Bill Bonner – Bill Bonner’s Book Club (United States) –
As a boy, the War Between the States captured my romantic
attention. I read all I could get my hands on about Lee, Longstreet, Stuart, and Jackson… the great heroes. Their great battles, too – Bull Run, Manassas, Spotsylvania Court House, the Wilderness – were familiar to me before I was 10.
You will notice that my heroes were all confederates. Some of my ancestors fought in the war on the Confederate side.
Others fought for the Union. There was no particular reason
to favor the South in the war. Favoring the South was – and still is – more of an aesthetic preference than a political one. The graybacks were the underdogs… the lost cause… the diehards. Also, the Southern leaders were more dashing… more gentlemanly… and more sympathetic.
General Robert E. Lee was the greatest among them, beloved by both sides in the war. Noble in appearance and conduct, Lee was wise… gracious… mannerly… He was a man a boy could admire without apology. One of the curiosities of the war was that Lee had freed his slaves. U.S. Army Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant still owned them during the war years.
Boys need heroes. But grown men should avoid them. A grown man should keep his own counsel, be his own hero, and provide his own example. He knows that heroes are rarely better than the rest of the human lumber; flawed and ready to
crack at any time.