Besides recording his efforts to follow Jackson’s route, Cleary opines that contemporary lack of appreciation for the sort of Southern valor that Jackson represented decries the demise of historical knowledge and preservation of Civil War history. Cleary’s discursive commentary includes quirky remarks about popular culture and occasional condescending observations about people he encounters. He mentions the nation’s current racial and social divisions and expresses his disappointment that more people do not revere Jackson as much as he does ... Although the book may appeal to devoted fans of this hero of the Confederacy, it fails to provide new insight into Jackson’s character or accomplishments.
... [a] complex contemplation ... Throughout the narrative, Cleary reflects honestly on lessons he learned from teaching African-American teens in juvenile prison while struggling to understand Jackson, who started a Sunday school for black children but fought with passion for the slaveholding South. This dichotomy results in engaging depictions of war, including discussions of Jackson’s military genius and jaw-dropping mistakes alternating with contemplations of recent events including the racially motivated Charleston church shooting ... While he finds no resolution, Cleary provides a thoughtful, accessible look into both Jackson and the continued relevance of the Civil War.
Cleary, who observes that 'interest in the Civil War is a middle-aged white guy kind of thing,' is both sensitive and sensible, and readers along the way will learn both of Jackson’s gallantry and the essential wrongness of the enterprise for which he died ... An honest, searching book sure to tread on the toes of supremacists and iconoclasts alike.