logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: history-american
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-26 02:27
The changing meaning of the American Revolution
A Season of Youth: The American Revolution and the Historical Imagination - Michael Kammen

When the musical Hamilton premiered in 2015, it was hailed as a bold reimagining of the events surrounding the founding of the United States. What most audience members probably didn’t appreciate, though, was that it was only the latest in a long line of reimagined interpretations of the events of American independence. Those who did likely benefited from reading Michael Kammen’s book on the subject. In the first of a trilogy of studies he wrote on various aspects of the American historical imagination, Kammen recounts the evolving ways in which Americans remembered their revolution and what these changes reveal regarding the nation’s attitudes about its legacy for them.

 

Kammen begins by considering what he terms “the problem of tradition,” that problem being the absence of one throughout much of America’s existence. To outside observers living within the well-worn grooves of generations of traditions, Americans seemed to lack one. Though this would change, that change was gradual, and initially it was focused on the first defining event in the new country’s history. Though a natural choice it was not a conscious one, as Americans grappled with their revolutionary origins only as they began to slip away from them.

 

Kammen divides this process into stages. The first of these began with the Revolution itself, as its participants argued over the meaning of what they were doing. George Washington’s death in 1799 foreshadowed the passing of the “founding fathers,” and with them any firsthand verification of their intentions and goals. Though the last of the signers of the Declaration of Independence wouldn’t pass for another third of a century, Americans began to reflect more on their achievements and their legacy. The celebration of the Fourth of July was an integral part of this, but it evolved in the 1790s into a partisan tradition which persisted until the demise of the Federalist Party after 1815 ended their conflict over what the Revolution achieved.

 

By the 1830s, there was a general reverence for the Revolutionary generation and a common desire to maintain what their sacrifices had earned. Exactly what it was that they had earned, however, remained a subject of dispute. The burgeoning sectional crisis increasingly infected this debate, as again warring sides played up different aspects of the Revolution to suit their vision for the country. By the mid-1870s, the ebbing of this conflict led people to find within the Revolution a common point of unity, with considerations of its political meaning dropped in favor of celebrations of a hazy nationalism. This ebbed and flowed over the course of the twentieth century, with the scholarly consideration of the Revolution’s place in American tradition increasingly distant from popular (and apolitical) consideration of the Fourth July as little more than a national birthday.

 

Kammen recounts the developing place of the American Revolution in a series of chapters considering its presence in art, poetry, and fiction. These are presented separately by subject, making the book less of a sustained narrative than an interconnected collection of essays that can be read separately. On nearly every page he offers an intriguing detail or a perceptive analysis that reflects both his immersion in this legacy and his thoughtful consideration of it. Though some of his conclusions may seen dated with the passage of time, his book still rewards reading for its account of the development of American nationalism and how this was reflected in the nation’s culture over the first two centuries of its existence.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-22 16:46
THE MERCY OF THE TIDE by Keith Rosson, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Mercy of the Tide - Keith Rosson

Set in the Pacific Northwest in the early 80's, THE MERCY OF THE TIDE brought home a robust sense of time and place.

 

In a small Oregon town, tragedy strikes in the form of a drunk driver. In towns like this, with an event like this, nearly everyone is affected as the ramifications ripple outward. Then, other things start happening. Dead, mutilated birds appear on people's doorsteps. A skeleton is found in a local park. One deputy thinks he knows what's happening: it's related to an old native American legend. Can the goings-on in town be attributed to the legend, or are they attributable to humanity? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I very much related to the characters in this book. There's one named Toad, (a nickname for Todd), and I knew a Toad when I was growing up, which was about the same time period as in this book. I also remember being afraid of the Russians and nuclear war. There's a young girl in this book who is obsessed with nuclear annihilation. The music mentioned: Motorhead, The Ramones, and others-they formed the soundtrack of my teen years. I remember Ronald Reagan being shot as well-so all these things were perfectly drawn as far as I'm concerned.

 

The writing here was very good, especially the character development. The powerful themes of guilt and grief abound, and the reader cannot help but feel for these people. However, I did have a few issues. I can't get too deeply into what those issues were because SPOILERS, but I can say I felt let down regarding the native American legend portion. I wanted more! I thought the denouement was perfect though-it shocked the hell out of me, but it also made me so mad I'm gritting my teeth just thinking about it.

 

Overall, I was impressed with this author and the book. The narration was excellent, as I've come to learn-Joshua Saxon's work always is. I recommend this book-especially to those readers who came of age during this time period in American history. If you're like me, you will feel the powerful rise of fond nostalgia.

