I liked this one a lot. I'm still figuring out what I think about good ways to teach and learn history, but one of the things I firmly believe in is t...moreI liked this one a lot. I'm still figuring out what I think about good ways to teach and learn history, but one of the things I firmly believe in is that primary sources - material (usually written, but can be audio or visual) from the time being studied - are crucial. You have to look at those if you really want to understand whatever it is that you're studying.
And this book does just that. She cites the letters from rank and file soldiers to support her thesis, which is that such soldiers believed that slavery was the crux of the conflict between the North and South. If you've ever wondered about the attitudes people of the Civil War era held about race, then you should read this book. It also discusses the general sociocultural differences between the North and South.
It's extensively endnoted, which I approve of. (A purportedly historical book which is not properly annotated is nearly useless, in my opinion. It makes it difficult for others to easily verify your sources, and can raise questions about your academic honesty.) It's not as long as it might seem, as the last 125 or so pages are endnotes and the index; however, it's long enough to be a reasonably developed treatment of the subject. The one thing I thought it was really missing was a timeline of important events during the Civil War, and that's a fairly minor omission.
Comments about the data system she used when writing the book, mostly for my own interest: "For every soldier whose writings I read, and for whom I could obtain sufficient biographical detail, I created a data sheet that recorded such information as birth date, home occupation, marital status, regiment, rank, battle participation, and experiences such as capture, wounding, or death. These 477 Confederate soldier data sheets and 657 Union soldier data sheets helped place soldiers' words in appropriate social and demographic contest, and also helped ensure that my cross section of soldiers resembled the actual makeup of the enlisted ranks as closely as possible. In addition, I drew on the letters and diaries of hundreds of additional recruits from whom biographical information was too scanty to compile, and on letters written by soldiers to newspapers."
Oh, and she deliberately didn't modernize the language in the letters. Which is something else I'm all for.(less)
The Jamestown Project feels like two loosely connected essays melded into one book. The deep background about matters such as European colonization ve...moreThe Jamestown Project feels like two loosely connected essays melded into one book. The deep background about matters such as European colonization ventures and Europeans who had "taken the turban" - renounced European ways and essentially taken up life in Muslim cultures - was interesting to me but would probably not be to the average person who picked up the book expecting a history of Jamestown and its founding. Approximately half the book addresses Jamestown; the other half deals with deep background and the life of well-known but frequently misunderstood individuals such as John Smith and Rebecca Rolfe, aka Pocahontas/Mataoka.
Someone expecting a pure, popularly accessible history of Jamestown may be disappointed with this book; however, if you have an interest in colonial history and the interaction of European (mostly English) and Muslim cultures (mostly Turkey) in the 16th and early 17th C., you might be interested in this one. Also if you're interested in human interaction with the environment in early America, and how the English settlers interacted with the Indians who were already there when they arrived, you might find this one to be worthwhile. (The author's main point with regard to this latter area is that initially, the power dynamics might not be what you'd expect.)
This incorporates and refers to various written documents from the late 16th and early 17th C. which I'd love to follow up on ... except for now I need to take this book back to the library, so I'll have to do it later. (One of these was Sidney's Defence of Poesie, which is also quoted in the second essay in No Island Is an Island.) On a scale of 5 I'd say it's a 3.5.(less)
Now that the school year has started, I've decided that I don't have time for books that don't fully cite their sources. This guy seems to have taken...moreNow that the school year has started, I've decided that I don't have time for books that don't fully cite their sources. This guy seems to have taken the "I'm only going to cite direct quotations" approach. As someone who is reading because of historical interest ... well, let's just say that my opinion is that if you don't cite ALL your sources, then your (non-fiction) work is useless. The incomplete citations plus the overly dramatic tone had me deciding within two pages that I wasn't going to bother reading this thing. (There's an excerpt linked from the Search Inside This Book link on the Amazon page, if you want to see what I'm talking about.)(less)
an easily readable book about the Japanese-American experience in World War II, based mostly on interviews conducted by the author. There is a fair am...morean easily readable book about the Japanese-American experience in World War II, based mostly on interviews conducted by the author. There is a fair amount of valorizing in this book, but that's not exactly unexpected. I was disappointed that the book mentioned but didn't devote a chapter to the experiences of Japanese-American women who volunteered as nurses and translators after the Japanese surrender.(less)
This was an interesting (and sad at times, of course) discussion of an obscure aspect of World War II. There were times where the author imposed his p...moreThis was an interesting (and sad at times, of course) discussion of an obscure aspect of World War II. There were times where the author imposed his perspectives excessively, but all in all it was a good look at the events and people involved.(less)