This book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that,...moreThis book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that, in a speech, you're to tell your audience what you're going to say, say it and then review it. Might be a good strategy in speeches, not so much in books. The book is divided into three sections: Military Strategist, The General and His Army, The Man and His Families. As you can imagine, there's a lot of repeated material throughout the book. For the record, I'm not a fan of this type of biography. Just give me a beginning to end storyline. This book could have been (at least) a third shorter if the author had given us a traditional biography.
That being said, it is a good book. Sherman comes shining through the pages of this book. He was a brilliant strategist, handed the press well, always spoke his mind and was wise in his dealings with all sort of problems and people. Although he declined running for public office, I think he would have made a great president.
The author contends that "William Tecumseh Sherman's central historical importance is derived from his role in the physical consolidation of transcontinental America." I have to disagree. Stephen Ambrose, in his book on the building of the transcontinental railroad, "Nothing Like It in the World," puts Grenville Dodge front and center of the action. However involved and however important Sherman was to the completion of the railroad, I think his 'central historical importance' is summed up by the author at the end of the first section of this book, when he writes, "The Confederacy was an idea, and Sherman trampled it relentlessly—its symbols, its institutions, its pride—bled the life out of it, and replaced it with hopelessness. That's the way to win." That, to me, is Sherman's legacy. If the Civil War had been lost, the Federal government would not have had the fortitude to build the transcontinental railroad. And Sherman, as much as Grant, as much as Lincoln, won that war. The author states that "Sherman had played a key role in winning the Civil War"—I think that's understated. Sherman destroyed the Deep South's will to fight. Using might, strategy and psychological warfare, he replaced their arrogance with hopelessness. "...one soldier caught the mood of most when he berated a merchant whose store was on fire: 'Say, did you and your folks think of this when you hurrahed for secession before the war?'" Sherman's actions after the fall of Atlanta did more to demoralize the South than any other event in those four years. "In a matter of four months, he had brazenly paraded an army of sixty thousand through six hundred miles of enemy territory, taking what was wanted and daring any one to stop them."
While I recommend this book, I think that other biographies of this man are more succinct and offer a more balanced view of his career—such works as Lee Kennett's "Sherman: A Soldier's Life" come to mind.(less)
I just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. Ke...moreI just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy.
I found myself so mesmerized by the book that I forgot it was a work of fiction—so I think the author succeeded in painting an realistic picture of what a completed presidency of John F. Kennedy might have been like. Greenfield makes liberal use of actual quotes from historical figures, but not necessarily in the their real setting. This adds a bit of realism to the work.
You may not want to read further if you don't want elements of the plot revealed.
Greenfield postulates that Kennedy would have:
--recovered from his wounds in Dallas, creating a favorability bounce much like Reagan received in 1981. --skillfully removed troops from Vietnam, effectively eliminating the protest movement and all the ugliness that went with it. --dropped LBJ from the 1964 ticket, mostly because of financial malfeasance that was to surface against Johnson. --moved his brother from Attorney General to Secretary of Defense. --survived an attempt, by the military establishment, to discredit him by revealing his affairs. --by the end of his term in 1968, his physical maladies would have caught up with him and he'd be wheel-chair bound in private. --that Jackie would, at the end of his term, basically leave him to live and work in publishing in New York City.
The end of the book acknowledges that anyone of these events might have gone a different direction, that this is just one possibility. One of the final chapters is entitled A Different Country—But How Different? Greenfield drives home the point that the country would really not have been that different in 1968—at least politically. In the 1968 election the candidates are Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon Ronald Reagan. We're left to speculate on who would have won—my money would be on Reagan.
This is not a varnished portrayal of JFK by any stretch of the imagination. This is Kennedy warts and all. A lesser book would have had Robert Kennedy running for President in 1968 and winning. This is not that book. This book explores a plausible path that history may have taken if JFK had survived that day in Dallas. I'd give it a four and a half stars out of five.(less)
Few books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book up...moreFew books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book up. M.L. Stedman has a way with words! She was able to make me feel as I knew these characters, really knew them.
I was hooked in the first chapter and almost dismayed when she did back story in subsequent chapters, but in hindsight, it was necessary to build up the characters and make them "real." The book seems to have three parts—an almost idyllic happy time, a dark period and redemption. I won't say more than that for fear of giving too much away. I almost gave up at the beginning of what I'm calling the dark–period, but I'm glad I persevered, as the redemption was more than satisfying.
