Controversial Hood Biography Garners Plaudits
Last spring, ECW offered a series of guest posts by author Stephen M. “Sam” Hood, a descendent of Confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood. Sam recently received some good news: his book, John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General, was selected as the 2014 winner of the Albert Castel Book Award. The award is given biennially by the Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table to authors writing on the subject of the Civil War in the Western Theater.
“I knew we had a very special book from the moment I first read the manuscript, but all of us at Savas Beatie are thrilled and humbled that John Bell Hood won such a prestigious award,” said Theodore P. Savas, the managing director for Savas Beatie, publisher of the book. “We were always confident that anyone who actually took the time to read Stephen Hood’s book, whether in reviewing it or for pleasure, would find it original, well-researched, and truly ground-breaking in what it exposes about the state of this slice of Civil War historiography.”
According to Savas, John Bell Hood was one of the Confederacy’s most enigmatic generals. He died at 48 after a brief illness in August of 1879, leaving behind the first draft of his memoirs, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies. Published posthumously the following year, the memoirs immediately became as controversial as their author. Sam Hood’s book offers what the publisher calls a “careful and balanced examination of these ‘controversies’ . . . coupled with the recent discovery of Hood’s personal papers (which were long considered lost)” to finally set the record straight.
“It surprises people, I think, when they find out Sam’s work is not an argument that Hood was the overlooked Jackson or Lee,” Savas added. “It is about intellectual honesty and rigorous scholarship, and a cautionary tale about both. Anyone writing about General Hood or his tenure with the Army of Tennessee in the future who ignores this book and/or his recently discovered personal papers will do so at his peril.”
According to reviewing members of the Kalamazoo CWRT:
“The voluminous inclusion of citations to historical documents and other primary source material challenge previous interpretations of Hood’s military actions. A look back at past author’s interpretations of John Bell Hood’s record reveals the biases, inventions, and myths that have darkly colored his Civil War reputation. This book refutes the aspersions of ‘historians’ to name Hood the sole cause of the loss of Atlanta, and failure at Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville.” – Margean Gladysz
“Anyone who wants the true story of the fall of Atlanta and the Tennessee campaign needs to study this book.” – Graham Hollis
“Sam Hood makes a compelling case that Hood’s reputation has been unjustifiably tarnished over the years by authors who have repeated half-truths and myths that are not supported by primary sources. Even people with little or no interest in Hood should read it as a cautionary tale that the things that ‘everybody knows’ are not always true.” – Dave Jordan
“As an author whose book challenges orthodoxy and is critical of the historiography of some established authors,” explained Hood, “I never anticipated receiving an honor such as the Albert Castel Award. Books that criticize literature are rarely embraced, thus the depth of my gratitude is impossible to express.”
Hood graduated from Kentucky Military Institute, Marshall University (BBA, 1976), and is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. A collateral descendant of General Hood, Sam is a retired industrial construction company owner, past member of the Board of Directors of the Blue Gray Education Society, and a past president of the Board of Directors of Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans. He lives in his hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, with his wife of 35 years, Martha, and is the proud father of two sons: Derek Hood of Lexington, Kentucky, and Taylor Hood of Huntington, West Virginia.