Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Lee: The Last Years"

While in seminary, I had no time to read anything other than theology books. After seminary, due to what was ingrained in me, I just didn't bother to read anything other than theology books. Recently, I have found myself in a rut; this may sound a bit blasphemous, but I'm a bit tired of theology texts.

I realized that I need to mix up what I read a bit. My desire is to read more broadly, taking in books about history, literature, philosophy, politics, culture, etc. My desire in this is two-fold: first, I hope this broadens my ability to talk with unbelievers about more topics than I am currently able. Second, I hope this causes me to have more of a desire to jump back into theology texts.

I just completed reading my first non-theology book (it does contain discussion about Lee's Christian faith, but that is not the focus). I'm pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Lee: The Last Years. This book focuses on, appropriately, the last five years of Robert E. Lee's life. While our history books tend to forget Lee after his surrender at Appomattox, the reality is that he had a profound impact on our country from his surrender until his death five years later (in 1870).

Soon after the end of the Civil War, Lee was named president of Washington College (later renamed Washington and Lee University). During his time there, he not only acted as head of the university but also was one of the greatest forces for reuniting the country after the war. Knowing that many people, especially in the South, were looking to Lee for guidance in how to react to the Northern victory, Lee consistently advised obedience and service to the existing government.

Having grown up in the North, but now living in the South, my views on the Civil War are mixed. It is interesting to read a book that focuses on not only the war, but also the aftermath. I appreciate Robert E. Lee both in his convictions and his leadership.

Our country could certainly benefit from a leader like him today.


heath lloyd said...

Brother Eric:
The literature on General Lee is vast, as vast as the subject one might say. I love to read about General Lee - what a man of integrity and Christian virtue. If you feel really in a rut - check out Douglass Southall Freeman's epic biography of the man. Thanks for sharing your interest and may the Lord bless your work in Georgia.
As side note - pick up a good biography of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson for a picture of a devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eric said...


Thank you for the recommendations. Both Lee and Jackson are heroes of mine. I'll have to do more reading on both of them.

Les Puryear said...


I think it's good to diversify your reading. I do plenty of reading on theology and church history but I also read biographies as well. Just finished biographies on Jimmy Stewart, gene Autry, and Walt Disney.


Eric said...


I enjoy biographies as well. There is something very enjoyable (and relatively easy) about reading about others' lives. I suppose it is the story.

emmalpass said...

It is a shame that anything that touches the Confederacy has been so demonize in today's American culture. The War, the nation, and it's leaders with their reasons for entering the War were far more complex and should not so easily be dismissed because of our shallow 21st century presuppositions. We have much to learn from these Americans even in their defeat. History is rarely black and white as we would like it to be.

Eric said...


It does seem that most folks view the Civil War as a simple, black-and-white issue. I agree that it was much more complex than that.

We can learn a lot from men like Lee and Jackson.