If you get a chance, pick this book up, you won't be disappointed.(less)
Anyone who knows me from the "old days"—IUP days—knows that I could always be called upon to espouse the latest theory on the assassination of John F....moreAnyone who knows me from the "old days"—IUP days—knows that I could always be called upon to espouse the latest theory on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In those days, books like Six Seconds in Dallas or They've Killed the President lined my book shelves. I've since come to the following conclusions about the assassination:
• Lee Harvey Oswald probably acted alone. • There are no secrets in our society. If, in 50 years, no other gunman has been identified, then it's probably because none exist. • Even so, the Warren Commission was flawed in the research, technique and conclusions.
So, it was with some hesitancy that I picked up End of Days. I first previewed it in iBooks and ran across these words that sealed the deal for me:
This book attempts to re-create a moment when time stopped. It seeks to recapture how Americans lived through this tragedy and to resurrect the mood and emotions of those unforgettable days between President John F. Kennedy's murder and his funeral... our misguided modern–day obsessions with exotic, multiple, and contradictory conspiracy theories involving tales of grassy knolls, umbrella men, magic bullets, second gunmen, Oswald impostors, doctored films, fraudulent photographs, and all–powerful government cover–ups has caused us to lose the emotional connection to the events of November 1963. We have strayed too far from the human truths of that day. A wife lost her husband. Two children lost their father. A nation lost a president... the death of one man caused a nation to weep. Half a century later, Americans refuse to forget him. We mourn him still.
Years ago, I read a book by Jim Bishop, The Day Lincoln Died, which avoided speculation about conspiracies, etc. and just told the story of that day; the human side of that drama. This book does the same.
I remember feeling a strange sadness while reading (pp. 60–63) about the Kennedy's plans after the Texas trip...JohnJohn's birthday party, a dinner party on Monday the 25th, Thanksgiving. Swanson successfully captures the anticipation we all felt (and still feel) about what would have happened if he had lived?
The author makes an assertion that is certainly interesting, especially if true. The author quotes Marina, on the night before the assassination: "'He (Oswald) suggested that we rent an apartment. He was tired of living alone.'" Marina, even after bargaining with Oswald to get a washing machine, said "no"—the author thinks that if she had said "yes" that Oswald would have changed his mind about killing Kennedy, saying, "If Oswald was not reconsidering killing Kennedy, he would have had no reason to find a better apartment or purchase a washing machine." Interesting proposition—so, is it Marina's fault?
The narrative on the shooting is riveting and suspenseful—quite an accomplishment, given that everyone knows the outcome. I found myself hoping for a missed third shot, even though I knew it's history.
The fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was a loser is evident throughout the book—I think this is the genesis of our obsession with assassination theories. We have trouble believing that a loser, like Oswald, could, all by himself, take the life of our "King" of "Camelot." That "such an inconsequential man as Oswald could change history in such a monumental way." The author does not delve into the assassination theories, other than to debunk them, writing, "They reject the proven role that chance, luck, randomness, coincidence, or mistake have played in human history for thousands of years. To them, there are no accidents in life. Everything that happens can be explained by conspiracy."
Why did Oswald kill Kennedy? The author speculates that "...in the end, perhaps the reason is much simpler and more fundamental and lies beyond rational human understanding: Lee Harvey Oswald was evil...(and) he taunts us still, defying us to solve the mystery of the why that he left behind."
The Dallas police, in a classic case of trying to please everyone and therefore pleasing none, bungled the handling of Oswald. Dallas law enforcement, afraid that the country was assigning "collective guilt" to Dallas for the assassination, treated the press with unheard of courtesy and access. Jack Ruby, a two-bit nightclub owner and Kennedy admirer, used the police's goodwill and media-sensitiveness to his advantage, killing Oswald as he was being transferred from one jail to another. When announced to the waiting crowd that Oswald had been shot and was on his way to Parkland hospital, there were "howls of delight outside the county jail...it was hard to not take pleasure in the knowledge that John Kennedy's murderer has suffered a kind of Old Testament or western vigilante justice for his great crime." Nevertheless, "most of the American people wanted Oswald to survive this day...(they) wanted answers. Who was he? How did he do it? Why did he do it? If Lee Harvey Oswald died, he would take his secrets to the grave."
Amazing, the Dallas police, while possessing seasoned investigators and interrogators, did not tape any of the interviews with Oswald. What were they thinking? This man just killed the president and they didn't record their interviews with him?
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, is as compelling as any drama written by William Shakespeare. It is the great American tragedy.
A year after the assassination, Jackie summed up the feelings of so many Americans when she said, "...so now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man."
