Edward Bonekemper’s latest book on George McClellan would make the perfect gift for fellow blogger Dimitri Rotov. In all seriousness this study looks like a complete disaster which would at least be consistent with his earlier books on Lee and Grant. I probably sound overly harsh, but I absolutely cringed when I tried to get through his earlier book on Lee, which was nothing more than a poor rehashing of Alan Nolan’s argument. While I disagreed with Nolan’s evaluation of Lee’s generalship at least he was able to put forward an argument in a clearly articulated manner. Bonekemper’s latest book is titled, McClellan and Failure: A Study of Civil War Fear, Incompetence and Worse. Here is a description:
Promoting his own ideas and career regardless of the consequences, McClellan spent his Civil War command defying his superiors and attempting to avoid battle, eventually becoming a thorn in the side of President Lincoln and the Union cause. Removed from command on November 5, 1862, McClellan’s overly cautious attitude nevertheless permeated the Army of the Potomac for years. From West Point to Antietam, this volume examines his Army career. The main focus of the work is McClellan’s Civil War service and the ways in which the man and his decisions affected the course of the war. The Union Army’s invasion of northern Virginia, the Peninsula Campaign and the Second Battle of Bull Run are examined in detail with special emphasis on the roles which McClellan played–or did not play. Through a combination of incompetence and paranoia, McClellan managed to throw away numerous chances at a Union victory and, consequently, a quicker end to the war.
Going back to the title of the book one has to wonder what Bonekemper means by “and worse.” Maybe we will learn that McClellan beat his wife. It is hard to imagine any study by Bonekemper being worth a purchase price of $45. Do yourself a favor and spend the money on Ethan Rafuse’s new book, McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union.