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Soul of the Lion: A Biography of General Joshua L. Chamberlain

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Originally published: New York: T. Nelson, c1960.


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Originally published: New York: T. Nelson, c1960.

30 review for Soul of the Lion: A Biography of General Joshua L. Chamberlain

  1. 5 out of 5

    J

    Fourteen years ago today I bought this book. We were in Gettysburg. We saw the carnage from Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard, heard Lee say "I will strike him there", witnessed the glory of Pickett's Charge, then we had lunch. There was a beautiful, carefully not restored Civil War era house turned restaurant with bullet holes in the walls and nineteenth century fare. Revived by peanut soup, we walked to this little bookshop where I met the hero of Little Round Top. Wow. "The soul of a lion and Fourteen years ago today I bought this book. We were in Gettysburg. We saw the carnage from Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard, heard Lee say "I will strike him there", witnessed the glory of Pickett's Charge, then we had lunch. There was a beautiful, carefully not restored Civil War era house turned restaurant with bullet holes in the walls and nineteenth century fare. Revived by peanut soup, we walked to this little bookshop where I met the hero of Little Round Top. Wow. "The soul of a lion and the heart of a woman" according to General Sickel and I'd agree. The unassuming college professor had grit, I'll tell you that. Enlisted in the army behind people's backs (supposedly going off to Europe to study languages - as if he weren't already fluent in eight or ten!) then declined, yes declined, the position of colonel. Modest, well spoken (in many languages), and did I mention The Hero of Little Round Top? Yikes! Bayonets! Wounded six times yet kept ticking till the end where he finished the war in style by ordering the Federal troops to salute the surrendering Confederacy. He followed that performance up with four terms as Governor of Maine and at least a dozen as the rather forward thinking President of Bowdoin College. Who knows what else? Not me because, sadly, my dear husband loaned this book - MY book - to some loser in a cowboy hat who never gave it back. Probably didn't even read it. So if you happen to see a guy in a cowboy hat walking round with my book, please, FIX BAYONETS!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Okay, I admit it. Along with many fans of the movie Gettysburg, I drank the Chamberlain kool-aid. I drank a lot of it. I even got other people to drink. For a good year+ of my life I was convinced the entire Civil War was won by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gradually, as happened with Santa Claus, I came to consider simpler, more profound likelihoods. I listened to the words of real historians, not documentary guru Ken Burns, or Gettysburg dire Okay, I admit it. Along with many fans of the movie Gettysburg, I drank the Chamberlain kool-aid. I drank a lot of it. I even got other people to drink. For a good year+ of my life I was convinced the entire Civil War was won by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gradually, as happened with Santa Claus, I came to consider simpler, more profound likelihoods. I listened to the words of real historians, not documentary guru Ken Burns, or Gettysburg director Ron Maxwell. Guess what. The real Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is still a hero. He is worthy of attention and admiration. He never ordered that mythical "right wheel charge" on July 2nd, 1863. For the real story of Little Round Top, I recommend Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine . But I also recommend biographies like this one. Let carefully studied, Hollywood-free history in to your life. It's worth it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Ross

