Cover image for Sherman : a soldier's passion for order
Sherman : a soldier's passion for order
Marszalek, John F., 1939-
Personal Author:
First Vintage Civil War library edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Vintage Civil War library, 1994.

Physical Description:
xviii, 635 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Free Press, c1993.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E467.1.S55 M34 1993C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



General William Tecumseh Sherman has come down to us as the implacable destroyer of the Civil War, notorious for his burning of Atlanta and his brutal march to the sea. A probing biography that explains Sherman's style of warfare and the threads of self-possession and insecurity that made up his character. Photos.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Marszalek adds psychobiographical gloss to a basic narrative of the second-best-known Civil War Union general's life. This gloss argues that Sherman's passion for order (with which he identified the Union cause) arose from a troubled childhood (his bankrupt father died young, and he was raised by a foster father, one of whose daughters he married) and some failures in his civilian career. Otherwise Marszalek does not tell a new tale, although what he does tell he tells extremely well, thanks to thorough research and clear writing that make the book more accessible than usual to the nonspecialist Civil War student. Recommended to begin small Civil War collections or augment larger ones. ~--Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

This provocative and ably written biography views Sherman's military career in light of his passion for social order and intellectual certainty. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sherman taught America that ``War is hell'' as he swept through Georgia and the Carolinas to destroy the Confederates' will to resist. The roots of Sherman's philosophy of total war and of his enigmatic personality have fascinated historians since the Civil War, when Sherman was thought both insane and brilliant. Now, in Marszalek's ( Grover Cleveland, Greenwood Pr., 1988) full and fascinating biography, we get the whole man--a warrior who hated killing but carried war to civilians; a foster son craving paternal approval who led hardened men; a writer and talker who preferred action to words. Marszalek finds the key to Sherman in his search for order, both in a private life troubled by uncertain financial prospects and relations and in a civil war, and later Indian wars, where old West Point verities did not apply. That Sherman was a troubled soul who sought to make his family appreciate his trials and triumphs is evident in the small cache of Sherman letters published for the first time in Joseph Ewing's Sherman at War (Morningside, 1992). The new letters notwithstanding, Marszalek's psychobiographical musings about Sherman's inner self doubtless will cause some historians to blush. But the rich historical contextual material on everything from Western finances, Indian wars in Florida and the West, and Civil War military policy make Marszalek's Sherman real and powerful. Highly recommended.-- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Marszalek (Mississippi State Univ.) has written what is likely to be the definitive biography of William T. Sherman. Prodigiously researched, this book tells the tale of perhaps the Civil War's most controversial military leader. One of 11 children, Sherman was raised, after his father's death, in the prominent Ewing family. The tension between Sherman and patriarch Thomas Ewing, as well as that between Sherman and his wife Ellen, who was also his foster sister, play an important role in the book. The author displays shrewd psychological insight, although this is by no means a psychobiography. A West Point graduate, Sherman was largely a failure in most endeavors before the war. He suffered with bouts of depression, though was hardly "insane," as critics charged. Throughout this well-written narrative, terms like "manifest destiny," or legislation like the Compromise of 1850 are briefly explained. Although his portrait of Sherman is generally favorable, Marszalek does show the subject's warts his racism, for example. A well-rounded study, the book nicely complements Charles Royster's The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and the Americans (CH, May'92). A must for libraries at all levels. S. G. Weisner; Springfield Technical Community College