Mr. Gwynne has provided us a new perspective of a legendary and very eccentric American General in a very readable and interesting format. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson aka Stonewall Jackson a West Point Grad, decorated leader of the Mexican War, instructor at VMI, deeply religious with health trouble, and finally a military genius who prolonged an un winnable war against the Union States has been a subject of many books dating back to John Esten Cooke's (a former CSA Veteran) book "The Life of Stonewall Jackson".
Thomas J. Jackson started from a very humble childhood as a son of a broken family. His big break in life came when a distant relative obtained an appointment to West Point for the young Jackson. This was the beginning of a legendary career that had its interruptions between the Mexican and Civil War's (it's interesting that Jackson like US Grant departed the Army between war's due to disappointment). I feel Gwynne has defined this very complicated historical figure very accurately. Jackson being a deeply religious and modest man would transform into a Devil of a Warrior on the Battlefield by arresting his officers for petty reasons, marching his men till they dropped, and relentlessly attacking day and night. He was a bull dog and shocked the leading Northern Generals at the time.
The low key Jackson a military school teacher started with less than 20,000 rebel recruits and ending up a leading General by consistently defeating Northern Forces in the Shenandoah Valley ( Bull Run, Antietam, & Harper's Ferry to name a few). His short time of approximately two years in service stopped Union forces adding years to the War between the States. His battle wounds and ultimate demise was a result of his aggressive nature of consent attack on the enemy. He fell from guns shot from his own side (due to night fighting) when he was mistakenly fired upon by the 16th North Carolina (there is a stone placed by actual CS veterans placed near the spot he fell at the Chancellorsville, VA Battlefield Park). I would propose that his demise was the turning point in the war.
Mr. Gwynne wrapped this complicated figure together by defining his military prowess and drive to attack relentlessly by killing the enemy and the ambiguity of his strong religious beliefs. Reading Gwynne's book has given me the impression that General Jackson believed the war needed to be taken to the enemy - in the Northern territory so that a victory for the Confederacy would be possible leading to an explicit Christian Nation. The establishment of a pious religious nation was not the intentions of the Confederacy leadership of course. I call this one of the more interesting Civil War books written recently.
* If download links doesn't work. Please write a comment.Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Download via usenet