Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: Stubby the War Dog

Stubby the War Dog: the True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog, by: Ann Bausum, National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2014.
This is a very interesting story of a man and his canine friend.  Stubby adopted R. Robert Conroy while he was dong basic training as a volunteer for the Army in WWI.  They were training at the athletic grounds at Yale University.  Stubby began to hand around the army trainees, particularly the kitchen staff, hoping for a bone or something to eat.  He was a mutt, but mostly of Boston Terrier extraction.  He befriended Conroy and they became best friends.  The dog trained along with the men.  He actually could sit on his haunches and salute, and he march and present right or left with the men.
However eventually, the army moved out headed to the war.  The left Stubby behind, but Stubby would have none of it and followed the men.  He hopped aboard the rail car on his own, and no one stopped him.  However to take him aboard the ship headed to Europe would be breaking rules.  Conroy hatched a plan to have a sympathetic crew member sneak him aboard.  The plan was successful, and after they were well on their way the brought him out of hiding and no one seem to mind.  The commanding officer spotted the animal, but Stubby won him over with a salute.
Thus Stubby became a war dog.  War is not safe.  Conroy had to fit an air mask for him.  On one occasion Stubby was wounded by shrapnel, and was evacuated as the wounded men.  Stubby of course healed form his wound.
Stubby performed many jobs, including being the mascot for his unit.  He would lie by the men as the slept, he helped the medics locate wounded, and at times would stay by a wounded man until the medics arrived, or until the man passed away, giving them some comfort in their final moments.  At times he and Conroy would help with delivering messages. 
Stubby had a knack for being able to distinguish Germans from Americans.  He is credited with capturing a German officer, who was perhaps a spy.  He took an Iron Cross from this officer which Conroy placed on his jacket over his rear end.  Stubby had a special jacket, which eventually included many medals and honors.  I don’t think any dog from the war was as decorated. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Documentary Review: Cropsey: The Truth is Terrifying

Cropsey: The Truth is Terrifying, A film form Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman, Vicious Circle Films, 2009.
Staten Island is portrayed in this documentary as a place where historically, all the trash from New York ends.  This includes physical as well as human trash.  In its time there were many state institutions on Staten Island, including mentally ill hospitals as well as hospital for the profoundly developmentally delayed.  At one point this lead to investigation of the conditions in the hospital and a big scandal.
 There is a long tradition of Cropsey, a local bogey man legend.  It is said Cropsey is a former mental patient who preys on the unsuspecting when they wander into the woods. 
Then the movie goes into telling the story of Andre Rand.  Rand is a former employer at one of these hospitals that was closed.  He is also a convicted child kidnapper and murderer.  He has been convicted in the disappearance of two children on Staten Island.  He is suspected in the disappearance of many more children.  These children are generally those who are easy victims, developmentally delayed or challenged in some other way. 
Rand has never divulged the location of any of his victims.  One of them was found.  Because of the lack of evidence, there are still many lost children from Staten Island.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, by: James Oakes, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2013. 
This is a fascinating book about the progression towards the liberation of the slaves.  The basic story we have is that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after the Union achieved a victory of sorts at  Antietam, and then the slaves were free.  Lincoln went on to get the thirteenth amendment through congress, which was eventually accepted by the states.  Some of the former Confederate States accepted it as it was now the law of the land, or less than full hardy, but in the end, slavery was no more. 
However, the truth is that the emancipation of the slaves was a gradual process. Without the secession of the Southern States, it probably would have taken much longer, but the war gave the government, and Abraham Lincoln and the Republican party a reason to emancipate the slaves.  First, slaves escaped to the Union lines, and eventual the policy became, the army would not return slaves would could be conscripted to help the Southern cause, but would be employed to help the North.  Also of immediate import was the ending of the Fugitive Slave Act with regards to those states that had seceded.  The agreement was no longer binding with those states who were no longer under the Constitution. 
The policy as such lead to people to self emancipate, but running to the army, or by running to free states.  When the Union invaded Louisiana, this again lead to slaves running to Union lines. 
Federal policy progressed slowly.  Next is was slaves from seceded states who were no longer returned, rather than just those whose masters fought for the rebel cause or used the slaves for the rebel cause.  The emancipation proclamation was President Lincoln taking advantage of the powers given him by the war powers Act which basically asked for a proclamation. 
The Emancipation Proclamation did two things, emancipated those slaves in Union controlled territory from seceded states.  It also allowed for former slaves to fight for the army, which had not been done to this point, January 1, 1835. over 180,000 would fight for the Union.  At the end of the war the accounted for 20 percent of the soldiers in arms.
However, this proclamation wasn’t enough.  Slaves in border states still loyal to the Union were not freed.  It was hoped these states would abolish slavery on their own, but this was not happening and when it did happen, the process was slow.  Louisiana and West Virginia were progressing to abolish slavery, and other states were coming along like Missouri; however Kentucky and Delaware were having none of it. 
A broader approach was needed.  This was found in an amendment to the Constitution—which was rare to this point in time.  In fact, the first attempt failed in the congress.  However, after the election, but before the new congressmen came into office (the election had been a Republican success and passage was assured after the new congress was sworn in.)  However they wanted passage as soon as possible, and before the end of the war, which may change people’s ideas about the need for the amendment. 
The Democratic argument against emancipation was two-fold, the government should not interfere with property rights; property in men in this case.  The second was the racist argument, the freed slaves were inferior and would be a burden upon themselves and other people without masters to care for them.  On the other hand, the Republicans argued that there was no such thing as property in people, or shouldn’t be.  They also argued that free people would find a way to contribute to society. 
For everyone’s benefit, the Republicans prevailed and Freedom was the law, all across the land.  At this time, equal rights should have been the next step.  However, after Lincoln was killed, this step was not taken, and our nation still wallowed in racial segregation and lack of voting and other basic rights for many years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Review: Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War

Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Iron-Clads, High-Powered Weapons and More to Win the Civil War, by Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2009.
This book is more than just a talk of the weapons used in the war, although it does provide some of that information.  It is also a description of some of the action in the war.  For example, it has a very good description of the first armored naval battle, between the Monitor and the Merrimack or CSS Virginia.  The Virginia had her day against the Union wooden fleet the first day, but because she had a heavy draw, low-tide was her enemy and she had to withdraw.  The Captain and crew expected to return the next day and finish a job on the wood ships, after sinking one and damaging a couple more the previous day.  However, a new ship, a raft with a barrel on top, met them the next day, in defense of the wooden vessels.   This was the Monitor, with the first turreted gun in history.  The battle proved a draw, with both sides trying to ram the others, and causing some damage to the iron sheeting.  However, again the Virginia had to withdraw because of the tide, and nothing was resolved; except the Union fleet was now safe.  Neither of these vessels was very sea worthy, and their predecessors would be better vessels.  They did usher in a new age of sea warfare. 
Other chapters of interest; balloon reconnaissance should have been more successful than it was.  However, McClellan always but more faith in his detectives than the information from the balloons, and they soon fell out of favor. 
Advances in rifles gave the union a big advantage.  Breech loading weapons could shoot more rapidly with the same accuracy.  Rifling made traditional warfare obsolete, as generals discovered early in the war, with excessive casualties. 
Other technology includes advances in canon, use of rail and telegraph. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Celebrating Halloween

Celebrating Halloween by: Wendy Mass, Enslow Publishers Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, 2006.
This is a very complete book about the history of Halloween, in fact it may be a little too complete.  It does bring in a lot of different celebrations, similar to Halloween and making memorial of the deceased into the discussion.  It also talks about the period of vandalism which accompanied Halloween before Halloween turned more to a party and trick or treating like today.   Many different celebration have come to mark Halloween, including Druid influence, Roman influence, Catholic and Church of England influences.  The story of Jack who was abandoned between heaven and hell, the story of Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up parliament, the significance of bonfires and pumpkins.  This book talks about the part mischief making played, as well as the part of costumes.  This started as an attempt to make yourself look like a spirit so the spirits wouldn’t bother you.  It has also been influenced by masquerades, and more recently people have costumes of their favorite character. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Halloween

