Book Review Shrouds of Glory by Winston Groom

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Harms88

Corporal
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
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Shrouds of Glory is the story of Hood's command of the Army of Tennessee. Starting with the storm of battles that raged around Atlanta, it ends at Nashville, where his army is irrevocably broken, shattering the last slim hope of the Confederacy.

This book is not out to paint Hood as a megalomaniac. It does not go out of its way to describe him as a drunkard and a druggie. Instead, it shows him as a man who was perhaps above his talents, out of his element, and trying to be a Lee or Jackson in the West. Trying to be a Lee or Jackson with an army that was by no means the Army of Northern Virginia, one accustomed to defeat, not victory.

If anything, this book shows him, and even Thomas, as victims of politicians who wanted the war done decisively and quickly. Hood originally only wanted to raid into Tennessee, only to have Davis show up and declare wildly that he expected Hood to take his small army, reconquer Tennessee, take Kentucky and get clear into Ohio. He was being backed into a corner by an administration who not only publicly declared that he was going to do this, but also making promises that he would get 20,000+ reinforcements from the Trans-Mississippi Theater from Kirby Smith; never informing him that Smith was notorious for hording his resources and was unwilling to share.

It also takes on the controversies of the campaign in a balanced way, take Spring Hill. Never assigning sole blame for the debacle, it shines light on many baffling aspects. Such as Cheatham being ordered to block the turnpike, only not to. A member of Hood's staff would admit he fell asleep without finishing the order to send it. Yet Cheatham claims he did receive the orders but that it wasn't that clear. So....how did he get a letter that was never finished nor sent? And how did this member of the staff not finish an order that was received?

The book is written like a novel, with Hood and the Army having their own character arcs. It's well-written, easy to follow. Some of the more interesting tidbits, such as Forrest threatening to whip Hood during the campaign, is missing, which is unfortunate. There is some weird formatting here and there, usually involving when age is given for a character. Sometimes it's written like, "Thirtysix years old" "Thirty-six yearsold" Or "Thirty-sixyears old". But that doesn't break up the flow of reading.

I'd give it a 8/10. It's pretty-well done, missing a few of the most well-known and interesting tidbits of the campaign, but written in such a way that you easily follow it.
 
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Harms88

Corporal
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
Forrest Gump (by the same author) it's not, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read.
I heard that he wrote the book (I didn't know the movie was based off a book) but it wasn't a factor for me. I've never been particularly interested in Forrest Gump and haven't even watched the movie before.

What drew me to it was the price and the length of the book. Just a little north of 300 pages.

Great review, I didn't know of this book now I want a copy. Winston Groom is a great author, novel or serious history.
The only reason I came across it is I plan on visiting Franklin, Spring Hill and the Nashville battlefields same week as Shiloh Muster. But having read it, I'd like to read his Shiloh and Vicksburg books.
 

bdtex

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Shrouds of Glory is the story of Hood's command of the Army of Tennessee. Starting with the storm of battles that raged around Atlanta, it ends at Nashville, where his army is irrevocably broken, shattering the last slim hope of the Confederacy.

This book is not out to paint Hood as a megalomaniac. It does not go out of its way to describe him as a drunkard and a druggie. Instead, it shows him as a man who was perhaps above his talents, out of his element, and trying to be a Lee or Jackson in the West. Trying to be a Lee or Jackson with an army that was by no means the Army of Northern Virginia, one accustomed to defeat, not victory.

If anything, this book shows him, and even Thomas, as victims of politicians who wanted the war done decisively and quickly. Hood originally only wanted to raid into Tennessee, only to have Davis show up and declare wildly that he expected Hood to take his small army, reconquer Tennessee, take Kentucky and get clear into Ohio. He was being backed into a corner by an administration who not only publicly declared that he was going to do this, but also making promises that he would get 20,000+ reinforcements from the Trans-Mississippi Theater from Kirby Smith; never informing him that Smith was notorious for hording his resources and was unwilling to share.

It also takes on the controversies of the campaign in a balanced way, take Spring Hill. Never assigning sole blame for the debacle, it shines light on many baffling aspects. Such as Cheatham being ordered to block the turnpike, only not to. A member of Hood's staff would admit he fell asleep without finishing the order to send it. Yet Cheatham claims he did receive the orders but that it wasn't that clear. So....how did he get a letter that was never finished nor sent? And how did this member of the staff not finish an order that was received?

The book is written like a novel, with Hood and the Army having their own character arcs. It's well-written, easy to follow. Some of the more interesting tidbits, such as Forrest threatening to whip Hood during the campaign, is missing, which is unfortunate. There is some weird formatting here and there, usually involving when age is given for a character. Sometimes it's written like, "Thirtysix years old" "Thirty-six yearsold" Or "Thirty-sixyears old". But that doesn't break up the flow of reading.

I'd give it a 8/10. It's pretty-well done, missing a few of the most well-known and interesting tidbits of the campaign, but written in such a way that you easily follow it.
Good review. That is the only Civil War book that I have read twice. My pastor's wife's family is from Franklin and my pastor is a history buff. I bought him that book for Christmas last year.
 
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anyexcuse

Private
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
Location
Minnesota
I just finished reading Groom's "Vicksburg 1863" book. An easy, enjoyable read. To me he seems to have a slightly southern bias, but that's fine with me. I'll have to scare up this book!
 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I have shamelessly plagiarized phrases from that book because they make it easy to explain what happened to visitors to the battlefield. As a storyteller, I admire the way he makes the narrative flow. He does not pretend to write a history book. It helped me do a better job of planning my own presentations.
 

jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
I am reading the book now. It is well written and provides a good account of the lesser known period between the fall of Atlanta and Hood's march till reaching Tennessee. My only criticism is that I would have liked to see citations to substantiate some of the statements made.
 
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Irishtom29

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Comancheria
That book isn't to be trusted. I bought it upon first publication and found it so full of errors that I returned it to the book store as defective. Errors of fact, not interpretation, and some so basic that I would've caught them when I was 12 years old from reading Bruce Catton, Fletcher Pratt and the Golden Book of the Civil War.
 
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Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
This was one of the earliest Civil War books I've read and I really enjoyed it. I haven't read any other books about this campaign (I tried Wiley Sword once and didn't care for his writing, and his hate for Hood hasn't aged gracefully).

Groom is definitely a very good writer. However, I have serious doubts about him as a historian. I've read some of his more recent works and, while great reads, they contain factual errors and present controversial claims without any hint they're controversial (ex: Grant's Yazoo bender). It's really soured me to his books.

I would really like someone more familiar with the Franklin-Nashville campaign to review the book's accuracy. I don't think I want to read it a third time nor do I know enough about this part of the war to be a very effective fact checker.
 
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