(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

From the first sentence of the book, it is evident that Commager seeks to establish the significance of the Lee family in American history, including also the Carters, the maternal grandparents of Robert E. Lee. The result is an excellent biography that can inspire young readers to overcome hardships and disappointments and to accomplish great things. The material chosen by Commager seems to have been carefully selected to hold the attention of young readers and to urge them to use Lee as a role model for their own lives. Ward’s illustrations are designed for the same purpose, as those that depict Lee emphasize the gallantry and nobility of his character. Commager also traces the growing importance of spiritual faith in Lee’s life. He clearly describes Lee’s conviction that God controls human history and that one can only do what is right. This faith can be seen even in Commager’s quotation from Lee’s farewell message to his defeated army in 1865.

Another aspect of this biography that appeals to young adults is the description of Lee’s love for animals, especially his horses and cats. Commager reveals the role of Lee’s horses—first Creole, then Grace Darling, and finally the famous Traveller—in his military career. The author relates several examples of Lee’s love of cats, and he quotes from a humorous letter that Lee wrote from Texas to his young daughter in Virginia.

In America’s Robert E. Lee, Commager emphasizes how the stories that young Robert heard from his father...

(The entire section is 623 words.)