Halloween: A True Book by Dana Meachen Rau, Children's Press, NY, 2001.
This book mostly goes over some of the same stuff, but I think I understand more about the name "Jack" as related to Halloween.  This book is good at pointing out the progression.  The Celts, who lived a 2500 -2000 years ago and inhabited much of Europe, had October 31 as the last day of the year.  They believed it was the day spirits could come back o life==both bad and good spirits.  They would trick the spirits by dousing their fire at home.  The would big a large communal bonfire.  They would wear masks to trick thee spirits into thinking they were also spirits.  In the morning, everyone would take some embers to restart the fire in their home.
The Romans entered the mix when they conquered the Celts.  They had a holiday at about the same time of year which honored the goddess of fruit.  They would eat nuts and fruits.  The game of apple bobbing comes from the Romans.
The Catholic Church also had an influence.  They tried to do away with the holiday, and where unsuccessful.  They combined it with all Saints day followed by All Souls day.  Latin culture honors their dead with day of the dea, where they take cakes to their deceased relations. 
Finally the Irish give us the Jack o' lantern.  Jack was a cunning man, but also not a good man.  WHen the Devil came for him, he tricked the devil.  When he eventually died, he couldn't go to heave.  He wasn't a good man.  The devil would not have him either.  So he was left to wander.  They devil did give him a charcoal for his lantern, which he made from a hallow turnip.  Today we hallow pumpkin which work better than turnips. 

Movie Review: Death Valley

Death Valley: National Geographic: National Parks Collection
I wanted to get some incredible views of Death Valley.  Instead I got a global warming lesson.  What would happen if Death Valley rose two degrees.  Its species of plants are already on the brink of endurance.   When will we ever learn?  This lesson was reiterated in talking of sand dunes, plants and the Devil's Hole Pup Fish, which lives in the aquifer underneath the dessert. 
Some cool things shown, crystals in caves, the exploration of the aquifer, the moaning sand dunes.  Apparently sound waves get trapped in the upper level of sand, and is echoed and reverberated.  It was pretty cool.  The sand dunes also move and change location. 
Information about scorpions.  I didn't realize some are cold blooded and some hot blooded.  Change in temperature may change the balance. 
This movie seemed to be an agrandizement of scientist, who are better than the rest of us who don't care about global warming.  If the National Geographic series is all like this, I will have to leave them on the shelf.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: Horrible Hauntings

Horrible Hauntings by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by William Maughan, Goosebottom Books, Foster City, CA., 2012.
This is basically a ghost story book.  It is interesting to read about ghosts, many of whom were prominent people.  These include Abraham Lincoln.  He has haunted the White House, and among those who have seen him are Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who fainted; and Winston Churchill while dressing who responded, “You have me at a disadvantage, Sir!”
Prince Edward and his younger brother, who were killed by their uncle King Richard.  (Actually Edward was the king, but deemed too young to rule, and Richard was ruling in his stead, and didn’t want to relinquish the throne.  They haunt the Tower of London.
Whalley Abbey is haunted by a whole abbey of priests, with their Abbot Paslew who was executed for treason.  They haunt the old abandoned abbey.
There are several different headless horsemen.  Of course the most famous is he of Sleepy Hollow, he did away with Ichabod Crane with the use of his pumpkin head.  There are several others, someof whom carry their head under their arm.
Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII haunts the gallery of Hamptom Palace.  She met the same fate as her cousin Anne Boleyn, who was the King’s second wife.  Being a wife of King Henry the VIII must have been risky business.  In her haunt she is seeking the King, who denies her.  She was taken to the tower and then met her fate on the chopping block.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Pocahontas: A Life in Two Worlds

