They met in person only four times, yet these two men-Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee-determined the outcome of America's most divisive war and cast larger-than-life shadows over their reunited nation. They came from vastly different backgrounds: Lee from a distinguished family of waning fortunes; Grant, a young man on the make in a new America. Differing circumstances colored their outlooks on life: Lee, the melancholy realist; Grant, the incurable optimist.Then came the Civil War that made them both commanders of armies, leaders of men, and heroes to the multitudes of Americans then and since who rightfully place them in the pantheon of our greatest soldiers. Forged in battle as generals, these two otherwise very different men became almost indistinguishable in their instincts, attributes, attitudes, and skills in command.Each the subject of innumerable biographies, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee have never before been paired as they are here. Exploring their personalities, their characters, their ethical and moral compasses, and their political and military worlds, William C. Davis, one of America's preeminent historians, uses substantial, newly discovered evidence on both men to find surprising similarities between them, as well as new insights and unique interpretations on how their lives prepared them for the war they fought and influenced how they fought it.Crucible of Command is both a gripping narrative of the final year of the war and a fresh, revealing portrait of these two great commanders as they took each other's measure across the battlefield with the aid of millions of men.
William C. Davis retired in 2013 as Professor of History and Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. He has authored or edited more than 50 books and is a frequent historical consultant for television and film. He served as the principal historical consultant to the A. & E. television series, Civil War Journal and has authored or edited many books including ‘A Government of Our Own’: The Making of the Confederacy; An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government and Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America.