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Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

From Library Journal

The extraordinary life of Confederate guerrilla John Singleton Mosby defies belief. Ramage (Northern Kentucky Univ.; Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan) casts Mosby, whose raiders harassed Union rear columns and supply trains in the Shenandoah Valley, as the stoic icon of the Lost Cause who never hesitated to employ stealth, terror, and pillage against an equally resolute foe. Mosby never had more than 400 irregulars under his command, yet his raids occupied an enemy force many times that number. As an attorney in postwar Virginia, Mosby attempted to unite state conservatives behind Republican presidents Grant and Hayes and was spurned as a turncoat. He then took a number of Republican appointments, including U.S. consul in Hong Kong and assistant attorney in the Justice Department. In his later years, he lectured and wrote about his wartime experiences before passing away in 1916 at 82, fully redeemed on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Painstaking research, dramatic illustrations, and a useful bibliographic essay add to this absorbing biography. Highly recommended.AJohn Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Ramage can reasonably claim to have produced the first full-scale biography of legendary Confederate raider John Singleton Mosby. And a readable, comprehensive portrait of the 80-year life of a gifted, thoroughly combative man it certainly is. Before the war, Mosby shot a fellow student at the University of Virginia. During the war, he was an extraordinarily effective master of guerrilla tactics. Leading comparative handfuls of men, he did far more damage to the Union than the Union did to him. Only regular antiguerrilla measures were effective against him. After the war, Mosby's adherence to the Republican party made him persona non grata in the South, and he had to spend the rest of his career as a diplomat and federal attorney. Ramage has researched thoroughly--including interviewing one of Mosby's surviving grandchildren--and written clearly, making the book accessible to a wide range of readers. Slight pro-Confederate and psychobiographical elements do not seriously weaken this valuable addition to Civil War literature. Roland Green
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

A comprehensive biography of the Confederate guerrilla leader (18331916), with an emphasis on his Civil War exploits. Ramages (History/Northern Kentucky Univ.; Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan, not reviewed) well-documented volume charts the progress of Mosby from a boyhood victim of playground bullies to an icon of the Confederacy. Proceeding in fairly chronological fashion, Ramage focuses on Mosby's stunning career as a guerrilla leader, a man who was shot several times (once in the grointhe bullet remained in his body), who quoted Lord Byron while he harassed the Union troops relentlessly despite repeated attempts to capture or kill him. Ramage is most at ease in these sections, moving steadily (if unspectacularly) through descriptions of strategies and firefights that generally end with Mosby's men stealing Union horses and supplies (which they divided among themselves), killing enemy soldiers, and disappearing into the woods like, well, gray ghosts. The author credits Mosby with innovations in guerrilla strategy (e.g., in close combat, his cavalry used two handguns each instead of the traditional saber) and more than once characterizes him as ``one of the most brilliant minds in the history of guerrilla war.'' The final 66 pages deal with Mosby's long postCivil War life. He was, among other things, a private attorney, US consul in Hong Kong, an employee of the US Interior and Justice departments, a popular lecturer and writer. He even portrayed himself in a lost silent film. Ramage sometimes slips into the biographer's trapadmiring his subject so thoroughly that he can utter only a rare discouraging word about Mosby, who owned slaves and once shot an unarmed classmate. Also unconvincing is the cereal-box psychology Ramage applies to Mosbyviz., his boyhood battles with bullies explain his ferocious fighting spirit. A volume that will become the standard reference on Mosbyintelligent and thorough, but at times flattering rather than analytical. (32 b&w illustrations, 7 maps, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

