Visual memories, especially those of boyish vintage, tend to be inexact but I am pretty confident of this one: Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton was a short, gnomish, balding figure, longtime chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina, and founder of the great Southern Historical Collection there. And more to the present point, a valued friend and mentor to my father and his older brother, who had studied under him in the 1920s.Read more
With the debt ceiling thing done, the scribes are now straining for the illuminating metaphor and “terrorism,” it seems, is the preferred choice. One New York Times columnist writes that “the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people,” and you had to wonder if he would have accused even Osama bin Laden of that. Another Times columnist describes the Tea Party as “the Hezbollah faction” of the Republican Party. Maureen Dowd, the Times’s diva columnist went with a different, idiosyncratic metaphor. The whole thing, she writes, was like a horror movie, a “gory, Gothic melodrama on the Potomac … without the catharsis.”Read more
Check out Jonathan D. Horn's review of Lincoln on War, Harold Holzer's latest addition to the more than 16,000 books about our sixteenth president. The book focuses on Lincoln's thoughts and speeches about war, and Holzer has pieced together a narrative that allows the reader to follow the president's thought process as he leads the nation through the most difficult period of its brief history:Read more
It’s the year for revisiting the Civil War, and also, alas, for “revisioning”—according to current sensibilities—how the war should be remembered. A recent casualty of the blogosphere skirmishes is the famous letter from Union major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah, written a week before his death in the first battle of Bull Run. (The full text of the letter is available here.)Read more
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh survived a rocket attack on the presidential palace in Sana’a today, and he is reportedly planning to address the country sometime soon. This latest episode is more evidence that the country where the most active al Qaeda franchise has found sanctuary is sliding toward civil war.Read more
As with Christmas form letters and amateur poetry, I don’t take kindly to friends sticking books in my hand that lie outside my areas of interest, then insisting that I must read them. When one recently did just that with Born to Run, it was nearly cause for excommunication. Sure, I subscribe to the notion that this town rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide wrap, we gotta get out while we’re young. But I’ve never entirely trusted Springsteen.Read more
The first men to die in the American Civil War fell on this day, 150 years ago, on Pratt Street in Baltimore. Troops en route to Washington were confronted downtown by rioters, and the fighting cost four federal soldiers and 12 civilians their lives.Read more
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