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Robert E. Lee and Me

A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause

Ty Seidule

St. Martin's Press

Robert E. Lee and Me Download image

ISBN10: 1250239265
ISBN13: 9781250239266


304 Pages



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Ty Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life reinforced the Lost Cause myth: that Lee was the greatest man who ever lived, and that the Confederates were underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Now, as a retired brigadier general and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, his view has radically changed. From a soldier, a scholar, and a southerner, Ty Seidule believes that American history demands a reckoning.

In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy—that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans—and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies—and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day.

Part history lecture, part meditation on the Civil War and its fallout, and part memoir, Robert E. Lee and Me challenges the deeply-held legends and myths of the Confederacy—and provides a surprising interpretation of essential truths that our country still has a difficult time articulating and accepting.


Praise for Robert E. Lee and Me

“Ty Seidule brilliantly and brutally deconstructs [the Lost Cause myth] . . . an extraordinary book that, by chronicling our darkest American moments, offers hope that we might one day see greater light.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

Robert E. Lee and Me is a cri de coeur, one man’s journey to humanity and his salvation from the pernicious lies of white supremacy. Few others could write this book with such sterling credibility. Only a man of the South, a Virginian, and a soldier with a Ph.D. in history could so persuasively mount the case against a national hero, and label him a traitor.”—Washington Independent Review of Books

“A beautiful, often searing meditation on race, history, and the American narrative. Evocative and provocative, Robert E. Lee and Me is honest, wry, and utterly engaging.”—Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The British are Coming

“This book is a must read. With courage, grace, and humility, Seidule invites us to reexamine our past and challenges us by asking: ‘as a nation, how can we know where are going if we don’t know where we have been?’ This book speaks truth to power and truth in love. Written by a true patriot who clearly loves his country and wants the best for her, Robert E. Lee and Me leads us to a better place as a nation and reminds us all of our founding motto E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one.”—Mitch Landrieu, bestselling author of In The Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History

“In this profoundly moving memoir distinguished by moral courage and intellectual integrity, Ty Seidule chronicles his agonizing journey of discovery . . . Everyone interested in the Civil War and its continuing importance in American culture should read this unflinchingly honest book.”—Professor James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“General Ty Seidule has written a book for our times, one every American should read. By seamlessly weaving his impressive, and fascinating, autobiographical story into a superb rendering of the pernicious myths surrounding Robert E. Lee and the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, he has opened a window into one of the darker elements of our present-day culture, and one that helps explain what has happened in our recent political life as well . . . a tour de force.”—Charles B. Dew, Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College

“Searingly passionate, mercilessly honest, Robert E. Lee and Me is one of the most deeply felt books you are likely to encounter. Not only is it a soldier’s assessment of a military legend, it is an American’s report on the state of the Union . . . a must read for anyone who has ever thought about the meaning of duty, honor, country.”—Randy Roberts, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Blood Brothers

“A timely, powerful, compelling—and courageous—book. In Robert E. Lee and Me, Brigadier General Ty Seidule takes readers on a fascinating intellectual journey . . . This is a book of enormous importance and tremendous insight, a book that only a true southerner—and a true historian—could have written.”—General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan and former Director of the CIA

"A son of the South, a professional soldier, and an accomplished historian, Ty Seidule has written a book that is as timely as it is profound. Nominally centered on dismantling the myths surrounding the Confederacy's most famous field commander, Robert E. Lee and Me does much more, offering a searingly honest reflection on slavery, race, and the imperative of honesty in addressing America's past.”—Professor Andrew Bacevich, bestselling author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism

"Soldier and historian Ty Seidule's memoir courageously counters the myths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods about the Confederacy that our institutions perpetuate to this day. It proves both essential and riveting reading."—John H. Morrow, Jr., Pritzker Prize-winning author and Franklin Professor of History, University of Georgia

“Ty Seidule has written an extraordinary tale of a great change, but unlike most, his is one of intellectual, cultural, and moral transformation . . . a powerful story of a southern man who confronted the myths of his youth and concluded that there is no room in the United States Army or American society for Lost Cause mythology.”—Joseph Glatthaar, author of General Lee’s Army and Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“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.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Ruminative and carefully researched . . . a valiant and well supported effort to bring essential facts to light. This heartfelt history has a worthy message.”—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Ty Seidule

Brigadier General TY SEIDULE, U.S. Army (Retired), is the Chamberlain Fellow at Hamilton College and Professor Emeritus of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 35 years, including two decades in the Department of History at West Point. He serves as Vice Chair for the Naming Commission to rename Department of Defense assets that honor Confederates.

National WWII Museum

Ty Seidule

Official Links

Author Profile at New America