Synopses & Reviews
Whether opposing Nathaniel Bacon and his Rebels in 1676, or condemning English colonial policy in 1776, or turning back the Union Army at the Seven Days' battles of 1862, the descendants of Richard and Anne Lee have occupied a preeminent place in American history. They were among the first families of Virginia. Two were signers of the Declaration of Independence and several others distinguished themselves during the Revolutionary War. And one, Robert E. Lee, remains widely admired for his lofty character and military success.
In The Lees of Virginia, Paul Nagel chronicles seven generations of Lees, from the family founder Richard to General Robert E. Lee, covering over two hundred years of American history. We meet Thomas Lee, who dreamed of America as a continental empire. His daughter was Hannah Lee Corbin, a non-conformist in lifestyle and religion, while his son, Richard Henry Lee, was a tempestuous figure who wore black silk over a disfigured hand when he made the motion in Congress for Independence. Another of Thomas' sons, Arthur Lee, created a political storm by his accusations against Benjamin Franklin. Arthur's cousin was Light-Horse Harry Lee, a controversial cavalry officer in the Revolutionary War, whose wild real estate speculation led to imprisonment for debt and finally self-exile in the Caribbean. One of Harry's sons, Henry Lee, further disgraced the family by seducing his sister-in-law and frittering away Stratford, the Lees' ancestral home. Another son, however, became the family's redeeming figure--Robert E. Lee, a brilliant tactician whose ruling motto was self-denial and who saw God's hand in all things. In these and numerous other portraits, Nagel discloses how, from 1640 to 1870, a family spirit united the Lees, making them a force in Virginian and American affairs.
Paul Nagel is a leading chronicler of families prominent in our history. His Descent from Glory, a masterful narrative account of four generations of Adamses, was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and a brilliant critical and popular success. The New Yorker hailed it as "intelligent, tactful, and spiritually generous," and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian W.A. Swanberg, in the Chicago Sun-Times, called it "a magnificent embarrassment of biographical riches." Now, in The Lees of Virginia, Nagel brings his skills to bear on another major American family, taking readers inside the great estates of the Old Dominion and the turbulent lives of the Lee men and women.
"A well-researched, readable treatise.... Recommended for history buffs and anyone interested in methods of genealogical research."--Booklist
"Nagel examines this powerful, often troubled clan with the same searching, generous spirit he brought to the Adams family...A multigenenerational saga as ambitious, (and) accomplished...as the American dynasty it chronicles."--Kirkus Reviews
"Contains a wealth of information....Tells us much about the education of Robert E. Lee."--Wilson Library Bulletin
"[A] splendidly written, poignant, well-researched portrait of a notable clan through approximately 230 years."--Publishers Weekly
Includes bibliographical references (p. 307-317) and index.
About the Author
About the Author
Paul C. Nagel was Director of the Virginia Historical Society until 1985, when he turned entirely to writing biography. His most recent books include Descent From Glory and The Adams Women. He is a contributing editor of American Heritage, a trustee of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a fellow of the Society of American Historians, and past president of the Southern Historical essociation.