A Review of The Maxims of Robert E. Lee For Young Gentlemen
“I know of nothing good I could tell you about myself,” Lee once responded in an interview for a biography (p. 27). These words reveal much about Lee’s humility. They should spur us on to learn more about this man, his wisdom, and his desire for good. Readers are in deep debt to the editor of this volume for his meticulous research and arrangement of these quotations.
Under topical headings the author has collected a wide variety of advice, admonitions, and anecdotes from and about General Lee. Topical headings include “Humility,” “Christian Faith,” and “Duty.” Very often the occasion of the quote is included with the statement.
Several closing chapters add valuable insights to this book. These chapters include “What Others Said of Lee’s Character” and “General Lee’s Reading Habits.” Statements regarding Lee’s character are included from people in the North as well as the South. They exemplify the appreciation and admiration that people had for the General on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. An epilogue is followed by a bibliography.
Lee’s words quoted at the beginning of this review provide motivation to read this compilation. They exemplify a man who was not caught up in himself. Frequently his quotations pointed hearers to God and the Bible and to the importance of fathers, families, and faithfulness to duty.
The selected quotations are relevant for reflection and response in our own generation. Lee’s life reminds us that we are to do our duty, not looking for praise for ourselves. Others saw this aspect of his rich character and gave him praise that he refused to give himself.
These maxims not only reveal to us Lee’s character, they also teach us much about what one should look for in a true hero. We can be thankful that the editor has given us a volume that is a joy to read, to discuss with our family and friends, and to keep at hand for reference and reflection.
Topics: American History, Biography, Culture