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JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN

A HERO'S LIFE & LEGACY

by John J. Pullen

I'll start this review off by saying that if you are primarily interested in Chamberlain's military career then this is not the book for you.  But if you want to know more about this amazing man and what happened to him after the war's end I would highly recommend giving this a read.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain - A Hero's Life & Legacy focuses on Chamberlain's life and career after the war.  It is a well organized book, divided into chapters that each focus on a different aspect of Chamberlain's post Civil War world.

Many of you, I'm sure, know that immediately after the war Chamberlain served four terms as governor of Maine.  What you may not know, however, is much of the political machinations that raised him to that point, as well as the pitfalls of his political career.  Pullen goes to some pains to discuss how Chamberlain's sense of honour effected his relationship with the Republican Party, and eventually brought him into conflict with James G. Blaine, Maine's most powerful political machinist.

But what I found most fascinating in this book was the way Pullen used specific examples to discuss the larger themes of Chamberlains life.  In his discussion of the election crisis of 1879 he focuses on very small, seemingly insignificant events within the larger picture to showcase Chamberlain's stubbornness and his unwillingness to play the political games that could have placed him back in favor.

One additional piece of interest in this book is that it contains perhaps the best and most comprehensive medical analysis of Chamberlain's injuries at Petersburg and how they affected the rest of his life.  Whereas many other authors have skirted the subject Pullen makes the point that a measure of Chamberlain's & Fannie's marital problems after the war could be traced to sexual difficulties caused by his wounds.

I do recommend this book heartily, if only for the insights to be gained into the overall character and mindset of the man discussed.  It becomes marvelously clear through Pullen's words that Chamberlain was more than just a citizen soldier.

 

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