October 17, 2012, 12:06 am
The last lines of Shiloh by Charles Allen:
The birds are singing today,
Where wounded and dying men
Once laid and breathed their life away,
A quiet peace with music now and then.
The cornfield this past weekend, a month after sesquicentennial celebrations, was mostly silent, too.
October 10, 2012, 9:17 pm
I’m teaching a Cornell Adult University course this week on the Battle of Antietam. The course starts tomorrow, but I scouted various parts of the battlefield today, to check them out and refresh my memory. I took photographs to share (warning! Large file sizes!).
The War Correspondent’s Arch, at Gathland State Park, where the Battle of Crampton’s Gap took place. It’s a fascinating spot, deep in Maryland’s back woods, up in mountains, but intersecting with the Appalachian Trail. Bill van Gilder, a local potter, who lives near by, told me of sending messages to friends who live near the Trail in North Carolina, via hikers who come through the area. Turnaround time? About three months.
After Gathland, I moved on to the Antietam battlefield, starting with Burnside’s Bridge. I tried the exciting new panorama feature in my iPhone and got this of Burnside’s Bridge and its…
October 5, 2012, 12:14 am
August 21, 2012, 11:41 pm
Tim Burke pithily summarizes Niall Ferguson at the end of a post:
I don’t have to regard Ferguson as a professional by the standards of any of my worlds, as a person entitled to say that he’s inside any of those sets [scholar, intellectual, expert], . He’s left for other climes, and they’re welcome to him.
Worth reading the whole thing.
(FYI, “Gentleman Reading Mail, Part II,” originally scheduled for Monday, has been shifted to Wednesday. My apologies: SOS (start of school))
August 17, 2012, 11:58 pm
Grover Norquist on Paul Ryan:
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist says that although he didn’t want Paul Ryan to be the GOP vice presidential nominee at first, he is now pleased with the pick and predicts that he will do for domestic policy what Dick Cheney did for national security.
Sometimes, the jokes are just too easy.
August 17, 2012, 5:04 pm
Or, at least, his publishing arm:
David Barton, author of The Jefferson Lies, which Thomas Nelson pulled from shelves last week, is in negotiations to publish a new edition of the book with Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing arm
Whew. America will not have to go a day without access to the book that HNN commenters voted the “The Least Credible History Book In Print.” This blog has already made its feelings known.
August 16, 2012, 5:07 pm
As a followup to “One Too Many,” reports came today that a record number of soldiers, sailors, and marines killed themselves in July:
A record number of soldiers – 38 – are suspected of killing themselves in July, the Pentagon said Thursday. It marks a startling jump in the suicide epidemic that has been frustrating Army leaders for years….The toll was 58% higher than June’s 24 suspected suicides, and is roughly 50% more than the average monthly suicide count experienced over the past 18 months.
That’s just slightly fewer American service members than died in Afghanistan in July.
August 15, 2012, 3:00 pm
A quick post to highlight a remarkably valuable new report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Forum did a massive survey of the world’s Muslims:
The survey, which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages, finds that in addition to the widespread conviction that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, large percentages of Muslims around the world share other articles of faith, including belief in angels, heaven, hell and fate (or predestination). While there is broad agreement on the core tenets of Islam, however, Muslims across the 39 countries and territories surveyed differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements.
Well worth a look.
August 14, 2012, 9:33 pm
Christopher Frueh and Jeffrey Smith recently attempted to estimate the military suicide rate during the American Civil War. (sub required, sorry! See here for a shorter version that doesn’t require a sub) They did this, in part, because the current military suicide rate has been going up rapidly during the last decade of constant war, and there is little historical data to which to compare it:
Suicide rates and post-traumatic psychopathology among U.S. military personnel have risen dramatically since 2001. We have little understanding of historical context to indicate whether this is a typical outcome of war, apart from Durkheim’s (1951) conclusion from 1897 that suicide rates tend to decline during the active phases of war. Data gathered by the U.S. Government during the Civil War provide a conservative estimated suicide rate among active-duty Union Forces of 8.74–14.54 per 100,000…
August 12, 2012, 6:31 pm
In response to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s speech to restore business confidence in the teeth of a recession:
Every time that God-damned fool announces a balanced budget, it means that Government purchasing power is being cut and that’s about the only thing that’s keeping things together. The trouble is, the President won’t spend any money. Nobody on the outside will believe the trouble we have with him. Yet they call him a big spender. It makes me laugh.
Pari passu and all that, but plus ça change; see Krugman and Yglesias, in those and other places.
August 6, 2012, 4:49 pm
Sir John Keegan has died, aged 78. With his book, The Face of Battle, Keegan was the pioneer of a new form of military history, somewhat uncreatively called the “New Military History.” This looked at the ground level of war, focusing on the experience of soldiers in three battles, Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. It contrasted explicitly with the more traditional form of military history, which looked at the leaders and generals and institutions fighting the wars. Tommy Atkins replaced Arthur Wellesley.
This is not to say that there hadn’t been books that looked at the experience of the ordinary combatant before, but Keegan did it as a self-conscious distinction from the technical and (often) emotionless accounts of military history, which took all human feeling out:
One school of historians…[Keegan noted], the compilers of the British Official History of the First World War,…
July 18, 2012, 5:14 am
My usual short bike ride in San Francisco — about 25 minutes starting from my home near Dolores Park — is to head northwest via the Wiggle to Golden Gate Park, on to the Concourse between the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, and loop back home. Along the way, there’s a series of monuments which I read as an index of our civic preoccupations from, say, the last quarter of the 19th century, into the first quarter of the 20th.
At the gateway to the gateway to the park, so to speak, the east end of the Panhandle, a robed bronze figure, massive but reserved in her grief, holds up a palm branch in memory of President McKinley.
Just inside the park proper, on the right, McLaren Lodge, headquarters of SF Park and Rec, remembers John McLaren, father of the park. It’s a heavy Romanesque affair in tan stone — I believe there’s a meeting room inside…
July 11, 2012, 6:01 pm
James Fallows lives in DC and has thus been ground zero for two substantial power outages in the last year. First, for Hurricane Irene, and then for last week’s derecho. He wonders why the power grid is so fragile:
How can it be that in the imperial-capital city of the richest nation the world has ever seen, people are told that it will probably be a full week* before electric power is restored?
Fallows connects it to America’s imperial decline. If we can’t keep the lights on in DC, how can we be a great power?
While the argument seems compelling, the historical record shows almost exactly the opposite. Imperial cities at the height of their power regularly have disastrous infrastructures, brittle and messy. Rome is justly famed for its sewer system, but never had any useful garbage collection, with the result that even during the widest expanse of Empire, people would simply…
July 6, 2012, 11:59 pm
An old one, but still funny:
Q: Do I have to kill the snake?
A: University guidelines state that you have to “defeat” the snake. There are many ways to accomplish this. Lots of students choose to wrestle the snake. Some construct decoys and elaborate traps to confuse and then ensnare the snake. One student brought a flute and played a song to lull the snake to sleep. Then he threw the snake out a window.
Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?