GENERAL LEE’S ARMY FROM VICTORY TO COLLAPSE by Joseph T. Glatthaar, read by Robertson Dean. Unabridged.

A terrific biography of the Army of Northern Virginia and its relationship with its commander, R.E. Lee. The narrative sometimes gets bogged down in minutia of demographics that becomes boring very quickly, although it is necessary for the story and the background to the events that enveloped the army, but for the most part it moves quickly and is pretty interesting. The reader also does a fine job. Virtually required listening for the Civil War buff.

The book has a majesty that transcends the topic; as much as Lee and his legendary army have been romanticized, the truth is that serving in the Army of Northern Virginia was a harsh, often horrid experience fraught with many types of danger. Food was often scarce, clothing threadbare, good shoes worth their weight in gold and disease rampant. This book brings these realities home to the reader (or in this case, the listener) in a fashion that makes them seem quite real.

Even the most astute student of the Civil War will find much new in this book. This reviewer already knew a lot about the subject, having just written a paper on almost this very topic less than a year previously, and yet at least 30% of this book was new to him, and the parts that were not new were explained in a new way.