Thursday, June 5, 2014

Double Review - Scalia & General Sherman Biographies

On this blog I mainly review fiction books, but I do love history, particularly about American political figures. So today I'm reviewing two biographies, one about General Sherman and the other about Justice Scalia. 

Summary from Goodreads: Warrior, family man, American icon, William Tecumseh Sherman has finally found a biographer worthy of his protean gifts. A masterful character study whose myriad insights are leavened with its author’s trademark wit, Fierce Patriot will stand as the essential book on Sherman for decades to come.

Review after the jump! 

Review: You have to understand that I am from the south, and a dislike of Sherman is more or less taught from the cradle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I believe in slavery or anything like that. I just dislike the idea that the south was the 'big bad' in the Civil War, considering that most northerners may have wanted to free the slaves, but didn't exactly see fit to provide any other civil rights to the former slaves that flocked north after the war. Anyway, I'm off of my southern soapbox. Sherman is most famous for razing Atlanta on his march to the sea, which set a terrible precedent for future wars. This is also why I don't particularly care for Sherman. However, that being said Robert O'Connell's Fierce Patriot is immensely entertaining and informative. I learned a great deal and while I may not have agreed with all of Sherman's actions, I came to view him in a much more favorable light. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history or the Civil War. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars 

Summary from Goodreads: An authoritative, deeply researched biography of the most controversial and outspoken Supreme Court justice of our time and how he chose to be right rather than influential.

Antonin Scalia knew only success in the first fifty years of his life. His sterling academic and legal credentials led to his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in 1982. In four short years there, he successfully outmaneuvered the more senior Robert Bork to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986.

Review: Like the previous review, I began this book with a general disdain for the subject. I skew moderate to liberal in my politics, so this accounts for most of my annoyance with Scalia. However, I did try to read this with an open mind. I enjoyed learning about the justice's upbringing and history pre-SCOTUS, but I did get a little bored during the last part that discussed Scalia's term on the court. Aside from being a bit slow paced, this was a pretty good book, but probably only for those interested in Supreme Court history or Scalia specifically. 

Rating: 3/5 Stars 

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