First edition of A Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee by John Esten Cooke.
Octavo, vi, 577pp. Publisher’s three quarter brown morocco, marbled boards, title in gilt with decorative raised bands on spine. Frontispiece portrait, light foxing to illustration. Previous ownership bookplate on front pastedown endpaper, ownership notations on front flyleaf. Fully illustrated with engraved plates, maps and portraits of Lee throughout his life. Illustrations include the surrender at Appomattox, Confederate War Councils, Siege of Fredericksburg and others. (Eicher 260)
An “early classic” on the hero of Southern independence, this work by Cooke was written shortly after the death of General Robert E. Lee in 1870. According to Eicher, the work is eulogistic and supportive of the Lee myths. From a literary standpoint, this work stands up very well. The work focuses on Lee’s early life, then jumps into the Civil War campaigns. A critique is that the author exaggerates Lee’s battlefield effectiveness and believes that “he can do no wrong.”