James Swanson wanted this book to "re-create a moment when time stopped. It seeks to recapture how Americans lived through this tragedy..." I think Mr. Swanson has done this with aplomb. This is our modern day Death of a President told with the clarity that 50 years brings. But in the end, Kennedy is still "a legend when he would have preferred to be a man."(less)
I was initially excited to read this book and it began well. However, as I got into the middle of the book, the author introduced a new narrator and t...moreI was initially excited to read this book and it began well. However, as I got into the middle of the book, the author introduced a new narrator and the book began to drag. It became tedious and I had to make myself read it. Not what you want in a "page-turner." I found myself wanting to skim to the "good parts" and so I did.
There's nothing new here (spoiler alert). Some other guys fired the fatal shot from the Dal-Tex building. There's a lot of supporting evidence for...speed of the bullet, the way the third bullet disintegrated, etc. ...there being a different gun that fired the third and fatal shot. There's also been speculation that it was fired from the Dal-Tex building. The way Hunter crafted the plot was creative and imaginative and even gripping until he introduced the second narrator. This person, Meachum, added a lot of unnecessary (in my opinion) detail that simply made the book longer.
Can't say that I really recommend this book, but others might find it inthralling. (less)
"Before the advent of the vernacular Bible, which was made available to the general public by printing, most people did not know what the Bible actual...more"Before the advent of the vernacular Bible, which was made available to the general public by printing, most people did not know what the Bible actually said. Thereafter, they could read it for themselves and decide, for themselves, what it meant. Their free discussions about the authority of the Church and state fostered concepts of constitutional government in England, which in turn were the indispensable prerequisites for the American colonial revolt. Without the vernacular Bible—the English Bible in particular, through its impact on the reformation of English politics—there could not have been democracy as we know it, or even what today we call the "Free World."
In short, the English Bible, with all the followed in its train, had sanctioned the right and capacity of the people to think for themselves."
This passage from Wide as the Waters (p. 269) is the heart of author Benson Bobrick's hypothesis that "the English Bible remains the most influential book ever published and the King James Version the famous of all translations."
I did not read this book word for word. I skimmed a great deal because, frankly, all the details on (for instance) the backgrounds of the translators of the King James Version is of no interest to me.
Bobrick traces the origins of the English Bible through John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, King James I and John Bunyan. There's a lot of details on the lives of these men that may not interest the average reader. I love history and I found myself skimming some of the information.
However, a few of observations, 'take-aways', surfaced:
• people in charge, in authority do not, generally, like to have their position challenged. We see this clearly in the Gospels. The ruling Jewish authorities opposed Jesus, often vehemently, plotting and eventually achieving his death. So too was the case of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. Those leaders were opposed to translating the Bible—it threatened their power base. • the Bible will survive. In spite of opposition and persecution, the Bible lives on. I don't have a reference for this, but learned recently that a copy of the book of Isaiah, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (2400 years old), is (except for some punctuation) identical to the Isaiah found in our Bibles today! Remarkable. • the Word of God is living and active and does not return empty but accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish (Hebrews 4:12 & Isaiah 55:11) the Word continues to change lives and societies wherever and whenever people receive it in their tongue and can read it for themselves.
Pretty remarkable for a book, don't you think? Perhaps we should do something radical like base our lives on it.
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (trivia: the only named character in the parables), the rich man, in hell, begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers so they don't end up in hell too—
"But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. ’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. ’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."
Jesus in these verses (Luke 16:29-31) is telling us that the Scriptures are a more powerful witness to the truth than someone rising from the dead. People choose not to believe. There is nothing worse (that I can imagine) than being like the rich man and missing the opportunity of spending eternity with Jesus and knowing you've missed it.
Because of the work of men like the reformers and later Tyndale and others, the light of Scripture shone upon our forefathers and shines upon us today.(less)
I read this up through Lincoln's death, but then skimmed the rest. I have read so many books on this topic and I wasn't finding anything new, so I mer...moreI read this up through Lincoln's death, but then skimmed the rest. I have read so many books on this topic and I wasn't finding anything new, so I merely skimmed the remainder.(less)
Having watched the series on the History Channel, I was wanting to learn more. I downloaded the sample of this book and was hooked. Unfortunately, the...moreHaving watched the series on the History Channel, I was wanting to learn more. I downloaded the sample of this book and was hooked. Unfortunately, the beginning of the book is much better than the remainder.
