Part One of a Two-Part Review of
Robert E. Lee and Me
A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point
[Publisher’s Note, by Gene Kizer, Jr. : I am honored to present Col. Jerry D. Morelock’s review, below, as Part One of a two-part review of Ty Seidule’s Robert E. Lee and Me. Next week will be Part Two, by me.
I was originally going to include Col. Morelock’s review in one blog post, together with my own, but quickly decided his should stand on it’s own.
Below, is Col. Morelock’s bio followed by his excellent assessment of Robert E. Lee and Me.]
JERRY D. MORELOCK, PhD, Colonel, U.S. Army, ret., is a 1969 West Point graduate who served 36 years in uniform. A decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, his assignments included Pentagon tours on the Department of the Army staff and in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, Joint Chiefs of Staff. His final active duty assignment was head of the history department of the US Army Command & General Staff College. An award-winning author, he has published several books and hundreds of journal and magazine articles. His books include Generals of the Bulge: Leadership in the U.S. Army’s Greatest Battle (Stackpole, 2015) and (as a contributing author) Pershing’s Lieutenants: American Military Leadership in World War I edited by David Zabecki and Douglas Mastriano (Osprey, 2020).
After Army retirement, he was Executive Director of the Winston Churchill Memorial & Library at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (2000-2004) and is adjunct faculty professor of history and political science at Westminster. He was Editor in Chief of Armchair General magazine (2004-2015), and currently is Senior Editor/Senior Historian for three military history magazines.
Don’t Be Fooled by Ty Seidule’s “West Point Professor/Brigadier General” Misleading Credentials
by Jerry D. Morelock
Lest any potential buyer/reader of this book be swayed by the seemingly “impressive military credentials” of the author, please let me explain what those credentials really comprise and represent when the author acquired them by being a former ‘permanent professor’ and ‘department head’ in the academic department of the US Military Academy at West Point.
First of all, Ty Seidule did not earn his rank of ‘Brigadier General’ by being competitively selected by a Department of the Army promotion selection board from among his peers, but, per standard procedure for retiring USMA academic department heads, was merely given that general officer1 rank upon his retirement from military service (that is, as he exited military service, he was ‘awarded’ that rank — essentially like a long-serving corporate executive would get a ‘gold watch’ as he walked out the door).
Seidule never served on active duty as a ‘general officer’ commanding a tactical unit (apparently, based on his bio, he commanded a tank platoon – a Lieutenant’s command – and his highest unit command appears to be an armored battalion – a Lieutenant Colonel’s command); so some of the reviews on this book asking, “Was he a warrior general or was he not?” sadly miss the point because they are simply unaware of where Seidule’s ‘general’ rank came from, and not their fault — Seidule was never a general until he retired.
Second, Seidule’s author bio emphasizes that he served on active duty for “36 years” (coincidentally, the same as I did) but also notes that he spent “two decades” teaching history at West Point – so, immediately, that means Seidule had, at most, 16 years of ‘real’ military service in the ‘real’ Army — serving on the staff & faculty at West Point is hardly ‘real’ military service, as it is a completely artificial environment in every possible way (how do I know? my own 36 years of service included eight years at USMA, four as a cadet, graduating in 1969, and four more years later serving on the USMA staff & faculty).
Being a ‘permanent professor/department head’ at West Point means serving in the artificial, hermetically-sealed environment that exists at the Military Academy, completely separate and distinct from the day-to-day, rough and tumble ‘real’ Army.
The bottom line is that the title ‘Brig. Gen.’ given to a former USMA permanent professor/department head does NOT carry the same weight and prestige as an Army officer EARNING that rank on his own military merits — it was merely given to Seidule for ‘staying the course’ for 20 years as a West Point professor.
And his claimed ’36 years’ of military service is really only, at best, 16 years in the REAL ARMY when his 20 years in an academic department at USMA is factored into his overall service.
I only present this information to alert readers that there is a profound difference between ‘real’ US Army brigadier generals and those who, like Seidule, are simply awarded that rank upon retirement; plus when his claimed 36 years of military service has the 20 years serving at West Point removed, Seidule’s actual military service is about the same as that of an Army Major.
His book on Lee is nothing more than his revisionist ‘sucking up’ to his new civilian academic buddies, ingratiating himself into the camaraderie of his new ‘Woke’ buds and has nothing of any historical revelation to share in this so-called ‘book.’
It’s not a researched, thoughtful book based on new information or new evaluation of previous information. In fact, it ignores Lee’s significant post-Civil War efforts to bring the divided nation back together – which was Lee’s “finest hour” as, for only one example, historian Charles Bracelen Flood revealed in his book Lee: The Final Years.
Seidule’s book seems merely to be his own ‘Hey! I’m so, so WOKE now!’ confessional, but disingenuously using his ‘BG’ rank, his misleading ’36 years’ service, and touting his ‘so what?’ West Point service to try to trick potential readers/buyers into spending actual money on his worthless book based on his misleading ‘military credentials.’
Don’t waste your money.