Light-Horse Harry Lee
The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary Hero - The Tragic Life of Robert E. Lee's Father
"It would be hard to write a dull book on Light-Horse Harry, and Mr. Cole's is far from it.... [The book] contains passages of considerable eloquence."— WALL STREET JOURNAL book review
"Light-Horse Harry blazes across the pages of Ryan Cole's narrative like a meteor—and his final crash is as destructive. Cole tells his story with care, sympathy, and where necessary, sternness. This book is a great, and sometimes harrowing read." —Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review and author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington
Who was "Light-Horse Harry" Lee?
Gallant Revolutionary War hero. Quintessential Virginia cavalryman. George Washington’s trusted subordinate and immortal eulogist. Robert E. Lee’s beloved father. Founding father who shepherded the Constitution through the Virginia Ratifying Convention.
But Light-Horse Harry Lee was also a con man. A beachcomber. Imprisoned for debt. Caught up in sordid squabbles over squalid land deals. Maimed for life by an angry political mob.
Light-Horse Harry Lee’s life was tragic, glorious, and dramatic, but perhaps because of its sad, ignominious conclusion historians have rarely given him his due—until now.
Now historian Ryan Cole presents this soldier and statesman of the founding generation with all the vim and vigor that typified Lee himself. Scouring hundreds of contemporary documents and reading his way into Lee’s life, political philosophy, and character, Cole gives us the most intimate picture to date of this greatly awed but hugely talented man whose influence has reverberated from the founding of the United States to the present day.
Published: January, 2019
“Light-Horse Harry blazes across the pages of Ryan Cole’s narrative like a meteor—and his final crash is as destructive. Cole tells his story with care, sympathy, and where necessary, sternness. This book is a great, and sometimes harrowing read.”
~Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review and author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington
“Lee was a bold and often reckless character whose tragic life ended up tracing the distance between valiant Revolutionary service under George Washington and the depths of bankruptcy, debtor’s prison, and a painful end. Cole captures it all in admirably lapidary prose, in the process bringing to life the vanished world of the early American republic, a world of both opportunity and peril.”
~Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma
“This page-turning biography brings Robert E. Lee’s father vividly back to life.”
~Harold Holzer, 2008 winner of the National Humanities Medal and 2015 winner of the Lincoln Prize
“Ryan Cole’s new biography of Henry Lee—the daredevil cavalry master of the American Revolution and the father of Robert E. Lee—provides us with a portrait nearly as headlong and fast-paced as ‘Light-Horse Harry’ himself.”
~Allen Guelzo, Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College and author of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion