Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule

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Soldier and head of the West Point history department Ty Seidule challenges the myths and lies of the Confederate legacy—and explores why some of this country’s oldest wounds have never healed.

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Our Bookseller says:

“This book should be required reading for every white Southerner. Seidule makes it clear that while he was raised to believe in the myth of the Lost Cause (the misinformation which argued that the South was righteous and heroic during the Civil War and that the war wasn’t actually about slavery), that’s no excuse to continue to believe and spread that myth today. Not only is this book timely (it discusses goings on as recent as 2020 with George Floyd’s death), but it is also timeless so long as people who believe in the Lost Cause still exist. Seidule breaks down insidious aspects from the language we use (like “plantations” rather than the term he suggests – “enslaved labor farms”) to pop culture (“Gone with the Wind,” anyone?) to federal and academic influences/memorials. Rather than just explain why it’s wrong, Seidule also goes into the history to show why some of these things are the way they are – further amplifying the fact that these were ill-intentioned to start and didn’t just *become* bad with “woke culture.” This is the kind of book that could bridge gaps between generations and help change the minds of folks who have been steeped in lies for their entire lives. He writes as a Southerner, a scholar, and a soldier – a potent combination of identities which anyone buying into the Lost Cause myth would likely respect.”

~Christine

Ty Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life reinforced the Lost Cause myth: that Lee was the greatest man who ever lived, and that the Confederates were underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Now, as a retired brigadier general and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, his view has radically changed. From a soldier, a scholar, and a southerner, American history demands a reckoning.

In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy—that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans—and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies—and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day.

Part history lecture, part meditation on the Civil War and its fallout, and part memoir, Robert E. Lee and Me challenges the deeply-held legends and myths of the Confederacy—and provides a surprising interpretation of essential truths that our country still has a difficult time articulating and accepting.

Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule
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