Longstreet wrote well, but he really desperately needed an editor - memoirs

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I came to an interest in this topic because Grant's memoirs were recommended to me. Grant as a stylist and an author can't be compared to any of his contemporaries. He was streets, highways, interstates beyond any of them. Mark Twain should have worried about Grant as competition. I put Grant ahead of Mark as an author.

I have Longstreet's memoirs. He had a good style, but he had no sense of what was important to the reader, and he was no way near to Grant in terms of claritrty. The book is almost unreadable in spots. he also loved style which obscured but sounded well. His good spots read like oratory than tale telling.

I suspect Julia Grant got a huge dose of editing by academics when her memoirs were released. It shows a heathy reorganization that Julia herself lacked.

Sherman was his own editor, and he edited his book shamelessly.

Sheridan was a good writer in the sense that he organized his story to make salient points he wanted to make that were more important than what actually happened.

What do you think are the best /worst memoirs? I think Grant's memoirs will be in print for as long as people speak english. Most memoirs are an embarrassment.
 

jackt62

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I found Grant's memoirs to be highly readable. He was known to have a very concise and practical writing style during the war as shown in the writing of his orders. In contrast, I found Longstreet's memoirs to be difficult to plod through, whether it was due to his style or manner of narrative.
 

dlofting

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Grant was a good writer and his memoirs reflect that. Unfortunately Longstreet spent a lot of time defending his actions in the war and his memoirs reflect that. Some memoirs are well written and easy to read and others aren't.

The following come to mind as enjoyable to read...not necessarily historically accurate, but may be that as well.

I Rode with Stonewall by Henry Kydd Douglas
The War Years with Jeb Stuart by W W Blackford
At the Right Hand of Longstreet by Moxley Sorrell
The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J Goree
Four Years with General Lee by Walter Taylor
Memoirs of a Volunteer by John Beatty
The Civil War Diary of Rice C Bull
The Freemantle Diary
Four Years with the Iron Brigade by William Ray
With Grant and Meade from the Wilderness to Appomattox by Theodore Lyman

... and there are more but this is a good start.
 
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jackt62

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I found "Destruction and Reconstruction" by General Richard Taylor to be a very literate memoir.
 

Ole Miss

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"Co. Aytch", or, A Side Show of the Big Show is one of my all time favorites about the little man the so called "high private" of the War. If you have not read this book do yourself a favor and do so soon.
Regards
David
 
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Drew

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Grant was a good writer and his memoirs reflect that. Unfortunately Longstreet spent a lot of time defending his actions in the war and his memoirs reflect that. Some memoirs are well written and easy to read and others aren't.

The following come to mind as enjoyable to read...not necessarily historically accurate, but may be that as well.

I Rode with Stonewall by Henry Kydd Douglas
The War Years with Jeb Stuart by W W Blackford
At the Right Hand of Longstreet by Moxley Sorrell
The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J Goree
Four Years with General Lee by Walter Taylor
Memoirs of a Volunteer by John Beatty
The Civil War Diary of Rice C Bull
The Freemantle Diary
Four Years with the Iron Brigade by William Ray
With Grant and Meade from the Wilderness to Appomattox by Theodore Lyman

... and there are more but this is a good start.
Did you notice most of these are Confederate memoirs? They were far more good natured about the whole thing than most of their dour, depressing Union counterparts.

BTW, you forgot Berry Benson's Confederate Scout-Sniper and of course Sam Watkins' classic, Company Aytch!

Those two guys were funny as all get up and if there's a Union memoir that can match either, I'd like to read it.
 

Burning Billy

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I haven't read Winfield Scott's memoir yet but apparently he wrote about himself in the third person. That must make for a somewhat amusing read.

I hope when speaking he didn't refer to himself in the third person!
 
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