After his surrender at Appomattox in 1865, Robert E. Lee, commanding general for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, lived only five more years. It was the great forgotten chapter of his remarkable life, during which Lee did more to bridge the divide between the North and the South than any other American. The South may have lost, but Lee taught them how to triumph in peace, and showed the entire country how to heal the wounds of war.
Based on previously unseen documents, letters, family papers and exhaustive research into Lee’s complex private life and public crusades, this is a portrait of a true icon of Reconstruction and quiet rebellion. From Lee’s urging of Rebel soldiers to restore their citizenship, to his taking communion with a freedman, to his bold dance with a Yankee belle at a Southern ball, to his outspoken regret of his soldierly past, to withstanding charges of treason, Lee embodied his adage: “True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another.”
Lee: The Last Years sheds a vital new light on war, politics, hero-worship, human rights, and Robert E. Lee’s “desire to do right.”