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Book notices.

Life of Alexander H. Stevens. By Richard Malcom Johnston and William Hard Browne. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

We are indebted to the publishers for a copy of this beautifully gotten up book, which, in paper, printing and binding, is in the usual style of the work of this famous house.

The literary execution of the book is admirable. Mr. Johnston has been for years an intimate friend of Mr. Stephens, and has had some peculiar advantages in gathering material for a true picture of the inner life of the “great commoner.” Mr. Browne has added his fine literary taste and skill, and the book is one of deep interest — indeed, a charming specimen of biography. The extracts from Mr. Stephens' private letters, diaries and conversations, as well as from his public speeches, enhance the value of the book.

Mr. Stephens' long public career, his unquestioned ability, and his high character give a certain degree of importance to his utterances. But each one must, of course, judge for himself as to the correctness of many of his opinions and acts. We do not here pass upon them at all.

[256] Destruction and reconstruction — personal Experiences af the late war. By Richard Taylor, Lieutenant-General in the Confederate Army. New York : D. Appleton & Co.

We are indebted to the publishers for a copy of this really charming book, which we have read with deep interest.

If the style is sometimes pedantic, flippant, and occasionally even coarse, it is always sprightly, often sparkling, and throughout decidedly entertaining. There is not a page in the book over which one could nod. Indeed, we found ourselves riveted to its pages in the “wee sma‘ hours” of the morning. A competent military critic, who served under General Taylor the last year of the war, has promised us a full review of the book for our next number. We will, therefore, content ourselves with saying now that General Taylor's descriptions of the campaigns in which he served are very vivid and will be valuable material for the future historian, marred only by the fact that, in the haste of writing, he has not always verified his facts, and is sometimes inaccurate in his statements — e. g., his account of the battle of First Manassas strangely adopts the Federal version that the battle was decided by Johnston's coming to Beauregard's help at a critical juncture of the battle, on the 21st of July, when, if he had consulted the official reports, he would have seen that General Johnston arrived with the bulk of his force the day before, and that the only troops from Johnston's army who arrived during the battle were three regiments under Kirby Smith and Elzey.

General Taylor's criticisms of men and measures are trenchant, sharp and decided, and there will be, of course, difference of opinion as to whether they are always just. For example, we very decidedly protest against his opinion of General Lee as a military man, and so far from admitting that he was merely a master of defensive warfare, and that “the tendency of engineer service to unfit men for command” had spoiled him as the leader of great armies and the manager of great campaigns, we believe that when the facts are all brought out, the difficulties against which he contended considered, and the overwhelming numbers and resources opposed to him calmly weighed, the future historian will write Lee down as not only the greatest general which this country has ever produced, but one of the ablest commanders in all history.

Some of General Taylor's pen portraits are very vivid, life-like and accurate. We have space for only his portrait of Stanton, of whom he says: “A spy under Buchanan, a tyrant under Lincoln and a traitor to Johnson, this man was as cruel and crafty as Domitian. I never saw him. In the end, conscience, long dormant, came as Alecto, and he was not; and the temple of justice, on whose threshold he stood, escaped profanation.”

The Appletons have brought out the book in a style worthy of their reputation, and it will doubtless have a wide sale.

Since the above notice was penned a telegram announces that General Taylor died in New York on the 12th of April.

In his death a gallant soldier, an able commander, a brilliant writer and a genial, accomplished gentleman has passed from a wide circle of admiring, loving friends.

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