest, most pervasive, most pernicious, and most enduring lies in American history, you have to hope that people enveloped in that lie will closely examine themselves. That big lie is the Lost Cause myth of the American South, a lie so powerful and so often repeated, it has taken root throughout the United States, even for decades at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Given the diatribes directed at Seidule, the repetition of the big lie, the refusal to accept fact, even when presented with the words and writings of those who concocted it to wage war on the United States to preserve human slavery into perpetuity and to hold African Americans in subjugation for more than a century after the end of the Civil War, you’d not be blamed for being disheartened. To those, read Seidule’s book and take hope and action in his last paragraph:

“Racism is the virus in the American dirt, infecting everything and everyone. To combat racism, we must do more than acknowledge the long history of white supremacy. Policies must change. Yet, an understanding of history remains the foundation. The only way to prevent a racist future is to first understand our racist past.”

Seidule isn’t a voice you can dismiss lightly. He was raised as a Southerner, fully and firmly inculcated in the Lost Cause myth and the worship of the man elevated as the South’s first son and greatest defender, Robert E. Lee. For most of his life, Seidule regarded Lee as his hero, the ultimate Southern gentleman devoted to and righteous in his cause. Seidule attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, long the stalwart of Lee worship. Only when he left the South and furthered his education as both a historian and American soldier did he come to see the truth of what caused the Civil War and the lies conjured up to defend slavery and then a full blown campaign of terror against African Americans. Seidule was commissioned in the United States Army, where he rose through the ranks to retire as brigadier general, head of the history department at the United States Military Academy, and its first emeritus professor of history. Before these honors, he held commands, including a cavalry unit in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Gulf War, to cite just one active position. For those Americans who hold the American military in the highest regard, could there be a more credible source for debunking perhaps the biggest lie ever told and firmly grasped in American history? You’d be hard pressed to find one.

After you finish Robert E. Lee and Me, for more on the Lost Cause big lie, you’ll want to read among the two best histories on the subject: David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory and Caroline E. Janney, Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. And if you refuse to believe that the primary cause of secession and war was slavery, then read the Constitution of the Confederate States and the various state Secession Declarations. The secessionists couldn’t have been more explicit. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Ty Seidule’s Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause was not an easy book for me to read and consider. My reluctance to read the book stemmed from my nervousness that a handful of my boyhood heroes were going to be exposed as frauds. But that’s not exactly what happened. Rather, I learned that those boyhood heroes of mine, while not the men I was taught they were, never pretended that they were. No, the actual frauds turned out to be the historians who for decades after the Civil War pretended that these heroes of mine were people they really never came close to resembling in real life. According to Seidule, the Lost Cause was the fraud, not the Confederate Army generals who fought so long, hard, and bravely to keep millions of black slaves in chains. The generals knew who they were and why they were fighting…and so did their contemporaries.

Seidule is a man who literally grew up in Robert E. Lee’s shadow. He is a Virginian by birth who spent much of his boyhood in Georgia. He is a military man of decades experience, and he taught history to West Point cadets for a number of years. He is a graduate of Virginia’s Washington and Lee University. You just can’t get much more “deep South” than that. He grew up on myths about the Civil War that, especially following the 2015 violence in Charlottesville, were finally being challenged even in the South. He puts it this way:

“The problem is that the myths I learned were just flat-out, fundamentally wrong. And not just wrong in a moral sense, as if that weren’t significant enough, but wrong factually, whether through deception, denial, or willful ignorance. The myths and lies I learned promoted a form of racial hierarchy and white supremacy.”

Then, at the end of the book’s first chapter, the author begins to make his case with one particularly telling paragraph:

“The Civil War left between 650,000 and 750,000 dead because the Confederates fought to create a slave republic based on a morally bankrupt ideology of white supremacy. White southerners went to war to protect and expand chattel slavery but suffered a catastrophic defeat…Yet the former Confederates succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in changing the narrative of the Civil War. Lee’s biographer Douglas Southall Freeman wrote to the Pulitzer Prize-winning southern novelist Ellen Glasgow, ‘We Southerners had one consolation. If our fathers lost the war, you and Margaret Mitchell…have won the peace.’”

Even the titles of the book’s following six chapters are revealing:

Chapter 2 My Hometown: A Hidden History of Slavery, Jim Crow, and Integration
Chapter 3 My Adopted Hometown: A Hidden History as “Lynchtown”
Chapter 4 My College: The Shrine of the Lost Cause
Chapter 5 My Military Career: Glorifying Confederates in the U.S. Army
Chapter 6 My Academic Career: Glorifying Robert E. Lee at West Point
Chapter 7 My Verdict: Robert E. Lee Committed Treason to Preserve Slavery

Robert E. Lee and Me recounts one man’s journey, but it is a journey that more and more Southerners are embarking upon these days. Seidule’s book, including its thirty pages of footnotes, is a good place to begin that journey. It is a reminder, too, that history books are not to be taken at face value, and this includes the history books being written today as well as the ones written earlier. Readers will do well to keep this in mind because today’s historians are no more trustworthy than those of the past. History is written by the “victor,” and it always will be. ( )
  SamSattler | Aug 12, 2021 |
Seidule, Ty. Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause. St. Martin’s Press, 2021.
Ty Seidule has written an impassioned memoir and history that shows us how to confront the historical myths many of us have grown up with and see around us every day. He grew up idolizing Robert E. Lee, attending Washington and Lee University and becoming a career Army officer and teacher of military history at West Point. Even as a young officer, he says, he aspired to be the kind of Virginia gentleman that he believed Lee to epitomize. His study of history, however, taught him that the Civil War was not the noble Lost Cause of Gone with the Wind and that Lee never regarded African Americans as fully human. The Civil War was a war to keep human beings enslaved and not a defense of states’ rights and an idyllic way of life. Plantations, he says, would be better termed “enslaved labor farms.” Lee, he argues, violated his oath and committed treason when he joined the Confederate army. He was an effective college president after the war, but the never changed his racist views and does not deserve statues in his honor. Seidule details the process by which Lee and his lost cause became mythologized, even by the United States Army against which he fought. He also explains the often hidden racist history of the Southern towns in which he grew up. Along the way, he makes a powerful case for removing many of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era monuments to the Confederacy and for renaming the Army bases named after Confederate soldiers like Benning and Bragg. He is a bit repetitive now and then but that is a minor flaw. A strong four stars. ( )
  Tom-e | May 19, 2021 |
A compelling and unflinching look at the history behind America's cultural response to the Civil War, where in the name of unity, traitors were deified rather than castigated, where the losers were allowed to control the narrative and whitewash the true causes of the rebellion. The book is especially powerful because it is told by a native son of the South, who grew up steeped in the lies and believing the myths. We can't change change history, and there is no way to truly make it right, but facing the truth is an important first step in seeking justice. Highly recommended. ( )
  RandyRasa | Mar 1, 2021 |
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