Pocahontas: A Life in Two Worlds by Victoria Garret Jones, Sterling Publishing, New York, 2010.
This is a fascinating book telling the life of Pocahontas, but also the history of Jamestown, Captain John Smith and well as her father Powhatan and his people.  The relationship between the Native Americans and the people at Jamestown varies from year to year.  It is very likely the settlement would not have taken hold without the help of the Native Americans.  However there were times when they were at open war. 
Pocahontas befriended John Smith and the people at Jamestown.  She intervened on several occasions in their behalf, saving John Smith’s life at least a couple of times.  She once saved his head from being bashed in, and another time warned him and his men of Powhatan’s intent to kill them so they could escape.  Even so, John Smith was made an adoptive son, and adoptive brother of Pocahontas.  However, he returned to England after being badly burned by gun powder.  For her part, Pocahontas thought he had been killed.
Pocahontas was tricked and taken hostage.  This was to manipulate her father into trading with the Jamestown settlers, as they relied on food from the American Indians.  During this time, Pocahontas converted to Christianity.  However, if she had her gull choice, one has to wonder if she would have converted.  She married John Rolfe.  With him she traveled to England, and was honored as a princess. 
However, the moist weather wasn’t good for her health.  They decided to return, but her health failed her.  They began their journey, but took to land in Gravesend because of the health of Pocahontas.  Here she would pass away.  Her son Thomas was also ill, but he would survive.  He would become a tobacco farmer like his father, using lands inherited form his grandfather Powhatan.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Escapers: Jan Baalsrud; Norway

This is a chapter in the book Incredible Journey by Readers Digest.  Jan Baalsrud was a member of a group of four men, who were of Norwegian descent.  They were places in Norway by the British in hopes of disrupting Nazi occupied Norway.  Instead, they were confronted upon landing, and all but Baalsrud were killed.  Baalsrud was able to escape up a draw in the snow away from the ocean, by killing a Nazi officer and wounding another man.  This was the start of a harrowing journey of escape, which endangered the lives of all those who helped him; but they still did help him. He was forced to swim from island to isand, until he came upon a situation where they could take him in.   He finally made the mainland.  He had been given a pair of skies to move more quickly.  His goal was to cross the Lyngen Alps.  However he was unsuccessful and was found delirious by Marius Gonnvold, who nursed him back to health.  He was placed in a hidden hut, which the nazis did not know of, to recuperate.  However a hut trapped him in the hut, without assistance for several days, and he almost died.  His goal was to make Sweden.  He had to cross a plain, and he set out with the promise of men meeting him.  However a bad storm trapped him.  He was placed behind a rock which provided some protection form the storm.  The men left him, thinking the men would come to get him.  However they did not come, they were delayed by the Nazis who were looking for Ballsrud.  he was buried in the snow.  All of his toes froze.  He did self amputations with his knife and brandy as anesthetic.  He was able to breath under the snow because it was fresh and not compacted.  Groonvold again found him where he had been left.  Baalsrud could not travel of his own accord.  He was placed in a sled and taken across the field to Sweden.  They had to cross a dangerous lake (ice not thick enough) as they were chased by Nazis.  They eventually made it to the men they were looking for who were to take him to Sweden as the migrated their herd of reindeer. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: Harriet Tubman: Hero of the Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman: Hero of the Underground Railroad, by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Frances Moore, Picture Window Books, Minneapolis, MN, 2007.
I enjoyed this brief history of Harriet Tubman in picture book format.  The artwork added something to the story as many of the illustrations had a fabric pattern.  Harriet Tubman did not have a good time as a slave.  She was taken from her mother.  She had to tend a baby, and was beaten if the baby cried.  She was disciplined for stealing sugar.  She did not prevent another man escaping, and her master through an iron at her, hitting her in the head.  This caused her to have headaches the rest of her life.
Tubman hated being a slave, and as a young woman, when she heard of intentions to sell her, she escaped.  Using referrals for the underground railroad she was able to make it to Philadelphia, free territory.  However. Tubman’s efforts did not stop there.  She made at least 19 trips back to slave territory, and brought about 300 people back with her in total.  She acted as a conductor for the underground railroad.  She helped her parents and other family members escape. 
With the commencement of the war, she still made trips to slave country, to serve as a nurse, and to help the Union effort as a spy.  She was able to conduct and direct an expedition to clear torpedo mines.  She knew where they were because of her spying efforts. 
Harriet Tubman was an interesting woman, who lived a long life.  When she passed away at age 93 she was buried with military honors, based on her service to many through the underground railroad and the Civil War. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Story of Halloween

