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Extras and Background Information for readers of Sherman's Memoirs

The contract:

Prominent on Appleton's postwar list, in common with other publishers, were the reminiscences and histories turned out by the admirals and generals who were now unemployed. The house had its share of successes with these, but the most notable was the Memoirs of William T. Sherman, in two volumes, published in 1875. It represented still another example of Appleton enterprise. William H. [Appleton] had seen a brief story in the morning paper reporting that Sherman had completed his autobiography, and told William W. [Appleton, his son] to get it. Young Appleton went with some reluctance, believing that another publisher must certainly have a contract by this time. Sherman's first words were, "I suppose you've come to make arrangements to publish my book."

Appleton admitted it and produced the company's contract form. Sherman took out a contract of his own and there ensued a friendly discussion.

"I must consult with my wife about this," Sherman said at last. "She settles all such matters for me."

Next day Mrs. Sherman declared that she thought the Appleton contract was much the better. Unexpectedly Sherman demonstrated the character that had made him notorious during the war. "No," he said firmly, "I've decided to sign my own."

The general was adamant on another point. Appleton tried to persuade him to distribute the book by subscription, with a large force of salesmen in the field who would sell four times more copies than would be possible in the general trade. Sherman refused. He would not run the risk, he said, of having any of his old soldiers bullied or cajoled into buying a book by their former commander.

—John Tebbel, Between Covers: The Rise and Transformation of American Book Publishing, Oxford University Press,(1987)

The war wasn't even over and the memoirs and analyses and articles were already appearing. in the October 1865 issue of HARPER'S "Sherman's Great March" by A. H. Guernsey appeared, accompanied by many illustrations. You can read this online at the MOA project, Volume 31, Issue 185, pp. 571-589.

More background information to come later. For now, look into the "Extras" pages we've built to help readers understand and appreciate In the Face of Death, where we have quite a bit of material about Sherman.


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Sherman's Memoirs Extras page updated 15 July 2003