WARNING: If you are a fan of the north or Abraham Lincoln or William Tecumseh Sherman, you probably don’t want to read this.
On a blog called “The Art of Manliness”, there is an article entitled “43 Books About War Every Man Should Read” (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/12/02/books-about-war/). Based on the name of the blog and the name of the article, as well as the blog’s slogan, “Reviving the lost art of manliness”, one might expect to find books about manly men, people whom we can really look up to. Halfway down the page of the blogger’s list, the name of William Tecumseh Sherman appears. Sherman took up two books on the list, more than any other single person; however, it is questionable if Sherman should be on the list at all.
According to the person who put together the list of books, “it is in war that men — individual men — often show the very best of themselves.” Sherman was not a good man if he was showing the very best of himself during that war. He is not someone who should be put on a list of manly men because real men are always good men.
Sherman is not exactly a role model. He waged war on the innocent civilians of the South, stealing food from them and burning down their homes and churches. He ushered in the phenomenon of total war in America; war against the soldiers as well as the civilians of a nation. Sherman personally believed that the civilians of a battling nation should be made to feel the war as much as soldiers did. Not only did he oppress innocent civilians in the South during the War of Northern Aggression, he also apparently thought little of the lives of his own men. Take for example this quote from Sherman, “I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple of thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash – and it may be well that we become so hardened.” Obviously, that is not a quote from a good person.
Ryan Holiday, the man who compiled the list, calls Sherman “one of the greatest military strategists of all time”, a remark that many would disagree with. Sherman waged war on innocent civilians and burned down many of their buildings and took away their belongings. There is nothing genius about that. It is simply cruel. Also, out of all the books covering the Civil War period, there is no mention of Robert E. Lee, who was without a doubt one of the greatest generals of the war. He was almost always faced with a force superior to his own in numbers as well as in arms and munitions. Despite these odds against him, he was frequently able to do very well against the opposing army and obtain a victory or at least a draw. Also, when he took his army north towards Washington DC, the soldiers were told not to touch the land or the people, a stark contrast to Sherman’s method of total war. Nevertheless, Robert E. Lee is not mentioned but Sherman is given the honor of two books on the list that “every man should read” according to Ryan Holiday. This fact might make one wonder what Holiday considers a military genius. If he thinks hurting innocent people and getting your men killed without giving it a thought is great military strategy, then he should probably not become a military officer. In fact, Holiday stated that he has no intention of joining the military, which is a good thing.
Sherman should not have been placed on this list of books that every man should read. He is not a man to be admired. Perhaps Sherman could be put on a different list of books to read – a list of books explaining how Lincoln won his war against Americans on American soil. One might also wonder if he can trust the rest of the books that Holiday recommends.