anti-Catholicism was quite the national pastime in antebellum America and here's a great book that demonstrates how and why that prevalent attitude sl...moreanti-Catholicism was quite the national pastime in antebellum America and here's a great book that demonstrates how and why that prevalent attitude slowly began turning around in the 19th century.
here is a book full of real heroes; nurses, student soldiers, and clergy who rendered aid to a country that didn't want them; helping to alleviate prejudices through their dedication and service. there are some great portraits throughout and excellent details not only of those who left Notre Dame to assist in the fields, but also those who remained at the college. it was especially interesting to read about the aftermath of the war.
a great overview of an underwritten subject, with numerous interesting anecdotes and quotes from primary source documents. one description of a general absolution before battle at Gettysburg was especially affecting.
also a nice starting place for those interested in reading more about general w. t. sherman, whose Catholic wife insisted on raising their many children in the faith (and whose son Tom eventually entered the priesthood despite his father's objections).
excellent photos and notes round this book out very well. as with schmidt's other book (Lincoln's Labels), i only wish it could have been longer!(less)
This is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough co...moreThis is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough context, background, or notes, here's a book that I actually wish had included more lists and minutiae. The focus here is on a few American brands that have been around forever (Du Pont, Tiffany, Brooks Brothers, Squibb, Borden, Scientific American, American Express). A single chapter is dedicated to each "brand" and a brief history of the product is provided with some context on its impact during the war and subsequent evolution over the next 150 years. While they are all interesting, it felt like a mixed bag to me and I longed to know more about other brands in vogue that didn't weather the century. But that was not Schmidt's intent, so I can't fault the book for my expectations. Nonetheless, I feel I can quibble with the fact that this feels more like an introduction to a subject on which a great deal more could be written. Great footnotes, a nice collection of essays overall, but I could have used a little more meat with my potatoes. (less)
is it schadenfreude to really love a book like this? there's something so amusing about reading of men in positions we consider so elevated brought to...moreis it schadenfreude to really love a book like this? there's something so amusing about reading of men in positions we consider so elevated brought to the lowest of lows: on charges of trotting prostitutes around, disgusting drunken displays, patient cruelty, and other derelictions of duty so blatant during a time when you think they might have been a little more focused on the epidemic proportions of their duties during the war.
but those epidemic proportions are no doubt what caused many a medical man to go astray, and Lowry doesn't glorify in the sordid details (except where quoting charges, accusations, and testimony). handling each case in relative fairness, Lowry posits plausible theories as to why some men so completely threw away their careers and reputations.
this book reads sorta like fifty mini-mysteries. presenting some alternate viewpoints and defenses, the medical staff being court-martialed proves equal parts grossly incompetent, politically attacked, sadly overwhelmed, and, in a few interesting cases, heroically vindicated. many of the stories will leave you wanting to know more, but unfortunately just as many have no further information to follow, with post-war records leaving little in the form of satisfactory denouement.
and, of course, there's plenty here for the ghouls: hair-raising descriptions of decapitations, mutilations, and more. enjoy!(less)
This book is a very (very) broad overview of the Dakota War in 1862. It's too broad to be especially useful for someone who wants a critical examinati...moreThis book is a very (very) broad overview of the Dakota War in 1862. It's too broad to be especially useful for someone who wants a critical examination of the causes and results, but a nice introduction for anyone without any foundation whatsoever.
For lots of pictures and a general time-line of events, this is great, but the writing is unfortunately dry for such a charged topic, and if you're already familiar with the basics, you'd spend your time more wisely reading something with more substance.(less)
The problem with this book isn't that for its 130 pages it's quite the dense, lumbering behemoth (reads more like a academic dissertation than anythin...moreThe problem with this book isn't that for its 130 pages it's quite the dense, lumbering behemoth (reads more like a academic dissertation than anything else). The problem is that it sets out with a thesis that it then cannot prove.
The narrative starts off really strong with a very good overview of the community of Shelton Laurel, but by the time it arrives at the killings, the ambiguities of guerrilla warfare have been presented in such a way as to render me undecided on what actually went down. People were killed. Probably without cause. But while I couldn't possibly condone summary executions on any level, one has to wonder at the fear and frustration (and utter incompetence) of those who ordered and carried out the killings. We see it time and time again: some small thing that sets off a chain of events more extreme than warranted. The maze of offenses and retaliations in this arena in particular are incredibly hard to untangle.
So there's a lot of new information here and that's fabulous, but the way in which it's presented left me feeling like the author meant to take a strong stance against the killings, but actually failed to make the point that this was a bona fide war crime.
A good springboard for further investigation, but between the heavy-handed and too-often discursive writing style, and the failure to effectively make its case, I was disappointed. (less)