    Overall, I'd put this in the "good biography" category. I was attracted to it because of the subject matter -- a true, under-appreciated hero of the Civil War from the State of Maine -- and because there was a very positive review of it on Goodreads. Also, the book is out of print and difficult to find, which made is something of a challenge. In any event, I dove in with fairly high expectations. The author writes well enough, but struggled to paint a full picture of the man. (This is a chronic Overall, I'd put this in the "good biography" category. I was attracted to it because of the subject matter -- a true, under-appreciated hero of the Civil War from the State of Maine -- and because there was a very positive review of it on Goodreads. Also, the book is out of print and difficult to find, which made is something of a challenge. In any event, I dove in with fairly high expectations. The author writes well enough, but struggled to paint a full picture of the man. (This is a chronic problem for authors of biographies of people who have been deceased for 50 or so years and whose contemporaries are as well; these biographies often lack insightful, first-hand accounts.) Certainly, there are gaps in the book, such as how he interfaced with his children, wife and friends; a few anecdotes would have helped out nicely. The author's research was good enough, although it seemed to have come mostly from various archives and newspaper accounts, but not much from personal letters or other first-hand, personal material. Yet given those constraints, the author did a credible job. Fortunately -- and perhaps most importantly -- the book was buoyed by the subject himself, who was a true war hero as well as a very decent, talented and public-spirited individual. I would argue that this should be required reading for anyone who considers himself or herself a "Mainer" or who has a strong affinity for that unique State.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    As the title states, a biography of Josua L. Chamberlain. Chamberlain was a little known civil war character to most until the movie Gettysburg. As the commander of the 20th Maine, it was Chamberlain who "held the flank" on the first day of the Gettysburg battle ensuring the union line would not collapse. More incredible, virtually out of ammunition, confronted with five seperate charges on their position by the strong and disciplined Texans commanded by General Hood, Chamberlain ordered "Fix Ba As the title states, a biography of Josua L. Chamberlain. Chamberlain was a little known civil war character to most until the movie Gettysburg. As the commander of the 20th Maine, it was Chamberlain who "held the flank" on the first day of the Gettysburg battle ensuring the union line would not collapse. More incredible, virtually out of ammunition, confronted with five seperate charges on their position by the strong and disciplined Texans commanded by General Hood, Chamberlain ordered "Fix Bayonets" and charged on the Texans causing them to be so demoralized as to surrender in place. This action ultimately won him the admiration of the Union Army and the Congressional Medal of Honor. His final crowning achievement of the war was during the surrender. He supervised the "stacking of arms" and called the union to attention and "salute" as the rebels passed by. This was probably the first real gesture of healing. But that's one dimension of the man that includes a long tenure at Bowden College in Main (The "Harvard" Of Maine), and ultimately multiple terms as Govenor. A great story of a great man that many still do not know. It can be a bit slow in places but it's worth the read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    MaryAnn (EmilyD1037)

    I enjoyed this biography very much. The author kept my attention most of the time. It bogged down toward the end for me because there was a lot of political talk that I didn't care about. The battle descriptions were quite nice. I have at least one more Chamberlain bio to read, there is always a place for him in my reading life. I enjoyed this biography very much. The author kept my attention most of the time. It bogged down toward the end for me because there was a lot of political talk that I didn't care about. The battle descriptions were quite nice. I have at least one more Chamberlain bio to read, there is always a place for him in my reading life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chainsaw

    If you are looking for the biography of a man of great character and courage, look no further. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is best known for his historical (and potentially Union-saving) stand on Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg during the United States Civil War, but his exceptional service, leadership, and superior decision-making extended far beyond that single event. Whether as an academic, military leader, politician, or peace-keeper, his consistent dedication to a cause greater If you are looking for the biography of a man of great character and courage, look no further. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is best known for his historical (and potentially Union-saving) stand on Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg during the United States Civil War, but his exceptional service, leadership, and superior decision-making extended far beyond that single event. Whether as an academic, military leader, politician, or peace-keeper, his consistent dedication to a cause greater than himself, to the ideals upon which our Nation was founded, and his wisdom in action speak to the exceptional character of a man whom we should truly honor. A well-written "must read!"

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim Armstrong

    I enjoyed this quite a bit. I've always been intrigued by Chamberlain and wanted to learn more than just the Little Round Top story. This book helped me achieve that perfectly. What disappointed me about this book though, is that it felt very rushed. His life before the Civil War garners one chapter and even his time as a soldier (arguably the most interesting part of his life) felt rushed. But then we get extensive, often long and boring tales of his post wat activities. I was hoping for more of I enjoyed this quite a bit. I've always been intrigued by Chamberlain and wanted to learn more than just the Little Round Top story. This book helped me achieve that perfectly. What disappointed me about this book though, is that it felt very rushed. His life before the Civil War garners one chapter and even his time as a soldier (arguably the most interesting part of his life) felt rushed. But then we get extensive, often long and boring tales of his post wat activities. I was hoping for more of a focus on his Civil War activities.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Lake

    You can find my full review at Quieted Waters. This work chronicles the life of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain from childhood through death, including Chamberlain’s roles as teacher, general, college president, and governor. Wallace’s most fluid writing is found in his retelling of the Civil War, specifically his chapter on Chamberlain’s Gettysburg glory. The entire battle is brought to life with vivid realism, and I could almost feel the weight bearing upon Chamberlain’s shoulders as he agonized ov You can find my full review at Quieted Waters. This work chronicles the life of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain from childhood through death, including Chamberlain’s roles as teacher, general, college president, and governor. Wallace’s most fluid writing is found in his retelling of the Civil War, specifically his chapter on Chamberlain’s Gettysburg glory. The entire battle is brought to life with vivid realism, and I could almost feel the weight bearing upon Chamberlain’s shoulders as he agonized over how to hold Little Round Top “until the last.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nance

