I don’t mean to take anything away from the text of Nothing Less Than Victory by John David Lewis, but the most interesting thing about the book, which is the subject of today’s NRO podcast, may be its cover. It features a scene from Greek mythology. On the back, it says in small print: “Jacket illustration: Theseus and the Centaur, by William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), May 1, 1838, graphite on paper. Courtesy of West Point Art Collection, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.”
In other words: The general was an artist. I had no idea.
We discuss the drawing at the end of our conversation. Lewis describes how he discovered this creation of an 18-year-old future general. He also offers a theory about why great generals are good artists: They see the world in full perspective, whether it’s a statue or a battlefield, observe the relationship between the parts, and translate it onto paper or into a strategy. Sherman’s drawing is modeled after a statue by Canova.
It makes you wonder if the vaults of West Point have any art by Gen. David Petraeus.
Next week’s podcast: Paul Davies on the search for alien intelligence.