The book starts strong and there is a lot of good information and it appears to be well researched. The book begins to disintegrate towards and middle and end. Granted, putting together a "history" based on so much conflicting oral stories had to be difficult and it appears that Ms. Alther was even-handed and balanced in her interruptions.
I agree with this reviewer: "Alther throws in some fatuous psychological conjecture, opining that the feud can give us fresh insights into the political situations in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur, that the men in both families were merely acting out their Oedipal urges, and that she herself inherited the psychic trauma of the violence of Appalachian culture in the 1800s." There was too much of that in the book.
Her opinions on character and her interruption of photographs bordered on ridiculous. Take for instance her thoughts on the photograph of Bud McCoy: "Having your father murdered when you are three years old, and your older brother when you are twenty-four, might put anyone in a permanently bad mood. A photo shows a young man with very dark hair and eyes, and a full mustache. He looks crazed, but possibly because his ears stick out like handles on an urn." REALLY? Alther would have been better leaving the pop-psychology to herself.
I'm glad I read the book and did learn some things. I am dismayed that the History Channel took the liberties it did (for instance, Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy were not in the Civil War together as depicted in the opening scenes of the series) with the story line. I understand that some things have to be changed and condensed, but they deviated from the history too much for my liking; but, then again, the History Channel is a disappointment to begin with—Pawn Stars? REALLY? We used to joke that the History Channel was the "Hitler channel" or the "WW II channel"—I wish they'd go back to those days.(less)
I got the book from the local library to read the Cornell Woolrich story "Rear Window," the basis for the Hitchcock movie of the same name. I won't do...moreI got the book from the local library to read the Cornell Woolrich story "Rear Window," the basis for the Hitchcock movie of the same name. I won't do the usual and say the book is better than the movie. I hate it when people do that—the book (short-story) was different than the movie. Each can stand on its own. I love tracking down original works that were made into movies. This was more satisfying than most.
Jimmy Stewart's character is still there, as is his detective friend. Much of the plot remains the same and Woolrich does a good job of making the "stage" come to life in the mind's eye. The ending, which I won't spoil, is different, but it's not one of those, 'oh, why did they ruin the movie' endings—both the movie and the story endings are equally satisfying. Gone is the housekeeper, replaced by someone named Sam and the Grace Kelly character is a movie feature only.
Good read. This book uses the title "Rear Window" for the short-story, but I understand its original title was "It Had To Be Murder." (less)
I didn't read this very quickly, mostly because it ministered to my soul. At just the right time, God brought this book into my life. This book on the...moreI didn't read this very quickly, mostly because it ministered to my soul. At just the right time, God brought this book into my life. This book on the Religious World of Civil War Soldiers turned out to be an unlikely encouragement to me. To read about the faith of these men and women, 150 years ago, has been a balm to me. How sad, as the author states in the preface, The marginalized role to which religion has been relegated in modern America has made the vital faith of past generations almost invisible to students of history. How can we hope to understand these men and women if we don't know about their faith; their faith was the foundation of what made them "tick." Woodworth, who is becoming one of my favorite authors, divides the book into two parts: 1) The Religious Heritage and Beliefs of the Civil War Soldiers and 2) The Civil War Soldiers, Their Religion and the Conflict. The author does a good job of using letters and diary entries from soldiers to illustrate his points. The first section is so peppered with the writings of the soldiers that it would seem that Woodworth didn't have to put forth much effort. But, nay, for Woodworth so crafts and knits together these writings that they flow with the ease of a good novel. Early on he addresses the paradox of both nations fighting under the same basic beliefs. He quotes Abraham Lincoln, who Woodworth boldly asserts (page 12) was "no Christian," to illustrate this problem:
Each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party.
While discussing Christianity in America Before the Civil war, The Actions of a Sovereign God, The Life to Come, The Way of Salvation & The Christian Life (chapter titles in this section), Woodworth gives the reader a good background in religious life and history in the mid-nineteenth century. Imagine my surprise, as a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia when I ran across this passage:
It was Sunday, May 26, 1861, and the large Presbyterian church in Rome, Georgia, was crowded. Taking up a large section of the pews near the front of the church were the newly minted soldiers of two of the four Floyd County companies then preparing for service...then Pastor John A. Jones rose to preach the farewell sermon to the troops who were scheduled to board the train for Richmond the next morning...he expounded what he considered to be the reasons for the beginning of hostilities, the rightness of the Southern position, and, finally, "the evidences of God's favor to the South as manifested during the Revolution to the present." (p. 117)
Pastor John A. Jones So, was this my church? Indeed it was! I went by the church and took a picture of Pastor Jones hanging in the entry From the church's website:
...the present structure in which we are still worshiping, was taken over by the Union Army during the Civil War and used for food storage. The pews were removed and used for the construction of horse stalls and a pontoon bridge to cross the river. The congregation was scattered and disorganized and the congregation had dwindled to some forty or fifty members, but God saw the church through the trials of war and revived it two years after the war.way along with our other pastors, dating back to 1833 when the church was founded.