The Story of Halloween by: Carol Greene, illustrated by: Linda Bronson, Harper Collins Publishers, 2004.
This book is a good historical review of where our Halloween traditions get their origin.  Halloween was the combination of several different holidays, from several different cultures.  The Celt tradition of October 31 being the last day of the year, when ghosts of those who had died in the past year, as well as elves and fairies and scary creatures roamed.  They would make big bonfires to scare the creatures away.  From this tradition we have a feeling of spooks in the night this day.  The Romans added their traditional day of honoring the goddess of fruits.  This is likely where we get the apple dunking tradition.  From Christians we get honoring all Saints day, and the day before being Halloween, or all Hallows Eve.  But Britain still held some of their believes in Spirits wondering the night.  SO they would still build bonfires and tell scary stories.  England also had a tradition of going door to door begging for soul-cakes, or a penny.  Some of those going around started the tradition of playing tricks, boarding up doors, or chimneys.  “The spirits did it.”  From Latin countries we get the honoring of the Day of the Dead.
From Ireland we got the first jack o’ lanterns, originally made of turnips or rutabagas and potatoes.  These were carved out with ugly faces.  When many of the Irish immigrated to the United States, they brought this tradition with them.  However, pumpkins were more readily available, and easier to carve, so became the fruit of choice. 
By the end of the 1800s, celebration of Halloween was firmly entrenched into our society.  Our Holiday includes parts of many different celebrations, and has evolved over time.  It took a turn for the worse, when excessive tricking threatened to take away the safe play of young people on this day.  Building fires, slashing tires, and excessive vandalism, along with older boys bullying younger, threatening to take candy, threatened the safety of all.  Now there are more community and organized events, and parents supervising children, especially younger children.  It is a good day to meet your neighbors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Jungle of Death: Stephen Brookes

This story is taken from the book Incredible Journeys But together by Readers Digest.  Stephen was eleven years old when he lived with his family in Burma, which was a part of India at the time.  The Japanese invaded Burma, and swept through the country so quickly everyone was taken by suprise, and many were left refugees.  The Japanese planes flying overhead were the first Stephen had ever seen.  His family was slow in leaving, not believing the disaster, and so had to leave quickly.  The headed north, away from the Japanese, into China.  In China they were held up, and finally were released to travel cross the country on foot to India.  They had to travel through 250 miles of jungle known as the Hukawng Valey.  50,000 refugees would try the same trip, only 25,000 would survive the ordeal, thee others would die in the jungle.  This included Stephen's father. 
This trip resulted in the break up of the family.  Stephen remained in India, and eventually traveled to England.  His mother, who was Burmese, returned to Burma after the war with his sister and brother. 

