Lengel, Edward G. 1968-
Lengel, Edward G. 1968-
Born August 9, 1968. Education: University of Virginia, M.A., 1993, Ph.D. 1998.
Historian, educator, and writer. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, associate professor of history.
The Irish through British Eyes: Perceptions of Ireland in the Famine Era, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2002.
World War I Memories: An Annotated Bibliography of Personal Accounts Published in English since 1919, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2004.
General George Washington: A Military Life, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918, H. Holt (New York, NY), 2008.
(Editor) This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters, Smithsonian Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Edward G. Lengel, a history professor with a specific interest in military history, is one of the editors of The Papers of George Washington, and has written several volumes on his own, including a biography on Washington called General George Washington: A Military Life. The book follows Washington's military career from 1753, when he was named a major in the Virginia militia, through his death in 1799, and makes use of Lengel's access to Washington's papers. Robert Flatley, in a review for Library Journal, called the book "well researched and written, with detailed battle descriptions." In The Irish through British Eyes: Perceptions of Ireland in the Famine Era, Lengel examines the country from 1840 to 1860, with a focus on Anglo-Irish relations during the period. Albion contributor W.J. Lowe noted that the book is "a significant contribution to our understanding of a pivotal period in British and Irish history and the development of racial assumptions to explain difference."
As editor of This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters, Lengel presents Washington's personal and professional letters written primarily during the course of the war. A prolific letter writer, Washington produced approximately 140,000 missives. The book contains a selection of the most important and interesting letters, with many never having been previously published, including notes to his family and friends, colleagues, and Congress. The letters provide insights into Washington's emotional ups and downs as well as his tactical and strategic thinking. "The book is a three-dimensional look at one of American history's most one-dimensionally viewed figures," wrote John Kelly in an article on A&S Online. In the same article, the author told Kelly: "I went into the book just with the idea of trying to discover in the process of writing about it and the process of researching it what kind of a man he was and how important he was. I didn't want to do a hatchet job … [and] I didn't want to just fawn and gush about how great he was."
Lengel turns his attention to World War I in his book To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918. In his book, which a Kirkus Reviews contributor called a "lucid history," the author looks at a horrific battle that began on September 26, 1918, as one million American soldiers prepared to assault the German-held Meuse-Argonne region of France. While U.S. General John J. Pershing believed the battle would be over within two days, it dragged on for six weeks with the savage fighting resulted in 120,000 American casualties, including thousands of deaths. Lengel gives an in-depth account of the battle and provides portraits of many of the participants, who included not only Pershing but also the fabled World War I hero Alvin York, future U.S. President Harry Truman, and George Patton, who would go on to become a famed World War II general.
In a review of To Conquer Hell in Booklist, Gilbert Taylor noted the "harshness" of Lengel's appraisal of Pershing's battle plan and wrote that the battle's "strange obscurity might be dispelled by Lengel's able history." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the historical account "an evocative narrative grounded in copious research and judicious historical assessments," adding that it likely "will … become the standard work on this neglected epic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, fall, 2003, W.J. Lowe, review of The Irish through British Eyes: Perceptions of Ireland in the Famine Era, p. 515.
Booklist, November 15, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918, p. 17.
Choice, December, 2004, C.P. Vincent, review of World War I Memories: An Annotated Bibliography of Personal Accounts Published in English since 1919, p. 640.
Journal of Southern History, February, 2003, Charles Royster, review of The Papers of George Washington, p. 146.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of To Conquer Hell.
Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Robert Flatley, review of General George Washington: A Military Life, p. 79.
Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2007, review of To Conquer Hell, p. 46.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2004, review of World War I Memories, p. 32.
A&S Online,http://aands.virginia.edu/ (February 22, 2007), John Kelly "George in War," discussion with author of author's works.
HarperCollins,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (February 2, 2008), description of The Glorious Struggle.