A few other quotes to give you a flavor of the book:
...Abraham Lincoln, himself no Christian, demonstrated the prevalence of the Christian abolitionist argument in applying the teaching Christ directly to the issue of slavery: "As I would not be a slave, Lincoln said, "so I would not be a master." p. 12
I thought this was a rather bold statement for Woodworth to make—no one knows the state of another's soul.
...Lincoln's personal religious beliefs remained somewhat obscure to the end. He may have come to Christ late in his presidency, in late 1863 or 1864, but the evidence is unclear. p. 268
In the March/April 2006 issue of Sacred History, Ronald D. Rietveld does an excellent job of examining Lincoln's faith. He allows the reader to draw his own conclusion, though he does state, near the end of the article:
President Lincoln's final address of his life...is clearly marked by Christian statesmanship..."We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army give hop of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten"... In the last week of his life, President Lincoln proposed to his wife Mary that at the expiration of his second term they would travel together to Europe, and he "appeared to anticipate much pleasure from a visit to Palestine"—to Jerusalem, where he could walk in the place mentioned in the Bible, to walk in Jesus' footsteps. p. 94
There are several places where I found that Woodworth's personal view of Christianity came through in his writing—here in his assessment of Lincoln and elsewhere in his (my reading) bias against Calvinist. Perhaps, as a Calvinist I took too much of an affront to his comments. As the war progressed, religion and religious jargon crept in the language of the soldiers...
Beginning in the fall of 1862, large number of Union soldiers began referring to the North as "God's country"... Southerns were no longer to be viewed as misguided fellow countrymen but as evil foes of all that was good in America. p. 115
... to say that a soldier was a "sacrifice upon the altar of his country" was to give that soldier a special place in a new theology in which country, not God, occupied the position of deity... some Northerners to create a form of civil religion, a twisted version of Christianity in which the nation was god and rewarded those who sacrificed themselves in its cause. p.106-107
Lest we judge the North too harshly, the some Southerners were also wading in shallow theological waters...
...taking another tack, Rev. W.M. Crumley, chaplain to the Georgia hospital in Richmond, Virginia, even claimed that the South was right because it was fighting to keep the black race in its proper place..."making the Caucasian the Lord of Creation, and the negro his inferior and servant"... simple assertions that God favored the South and that proof of this was to be seen in His previous miraculous interventions on behalf of Confederate arms. p.131
The drawing near the end of the war saw a shift in attitudes, North and South. In the North, the Confederates were increasingly seen as "wicked," even given equality with Satan in this letter from a mother to her son in Union lines:
I was afraid you had been captured or killed by those heathenish wretches who are skulking about that and every other Secesh region, like the enemy of souls, seeking who he may devour." p. 261
Double ouch... Some in the North also began to develop "the concept that God was using the war to punish the North as well—perhaps for tolerating slavery, perhaps for a wrongful national pride..." (p.262). This reasoning was given as the rationale behind why the war drug on and on. As the end was drawing near, Southerners had a difficult time reconciling the course of the war with their belief that they were right and God would give victory to those in the right. Some began to think that, even though they were right in God's eyes, His grand plan might include their defeat—that somehow it was part of a larger plan that they could not see. This evolved into the "Lost Cause" myth.
The South's drive to justify its actions in launching the great rebellion eventually took the form of what came to be called the myth of the "Lost Cause." As the tongues, pens and soon enough, typewriters of myriad Lost Cause advocates told the story in the decades after the Civil War, the South had been right all along. god for His own mysterious reasons had chosen to allow it to go down fighting nobly for eternal truths, but then had not God's own sinless and pure Son suffered and died at the hands of evil men in order to fulfill God's plan? Now the South by it suffering had been transformed into an even more pure and noble society...this, of course was nonsense, but it still resonates in much writing on the Civil War and the Old South. p. 289-290.
