Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne



Rate: 2/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers): In August I read the fascinating Robert E. Lee biography, Clouds of Glory by Michael Korda and found myself intrigued and curious by the very unique character of Stonewall Jackson. As such, when I stumbled across Rebel Yell, which explored Jackson’s rise to success and fame, as well as his untimely death, I was excited to pick up a book based on this eccentric Confederate General, especially considering how much I’d enjoyed Clouds of Glory. With that being said, Rebel Yell was a mediocre read that failed to keep me engaged and rapt as the story progressed. Of note, I’ve noticed when I give a book a 2/5 rating I’ve had many, many people comment on how the book must have been a bad read or that they would make sure to avoid picking it up themselves. I would like to counter this with the thought that within my rating system if I read a book that is ‘OK’ then I rate it as a two, whereas if I genuinely like the book in question then it deserves the rating of three. As such, Rebel Yell was not a bad or terrible book that I’m ostracizing in this review, it was in fact an just an ‘OK’ read that failed to connect with me on a higher level. Based on the many high reviews I’ve seen online for this book many readers will not agree with me, which is completely fine.  I love when readers have different opinions when reading the exact same book! I believe that my fault with the Rebel Yell lies in part with the formatting and organizing of the text, in which the story starts off with Jackson during the Civil War and incorporates flashbacks and stories throughout as the main narrative continues along toward his death. I feed off of organization and prefer a biography to begin with the subject matter’s parents and birth and follow them through till death. I really enjoy books that are able to capture events and influences within the person of interest’s childhood and adolescence that helped shape them into the individual that they eventually become. When nonfiction books use the flashback structuring, I’m almost always left feeling as though I was not given all of the information regarding the individual, as such am not able to fully connect or understand the aforementioned person. Other than the formatting issue, which again is a personal preference, Gwynne packed a ton on details and information regarding battles and correspondence into the Rebel Yell, which kept me reading for that purpose alone. Stonewall was truly unique and quirky individual who appears to have been born during the right time and place to make his name in history. Overall, while I didn’t necessarily enjoy Rebel Yell, especially compared to Clouds of Glory, it was still jam packed with oodles of details regarding the Civil War, including battles, politics, and everyday soldier life.


  1. If I pick this up, it sounds like I definitely need it to be a print copy — I think I’d have a really hard time listening to a book with lots of flashback sequences, especially a nonfiction one. I’m impressed you were able to follow it! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shame you didn’t enjoy this one more. It won my book of the year award a couple of years back – I found it a brilliant read that held my attention throughout, and brought Jackson completely to life. Gwynne even managed to interest me in the technicalities of the battles and weapons. Like you, my ratings aren’t a quality judgement – just an indication of how much I enjoyed a book – and for me this one was firmly 5 stars.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have also rated books a 2 that other people have loved. Thank goodness we don’t all like the same kind of book. Life would be very boring! I think it’s more important to be honest than to fudge what you think because you don’t want to offend folks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sabina! I completely agree and really appreciate the support. It is very tempting to second guess your feelings regarding a book when you see so many other people having different opinions, which again is a wonderful concept!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In “Rebel Yell,” journalist S.C. Gwynne, the author of “Empire of the Summer Moon,” captures Jackson’s complex character and military genius. And his striking and suspenseful narrative reminds us of the bloody brutality of the Civil War.


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