Movie Review: Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

This is a look at lemurs.  On thing I didn't know, lemur only live on Madagascar.  The evolved in Africa, traveled to Madagascar, and all those left behind somehow passed away.  Morgan Freeman narrates this tail of an interesting animal.  They are so cute the way they hop.  This movie is presented by Warner Brothers and IMAX.  This movie follows the work of Patricia Wright.  The Lemur is endangered due to excessive land clearing.  Fire is the most common tool to clear land, and these fires often burn out of control.  There is a process of reeducating farmers about the dangers of their indiscriminate burns. 
This is a good educational movie, and talks of practical things being done to help the lemur.   It is available only in IMAX theaters.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Documentary Review: Civil War Journal: Stonewall Jackson
This is an intriguing documentary about Stonewall Jackson.  This video portrays him as an eccentric, rigid man, with a genius streak which would serve him well in battle.  He was perseverant.  He had had only a minimal education when he went to West Point.  His initial year he was at the bottom of the class.  However, by the time he graduated, he was in the upper third.  He distinguished himself in the Mexican War, rising to the top of his class. 
He then took a position at VMI.  As a lecturer he was a failure, having to memorize his lectures and give them verbatim.  However he was a very good professor or artillery.  Many of his students were convinced he was a hard teacher, but if there were war they would want to follow him.  Some of Jackson's oddities including eating food he didn't like, which he felt would benefit him, feeling his body was off balance, so sometimes holding his hand over his head trying to regain his balance.  He was also a religious, and very strict in his observance. 
Jackson earned the name Stonewall at the Battle of Bull Run.  However it was the campaign of the Shenandoah Valley were he earned his fame.  His men would march excessive miles, and then be ready to battle.  He defeated three armies, who had almost four times his number of total men.  He used his knowledge of the land, the screen of the mountains and the movement of his own troops.  Jackson also always gave credit to God. 
This short film goes from the Valley to Chancellorsville.  This is likely one of Lee and Jackson's greatest victories.  However friendly fire, and pneumonia took Jackson's life.  "Let us cross over the river, and rest in the shade of the trees."  Jackson lead the way. 
Jackson's death leads to the what if question, which still is dominant today.  It was a blow to the Confederate morale.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Movie Review: Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog)

Encounters at the End of the World: Go Someplace Cool; A Werner Herzog Film, Discovery Films, 2008.
There are two disks with this this movie.  I put in the second first by accident.  It was a boring interview.  I realized my mistake and put in the second, which presented a story of Antarctica.  I was hoping to see strange sea animals, like a Jacque Cousteau movie.  And I wasn't disappointed, there was some of that.  The divers had to drill, and then blast a hole in the iceberg they were on, and under the iceberg was a new world.  No there wasn't a lot of wildlife, but what there was was beautiful.  There were clams, and creatures that looked like the developed to open clam shells, and a strange light under the ice.  It was pretty cool. 
Thee were even one cell creatures, which seemed to have intelligence, and attracted elements to itself, which would then become a part of the whole.  People were studying the DNA looking for the foundations of life.
The looked at penguins, and the penguin scientist would not confirm that there were homosexual penguins, he did confirm that sometimes penguins go off kilter.  Sometime they go the wrong direction, and no matter what you do, you can't turn them around.  They wonder into the mountains and die. 
This was also a study of the people that go to Antarctica.  What would drive a person to go to the end of the world.  Of course some go for the science, but others are just drawn to travel, or to adventure, and leave their careers to take up something else so as to travel that far south.
There was a neat look at a volcano, with a molten lake.  I guess it is one of three in the world, but the other two, due to political reasons, aren't really open to research, while this one is.  Research there can be scary at times, because it spits molten lave from time to time.

Book Review: The Tongva of California

The Tongva of California: The Library of Native Americans by Jack S. Williams, PowerKids Press, New York, 2003.
The Tongva, also known as the Gabrielinos, inhabited the area where Los Angeles is now.  They also inhabited the Catalina Islands, and their native lands also extended inward as well.  They were a coastal people, and crafted canoes from logs, as well as larger blank boats.  They spoke a dialect similar to Shoshone. 
This book gives an adequate history of the people, since the appearance of Europeans in about 1542.  However it wasn't until about 1769 that the Spanish decided to colonize the area.  The decided to do this using the Mission method.  They hoped to recruit the native population of California to defend the area for Spain and against other influences.  Father Junipero Serra was instrumetal in this.  The Spanish Monks saw this method as a way to Christianize the Natives, but also as a service to the poor.  The book points out they may not have wanted help. 
This effort however divided the people into two groups, the neophytes, or new converts to Christianity, who generally lived and supported the missions; and the gentiles.  Threats to the mission system came from the non religious Spanish settlements claiming some converts, and raids from the Native Americans from the Mojave area.
When the Mexican government took control form the Spanish, they secularized the missions, telling the natives they would now control their own resources.  However, rich Europeans moved in and took control of the mission properties.  Some of the Native peoples were able to find work in the European communities, but for the Tongva the effect was devastating as they lost their identity, culture and language. 
Today the Tongva are coming back together ass a community.  They are not a federally recognized tribe and do not have a reservation.  It is hard to know how many Tongva there are. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movie Review: Antietam
This documentary film is posted as the film played at the visitor's center at Antietam Battlefield.  It was made in cooperation with Civil War Trust and Historical Films Group.  It is narrated by James Earl Jones.  It gives a fantastic view of this battle, starting with the lead up to the a battle, the lost orders, the attack at Harper's Ferry ad the attacks through the mountain.  It was fun to view a portrayal, using historians, historical reenactments, maps and views of the battleground.  There were some parts of the battle I did not realize, including a flanking attack against the Confederates in the early battle on the North, followed by counter attack, artillery fire, the attack more towards the center, into the sunken road, which provide good defense, until it was flanked; and then became a death trap.  and then finally the attack in the south, across Burnside's Bridge.  It explained why this attack took so long to be effective, against only 400 Confederates.  It concluded with the timely charge of A.P. Hill, which hit the Union flank as they come up, having marched 17 miles that day from Harper's Ferry. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Civil War Journal - Pickett's Charge