    This book, while perhaps not the most exciting I have ever read, told the story of an incredible General, Joshua Chamberlain, who fought in the Civil War including at Gettysburg. General Chamberlain was not just brave man (he was injured during battle several times but continued to fight), but he was a college professor, Governor of Maine, yet very humble and dedicated to public service and had an amazing inner strength. You cannot read this book and not be moved by what an incredible human bein This book, while perhaps not the most exciting I have ever read, told the story of an incredible General, Joshua Chamberlain, who fought in the Civil War including at Gettysburg. General Chamberlain was not just brave man (he was injured during battle several times but continued to fight), but he was a college professor, Governor of Maine, yet very humble and dedicated to public service and had an amazing inner strength. You cannot read this book and not be moved by what an incredible human being this man was.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline J

    Very good, easy to read biography of Joshua Chamberlain. I first became aware of him during Ken Burns documentary of the Civil War. So much more to the man than just the acts of heroism and grace displayed during the well known episodes of his campaigns during the war. Very well worth reading for anyone interested in the American Civil War and also for those who admire brilliant military minds and who wonder what it is that makes them so brilliant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    My word, how appropriately this book has been titled. Chamberlain didn't just have the soul of a lion but of the Lion. I appreciate that biographer Willard Wallace does not attempt to chalk up Chamberlain's demonstrations of nobility to mere human goodness or Victorian sentiment but that he connects the dots between Chamberlain's early theological studies and lifelong faith and his resultant courage, compassion, and adherence to an admirable moral code. My word, how appropriately this book has been titled. Chamberlain didn't just have the soul of a lion but of the Lion. I appreciate that biographer Willard Wallace does not attempt to chalk up Chamberlain's demonstrations of nobility to mere human goodness or Victorian sentiment but that he connects the dots between Chamberlain's early theological studies and lifelong faith and his resultant courage, compassion, and adherence to an admirable moral code.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Walker

    Maybe more scholarly than Trulock's In the Hands of Providence, Wallace's 1960 biography of Chamberlain (well before Chamberlain's star rose as a result of Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels) is for the most part factual, objective, and unadorned, though he may gloss over too discretely the unsteady relationship between Chamberlain and his mercurial wife, Fanny. Maybe more scholarly than Trulock's In the Hands of Providence, Wallace's 1960 biography of Chamberlain (well before Chamberlain's star rose as a result of Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels) is for the most part factual, objective, and unadorned, though he may gloss over too discretely the unsteady relationship between Chamberlain and his mercurial wife, Fanny.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Douthit

    Not very well written. Lots of interesting data about the man, who is a very interesting subject. The author assumes a certain knowledge of the Civil War and ability to visualize battlefields, which can be quite difficult. Overall, decent biography of a fascinating person.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    This one was recommended by a friend. The writing style, as I was warned, is not the most exciting or interesting. However, the subject is always worth reading about.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kartika

    Loved...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Wonderful biography and engaging story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dmack

    This is an excellent read of a great American; his passion for his state; country ; and duty are a great example for all Americans to adhere to; should be read by all high school students.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J

    Very interesting subject and personage, however the writers skills are just not up to the task....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    4.5 stars. Just when I thought I couldn't admire the man anymore this books comes along and proves me wrong. What an amazing life he had, a true American hero. 4.5 stars. Just when I thought I couldn't admire the man anymore this books comes along and proves me wrong. What an amazing life he had, a true American hero.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Franc Woods

    Good story, great historical character, so so writing style but it had some good moments.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thom Diggins

    Joshua Chamberlain was a college professor turned Union Army officer, Medal of Honor winner and the hero of Little Round Top.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Denise

  23. 5 out of 5

    J.A.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim D

  25. 5 out of 5

    MaryAnn

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Batalias

  27. 4 out of 5

    Curt

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larry Concio

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jen Goellnitz

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wes

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