In this well-crafted narrative, Reeves demystifies the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the reasons he was given amnesty after the Civil War.... Reeves offers a timely portrait of how the cults of Lee and the states’ rights lost cause became firmly entrenched in American culture within only 25 years of the Civil War—and still haunt 21st-century debates over Confederate monuments and battle flags.
A provocative work of history and cultural analysis.... Mr. Reeves, a journalist and former history teacher, does an able job of untangling the shifting public sentiment, tactical misjudgments and legal ordeals that shaped the indictment and ultimately crippled it.
Perhaps nothing demonstrated the unwillingness of Americans to come to terms with the bloody history of 1861–1865 so well as their veneration of Robert E. Lee. For decades (and without a sense of irony), northerners and southerners acclaimed the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia as an authentic national hero. . . . John Reeves’ new book, however, “tells the story of the forgotten legal and moral case that was made against the Confederate general in the days after the Civil War.” In his lively and accessible narrative, Reeves relates “the history Americans tried to forget.”