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John Esten Cooke was a writer, not a fighter, and yet he enjoyed (in every sense of the word) a remarkable and extensive Civil War career that took him from John Brown's raid to General Lee's surrender and put him in close touch with some of the greatest commanders in American history, most notable his much-admired cousin-in-law, J.E.B. Stuart. Wearing of the Gray, published in 1867, contains Cooke's best writing on the war - vignettes that display an eye for local color and the picaresque, a wry sense of humor, and a quick grasp of character. It includes eleven vivid portraits of both famous figures - such as Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, P.G.T. Beauregard, John Singleton Mosby, and Jubal Early - and less famous, as well as stories and sketches based on Cooke's experiences. Though Cooke tends to romanticize the past - as evinced in his merry rendition of Stuart's cavalry campaign in the summer of 1863, an event most participants remembered as nightmarish - he is equally capable, for example, of capturing with moving and stark simplicity what the surrender at Appomattox meant to the Confederates present there.About the Author:
John Esten Cooke was an American novelist, poet and Civil-War veteran best-known for his writings about his home state of Virginia. Although trained as a lawyer, Cooke was able to support himself with his writing from the very beginning of his career, and eventually produced more than 200 published works, including the novels The Virginia Comedians and The Wearing of the Gray, and biographies about General Robert E. Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson. Although Cooke served under General J. E. B. Stuart during the American Civil War, he was not suited to military life and returned to his writing at the war s end. Cooke died 1886 and is commemorated in the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award, awarded annually by the Military Order of the Stars and Bars.
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