""Undoubtedly the best book to appear on this topic to date." --Arkansas Historical Quarterly" --
""A readable, comprehensive portrait of the 80-year life of a gifted, thoroughly combative man." --Booklist" --
""A thorough biography of the Virginian." --Charleston Post and Courier" --
""Likely to be the best biography of the Confederate partisan leader John S. Mosby for a long time to come." --Choice" --
""Ramage's comprehensive and convincing study could not be more timely or more welcome." --Chronicle" --
""Ramage has done fine work in clarifying the tangled story of Mosby's many fights, the complicated contexts of Yankee plans, and in assessing and refusing to overestimate Mosby's contribution to the Confederate war effort.... Comprehensive and convincing." --Chronicles" --
""A comprehensive account of the partisan leader, written with objectivity, suspense, humor, and insight." --Civil War Courier" --
""Seems destined to become a primer in Civil War biographical writing -- and rightfully so." --Civil War History" --
""Will stand as an invaluable Mosby reference." --Civil War News" -- Civil War News
""No biographer of Mosby has woven the various threads of Mosby's life together as deftly as Ramage does in this portrait of one of the Civil War's most compelling figures." --Civil War Times" --
""Ramage's work represents the very best on Mosby that can be done." --Emory M. Thomas" --
""The most thoroughly researched biography of Mosby to date." --Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star" --
""Mosby achieved far greater fame during the Civil War than the vast majority of the military officers who outranked him. Ramage disentangles Mosby from a mass of myth and misinformation, reaching judicious conclusions that never exaggerate the Virginian's role in shaping the conflict." --Gary W. Gallagher" --
""Exhaustive and well researched." --Indiana Magazine of History" --
""A comprehensive and well-researched biography.... Should satisfy both a popular audience and historians interested in guerrilla operations." --Journal of Military History" --
""Well researched and clearly written, Ramage's book puts Mosby in balanced perspective." --Journal of Southern History" --
""Any history buff is sure to appreciate this account of a great military genius." --Kentucky Living" --
""A volume that will become the standard reference on Mosby." --Kirkus Reviews" --
""An engaging, expertly researched biography." --Lexington Herald-Leader" --
""The documented exploits of Mosby and his raiders read like the most exciting adventure fiction." --Library Booknotes" --
""Painstaking research, dramatic illustrations, and a useful bibliographic essay add to this absorbing biography. Highly recommended." --Library Journal" --
""Offers a lively, immensely detailed record of Mosby's wartime career and a vivid summary of his equally turbulent post-war life." --New York Times Book Review" --
""Emphasizes Mosby's psychological impact on Federal forces, particularly frustrated commanders such as Phil Sheridan, and stresses the guerrilla commander's contributions to Southern pride." --North & South" --
""Superbly researched and carefully argued.... The most comprehensive study of the cavalryman's career." --North Carolina Historical Review" --
""A rewarding read for Civil War buffs and those interested in an ambitious, but engaging, description of his exceptional story." --Ohio Valley History" --
""Strips away the veneer of myth that has enshrouded Mosby for generations and reveals a complex personality far more fascinating than the one celebrated in folklore." --Register of the Kentucky Historical Society" --
""The last word belongs to Lee, who always admired dash and daring. 'Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him.' Ramage's Gray Ghost shows us why." --Southern Partisan" --
""A stirring story in its first half, like something out of Robin Hood or Camelot, and sad in the second half, as the South turns its back on Mosby after the War for supporting Grant for president and as the State Department tries to suppress his exposing of corruption among appointed officers serving in foreign embassies." --Southern Seen" --
""Diligently explores the hardships of Mosby's postwar career, a period too often neglected by those who seek to make Mosby an icon of unreconstructed southernism." --Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" --
""The first full biography of the renowned Confederate partisan ranger." --Appalachian Quarterly" --
""Gray Ghost is a comprehensive biography of the renowned Confederate partisan ranger, who possessed a genius for irregular warfare and became an expert at using fear as a weapon." --Kentucky Monthly" --
""According to Gray Ghost, Mosby was one of the war's most intriguing personalities." --Courier-Journal" --
""[An] entertaining and informative biography... reveals in vivid prose why Mosby became such an effective raider in the Virginia theater." --Bowling Green Daily News" --
""A small wisp of a man, always restless and absolutely fearless, Mosby raised guerrilla warfare to a sophisticated level.... Ramage's book is the best biography we have of Mosby... a deserved tribute to both the subject and author." --Roanoke Times" --
""[This book] is mainly about his Civil War period but includes his life before and after the war. He was a rare rebel who after the Civil War worked with and supported Republican national leaders. The book is a joy to read." --Benet Exton, newsok.com" --
""This book was a joy to read and it was hard to put it down. One can easily lose their self in the story and forget the outside world. This book is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts and anyone wanting to know more about unique personalities in American history." --Benet Exton, catholicnewsagency.com" -- Benet Exton, catholicnewsagency.com
""[Gray Ghost] tells the fascinating story of the leader who not only revolutionized the art of the night raid during the Civil War, but who set the precedent for exploiting the psychology of fear to gain essential victories." --civilwar,com" --
""Down through the years, several books have been written about the life of Mosby. For the first time author James A. Ramage has gathered all of the loose threads of Mosby's life together and woven a complete portrait of the guerilla commander and his contributions to the Confederate cause. This thoroughly researched and documented biography will be the standard reference on John Mosby for years to come." --The Lone Star Book Review" --
""This is the first comprehensive biography of the renowned Confederate guerilla fighter from Viginia's eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge."--Appalachian Heritage" --

From the Inside Flap

"Mosby achieved far greater fame during the Civil War than the vast majority of the military officers who outranked him. Ramage disentangles Mosby from a mass of myth and misinformation, reaching judicious conclusions that never exaggerate the Virginian's role in shaping the conflict."--Gary W. Gallagher "A stirring story in its first half, like something out of Robin Hood or Camelot, and sad in the second half, as the South turns its back on Mosby after the War for supporting Grant for president and as the State Department tries to suppress his exposing of corruption among appointed officers serving in foreign embassies."--Southern Seen “The last word belongs to Lee, who always admired dash and daring. ‘Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him.’ Ramage’s Gray Ghost shows us why.”—Southern Partisan “Emphasizes Mosby’s psychological impact on Federal forces, particularly frustrated commanders such as Phil Sheridan, and stresses the guerrilla commander’s contributions to Southern pride.”—North & South “Ramage has done fine work in clarifying the tangled story of Mosby’s many fights, the complicated contexts of Yankee plans, and in assessing and refusing to overestimate Mosby’s contribution to the Confederate ware effort. . . . Comprehensive and convincing.”—Chronicles “No biographer of Mosby has woven the various threads of Mosby’s life together as deftly as Ramage does in this portrait of one of the Civil War’s most compelling figures.”—Civil War Times “Diligently explores the hardships of Mosby’s postwar career, a period too often neglected by those who seek to make Mosby an icon of unreconstructed southernism.”—Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

James A. Ramage, Regents Professor of History at Northern Kentucky University, is the author of John Wesley Hunt: Pioneer Merchant, Manufacturer, and Financier and Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan. He lives in Highland Heights, Kentucky.

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