An example of this type of writing can be found in Stonewall Jackson's Verse by H. Rondel Rumburg published in 1993 by the Society for Biblical and Southern Studies. I won't review that here, but suffice it say that in its pages the "Lost Cause" lives and breathes. In the he final chapter, subtitled, "The Soldier's Religion and the Impact of the Civil War," the author comes to an unusual conclusion, given all that has been written about how much the Civil War changed our society:
Indeed, one of the most remarkable aspects of the Civil War may be how little it changed, rather than how much... contrary to the musing of exuberant Northern liberals and the bitter fulminations of Southern agrarians, the conflict was no the beginning and triumph of a new age in which the American political landscape was swept clear of fixed values and eternal verities. Rather, it was the culmination of an old vital and vigorous worldview, the completion of the original American vision of a society ordered according to divine principles. It was more the working out of the thought of John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, and Jonathan Edwards that it was the harbinger of the ideas of William James, Lester Frank Ward, or Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ... Culture and society in North and South changed relatively little—far less than ambitious Northern politicians thought the power of government could achieve during the Reconstruction period. Real change in culture and society comes only with the change of people's most fundamental beliefs... in the religious world of the Civil War soldiers, and that of the families to which they returned when the war was done, nothing fundamental had changed. p.292-293
The author, keep in mind, is speaking of the "religious world of Civil War soldiers," when he asserts that little changed. Certainly the Civil War changed us forever. Shelby Foote, noted author the three volume The Civil War: A Narrative, noted in a segment of the Ken Burn's film that the before the Civil War the nation was referred to as "the United States are..." and after the war as "the United States is...." I like that.(less)
Edgar Rice Burroughs did not think of this work as literature, but more as entertainment, or escapism. I think you have to read it that way in order t...moreEdgar Rice Burroughs did not think of this work as literature, but more as entertainment, or escapism. I think you have to read it that way in order to enjoy it. It's is full of statements that in today's culture seem quaint at best, racist at worst. But like Huck Finn before him, Tarzan is a product of his time. That Burroughs believed in the superiority of the white race was not uncommon in that day—it was probably the norm.
I think that the continued appeal of Tarzan is twofold: 1) Like Huck Finn, Tarzan blazes his own trail & is a friend to the down-trodden, and 2) Like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett,, Hawkeye, and even Superman, Tarzan is a hero who fully embodies all that Western culture wants in its men.
That the book was written with a sequel in mind is of no doubt to me. It ends abruptly and "unfinished." The pace of the book is fast, slow & fast. The pages fly by at the beginning, but it sort of drags in the middle, until the Europeans show up.
I have a soft spot for Tarzan. In the fourth grade I was in the slow readers class. I stumbled on the Ballentine series of Tarzan books and my friend and I read our way out of that class. Between us we probably had 12 of the 24 books & traded them back & forth. Great reading & fun!
Among my favorites, besides the original volume are: "Tarzan & the Lost Empire," "Tarzan the Untamed," "Tarzan & the Golden Lion," and "Tarzan & the Jewels of Opar."(less)
Like other books in this series (The American Presidents) this is not an in depth look at Chester Arthur. Even so, I go enough of the man to come away...moreLike other books in this series (The American Presidents) this is not an in depth look at Chester Arthur. Even so, I go enough of the man to come away feeling, as the author states, that "Arthur managed to be a decent man and a decent president in an era when decency was in short supply."
Chester Alan Arthur "was an unexpected president during a time when no one expected much from the presidency, and in an age of low expectations he was more than satisfactory." Chester Arthur, it seems to me after readying this book and learning some of him in Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln (Jason Emerson) was more of a manager than a leader. Arthur was "able to transcend partisan politics more than others and...is certainly among the most honorable chief executives the country has seen." I believe that if Robert Lincoln had given into the pressure to become president, he would have been a president much like Chester Arthur—however, due to his family name, he would have been held in much higher esteem than Arthur.
Arthur came to the office because he was selected to be on the ticket with James Garfield, to balance the ticket. Not an unusual thing to happen. Garfield & Arthur won by less than one-tenth of a percent, but the electoral vote was not so close—214 to 155. "The message was clear: the country ins 1880, as in 1876 and again in 1884, was sharply and evenly divided, and the divisions were geographic." Hmm, sound familiar? The author, Zachary Karabell, even comments on our times, saying "Though many have lamented the division between 'red states' and 'blue states' in the elections at the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, the electoral map was just as starkly delineated in the 1870s and 1880s. In fact, the only real battlegrounds were New York and Indiana...yet...did not lead to cries of concern about the viability of the republic or the health of democracy."
In a time when partisan politics is reigning supreme, it seems to me, that we could use a Chester Alan Arthur, who "tried to serve the general good rather than the interests of his faction."(less)