Book Review: Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S. C. Gwynne


The Good:

This book is thorough. For anything that deals with actual historical facts, I find that I prefer this take on it. Gwynne did an incredible job balance history and storytelling. It is a fine balance that I certainly appreciated. History can often seem to be, for lack of a better term, cold. This book infused the historical facts with personalities and truly highlighted just who Stonewall Jackson was and what impacted his life.

I learned a lot reading this book. Again, this plays in part with how thorough Gwynne was in covering the actual historical facts. A lot of war theory that I either tuned out in high school or simply had never heard was presented in these pages. I also, obviously and expectedly, learned more about Stonewall Jackson himself. Again, the pages of history book can only go so far, and they typically avoid exploring anyone’s character. This is probably unavoidable and just fine, but this book certainly provides a closer look at who Jackson was and how the Civil War impacted him and shaped his life.

The Bad:

The only negative that I can think of for some is the mere length of this book. It’s also not a quick read. I consider myself to be a fast reader – this book took me every bit of three and a half weeks to get through. I did thoroughly enjoy it – but it’s a book that demands attention. If you skim, you’re likely to miss some of the true gems of the book.

The Verdict:

This book is an incredible feat. Gwynne put a lot of effort into this, and it shows on every page with painstaking details and footnotes and reference checks. Definitely worth the read for anyone who even has the slightest interest in the Civil War or Stonewall Jackson himself.