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Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott Paperback – Mar 15 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (March 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806131284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806131283
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,643,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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First Sentence
LIEUTENANT GENERAL Winfield Scott, hero of the War of 1812, conqueror of Mexico City, and Abraham Lincoln's top soldier in the early months of the Civil War, was born at the family farm, Laurel Hill, near Dinwiddie Courthouse, Virginia, on June 13, 1786. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
"Old Fuss and Feathers", Winfield Scott, is one of the most important soldiers in American history. He was breveted a Brigadier General during the War of 1812, his shadow passes across all of the American Army's actions during the first half of the 19th Century, and before retiring he came up with "The Anaconda Plan" as a strategy to win the Civil War.
But there is no decent biography of this great historic figure. And AGENT OF DESTINY falls far short of the mark.
Sure, it is meticulously researched. In fact, it is more researched than written. Eisenhower wrote SO FAR FROM GOD about the Mexican War; AGENT OF DESTINY seems to be an expansion of that research project.
The presentation is very episodic. They read like they were all written separately, and no real cohesive thread runs through the book.
There is just no real sense of proportion. A Scott court martial is covered in little more than a page, with the juicy details buried in footnotes, and then it goes on forever with the intriguing and fueding for positions.
And a critism that applies to much modern military history -- there are way too few maps.
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Format: Paperback
This man's life is very much worth knowing about. Serving 14 Presidents, 13 as a general officer, he is the person who executed the military policies and directions of his civilian superiors.
He became a military officer almost by accident. He did this at a time when the United States was a mere concept, a thought process whose liberties and freedoms were undeveloped, untested and subject to interpretation by men who were not completely sold on the United States as a unified country.
His time coincided with the concept more popularly known as Manifest Destiny and he lived to see the United States evolve from an aggregation of discordant, fractious, sovereign States to a Nation that filled a continent. He was a man that avoided more wars than he fought and when he fought them you had best get out of the way.
The military was his life, the tool through which he made his contribution to America. Because he made his contributions in our country's formative stages, he has largely been forgotten. But he once strode across the evolution of the American stage with very big boots, a set of shoes which very few military men have since been able to fill.
John Eisenhower's book is a long overdue thank you.
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Format: Paperback
Eisenhower's attempt at a biography of General Winfield Scott misses its mark somewhat. He provides the reader with an excellent insight to the political manueverings and sentiments of the era, but we miss the details of Scott's personality that led him to the decisions he made.
I also agree with one of the previous reviewers that the lack of discussion of Scott's tactics and the mindset behind these tactics was a great disappointment. I picked up this book thinking it would delve into Scott's masterful use of tactics and was left disappointed.
This book is a good read for an overall review of the antebellum era and the events that shaped the country prior to the Civil War, but it lacks the depth of inquiry I was hoping to find in regards to General Scott.
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Format: Paperback
This rather wooden biography of Scott does not begin to cover in any details the complexity of this man and the times he lived in. As a military historian, Eisenhower seems to gloss over much of Scott's battlefield tactics. This is surprising. His description of the battle of Lundy's Lane, argueably the bloodiest encounter in the War of 1812, is given scant attention here. At this battle, Scott pioneered using a French Napoleanic colume to attack the British position on the bluff above the town. Scott tried this attack hours after the battle had been raging, and long after his own brigade had been shot to pieces by the British. His attack again failed, the British vollies ripping into his column, but the event marked Scott as an important tactical innovator in the fledgling US army. None of this is mentioned in Eisnhower's account of the battle.
The remaining portion of this book moves at a snail's pace. Eisenhower's prose is not inspiring, and at times clumsy. Too much time is spent on Scott's petty intrigues with US Presidents and rival generals. In the course of which we learn little of his domestic life, and even less about Winfield Scott, the man. Scott was a brilliant, but arrogant, elistest individual. He envisioned himself as to the manor born, and wanted nothing better than to be a european aristocrat. Eisenhower gives us very little of this perspective.
The narrative picks up a little for the Mexcian War chapters as the author has already published a book on this topic. Still, this biography is weak overall. For the length it spans, some 400 pages, the reader does not emerge with a great understanding of Winfield Scott. I would recommed a far better bio done recently by Timothy Johnson which is available from Amazon.com.
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Format: Paperback
Eisenhower does an adequete enough job relating the details of Scott's campaigns, but that is about all that can be said for this biography. A "life and times" it definitely isn't, since there is no attempt to examine in depth the political or social climate in which Scott was operating.
His personal life is curiously absent from this book, as though his family was strictly a peripheral matter. I am not even sure that his daughters are all listed by name in this book. One has no inkling what ever happens to any of them, or what Scott's relations were with them.
None of this helped in any way by Eisenhower's rather wooden prose. He simply does not have a flair for making a book more readable, and with a larger-than-life character like Winfield Scott, this is a shame. It would be nice to see a biographer like Robert V. Remini tackle this subject.
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