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American Experience: Robert E. Lee

Airs Monday, January 3, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: This film examines the life and reputation of Robert E. Lee (pictured), whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and hero of the Confederacy and who was elevated to almost god-like status by his admirers after his death.

Photo Gallery: Lee the Man

Although we know Robert E. Lee as a central character in America's defining national trauma, the Civil War, many do not know the full character that was Lee. Through these images, we see a very human Lee, from the young boy coping with the abandonment of an admired but disgraced father, to the infirm and short-tempered general who carried the weight of Confederate hopes on his shoulders.

Robert E. Lee is celebrated by handsome equestrian statues in countless cities and towns across the American South and by no less than five postage stamps issued by the government he fought against during the four bloodiest years in American history. Nearly a century and a half after his death, Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration.

This film examines the life and reputation of the general, whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and the hero of the Confederacy and who was elevated to almost god-like status by his admirers after his death.

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