 

 

*I received an audio version from Meerkat Press in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
url 2020-07-01 15:53
Podcast #188 is up!
Horace Greeley: Print, Politics, and the Failure of American Nationhood - James M. Lundberg

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Jake Lundberg about his biography of the American newspaper editor and presidential candidate Horace Greeley. Enjoy!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-06-20 20:32
A useful narrative that misses the greater significance
The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia - Wilcomb E. Washburn

In the summer of 1677, a group of English colonists rose up against the colonial government of Virginia. Led by Nathaniel Bacon, a plantation owner who had moved to the colony just a few years previously, the rebels intimidated the government leadership into passing laws that restored suffrage rights to landless freemen and empowered Bacon with military command. When the longtime governor, William Berkeley, sought to reassert control, Bacon's forces marched on the colonial capital of Jamestown, burning it down after a short siege. With Bacon's death from dysentery, however, the rebellion soon collapsed, as Berkeley reasserted his authority and meted out punishment of the remaining rebel leaders.

 

Bacon's Rebellion is one of the most famous events in American colonial history, and was long held up as a precursor to the American Revolution a century later. Yet as Wilcomb Washburn explains at the start of his book, such an interpretation ignores the role that relations with the Native Americans played in sparking events. His book, which originated as Washburn's Harvard University doctoral dissertation, draws from the documentary record of the era to chart the development of the rebellion in an effort to explain its origins and how it came to be interpreted by contemporaries in the aftermath of its suppression. In a series of compact chapters, he recounts the events of the rebellion, starting with the growing tensions between the colonists and the Native Americans in the Potomac River valley, which was then undergoing settlement. Though the settlers wanted an aggressive response to the natives' attacks, Governor Berkeley sought a more defensive approach that would be less expensive than a military campaign. Into this vacuum stepped Bacon, who championed the setters' cause in the face of official indifference to their interests. Washburn sees Bacon as driven by ego and vanity, with Berkeley an underappreciated figure who managed events as well as he could given the circumstances against him. Recalled to England after the rebellion's end, Berkeley's death soon after his return denied him the opportunity to respond to the charges leveled against him, which left his reputation tarnished for generations afterward.

 

Washburn's book offers readers a extremely useful account of Bacon's Rebellion that details nicely the events immediately surrounding it. By examining both the role tensions with the local natives played in events and the goals pursued by Bacon and the other rebels, he succeeds in refuting the interpretation of the rebellion as an early democratic reform movement. Yet Washburn's focus is frustratingly narrow, as he both skirts the question of why relations with natives were at such a boiling point and fails to consider the long-term impact of the rebellion on the region. As historians such as Edmund S. Morgan would later explain, the growing unavailability of land for newly-freed indentured servants was a key factor in the deterioration of colonial policy towards the Native Americans, with one of the most important legacies of the rebellion being a greater reliance instead on slavery for plantation labor. That Washburn never addresses these issues limits the utility of his book, which provides a good description of the events of the rebellion while missing its greater significance for American history.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-06-01 16:18
Reading Wrap Up: Stay at Home Edition March, April, May 2020
The Final Days - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward
War on Peace - Ronan Farrow
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth - Sarah Smarsh
Pox: An American History - Michael Willrich
Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War - David A. Nichols
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
Golden in Death - J.D. Robb
The Girls of Mischief Bay - Susan Mallery

So here is my reading wrap up for March, April, and May. 

 

March

1. Golden in Death (In Death #50) by JD Robb - 4 stars

2. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera - 3.5 stars

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 2.5 stars

 

April

1. Pox: An American History by Michael Willrich - 4.5 stars

2. A Distant Melody (Wings of Glory #1) by Sarah Sundin - 3 stars

3. The Scandalous Suffragette by Eliza Redgold - 3 stars

4. The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein - 5 stars

5. Beauty Queens by Libby Bray - 4 stars

6. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby - 4 stars

 

May

1. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty - 1 star

2. Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis - Suez and the Brink of War by David A. Nichols - 4 stars

3. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow - 5 stars

4. Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters by Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles - DNF

5. Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine - 1 star

6. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh - 4.5 stars

7. The Dead & the Gone (Last Survivors #2) by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 3 stars

8. 1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal - 3 stars

9. The Girls of Mischief Bay (Mischief Bay #1) by Susan Mallery - 4 stars

10. A New Life (West Meets East #1) by Merry Farmer - 2.5 stars

 

Goals and Challenges:

GoodReads: 40/125 (32%)

Library Love: 17/24 (70%) - I am thinking of moving up my goal to the next level

 

Participated in BoB28

Participated BL's Snakes & Ladders 2020

Participated in Dewey RAT

Participated in 24 in 48 Stay at Home RAT

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?