Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause

St. Martin’s. Jan. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781250239266. $27.99. HIST
In 2015, Seidule produced a short video making the case that the Southern states seceded from the United States in order to create a slave-based republic. The video went viral and Seidule, a U.S. army colonel and historian at West Point, became a target of Confederate apologists, even receiving death threats. This book grew out of that video, and in it the author examines the power that the “Lost Cause” myth had over him when he was young and how he came to realize its fiction. Seidule grew up attending schools in Virginia and Georgia where the Lost Cause and veneration of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee were part of the culture. As he began to study the American Civil War and post–Reconstruction eras, he learned that the version of history he was taught was inaccurate. He makes a solid case that leaders of the Confederate states should not be honored because they betrayed their oaths to uphold the Constitution and in fact fought to destroy the very nation they were sworn to protect.
VERDICT Seidule openly confronts his own indifference to racism, and this absorbing book will be of value to anyone interested in how history informs our present.
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