This short presentation is very interesting.  It does use some docudrama, but also using historians recounting the battle, including one who worked at the battle site. Also many pictures, included of corpses on the field.  Danny Glover narrates.  The presentation quickly tells of the first two days, where the Union had been attacked on botgh flanks.  On the third day, Lee proposed to strike the center. 
General George Picket's division had three brigades who were all engaged, pretty much without support.  (Others were assigned to the attack, but never arrived.)  Two Brigade commanders were killed and the other wounded.
One of the most poignant stories is that of the friendship of brigade commander General Lewis Armistead of the Confederacy and General Winfield Scott Hancock of the Union.  They had served together in California, and returned east to fight in the war, one for each side.  They faced each other this day.  Armistead lead his men into the angle of the stone wall and over, where they were engaged in fierce hand to hand combat.  Armistead was fatally wounded.  Hancock was also wounded, shot in the thigh, but not taken from the battlefield.  Armistead died a few yards from where Hancock was being attended to.  He as the men who attended to him to tell Hancock he was sorry.  It appears he felt one of his men likely wounded Hancock. 
Half of Picket's 12,000 men were lost this day, wounded or killed or captured.  General Lee took responsibility for having ordered the attack, which was over open territory of at least a mile, into cannon from all sides, and then into the reinforced Union defense.  This was a disaster, but it was carried out with good style, men marching shoulder to shoulder as the faced the hail of shell.

Movie Review: Biography: Paul Revere

Movie Review: Biography: Paul Revere, A&E Biography Channel, 1995.
Paul Revere is an interesting man.  However, the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, presents a sketch of his midnight ride, which is influenced by truth and fable.  SO to look at this aspect of Paul Revere’s life first.  Revere was very much interested in the independence movement, and met often with those planning how to carry this about.  He was actively involved in the Boston Tea Party.  His major function was that of a messenger.  He would work his regular job and duties during the day, and then ride all night to deliver message.  His most frequent route was the Boston to New York and back.  He also visited Philadelphia.  He was also called upon to report on news from one city to another, about what efforts were being made towards independence. 
When there was trouble brewing in Boston, Paul Revere came up with the idea of a friend of his, across the bay, would let him know if the British Regulars were on the move.  Truly they used one or two lanterns to distinguish from where the trouble was coming.  Paul Revere did ride to warn those cities outside of Boston.  There was word the British military wanted to destroy a cache of arms they had heard about.  However, Paul Revere was not the only rider.  He did not say, “The British are coming.”  At that time all the residents were subjects of Britain.  However he did have a conversation with someone and said “The regulars are coming.”  He took his trip at night, as expressed.  However, he did stop and have a rest for a half hour with a friend, and letting his horse rest, before moving on to Concord.  He was not riding all out like depicted.  Such a ride would have killed his horse.  He was captured by the British, and threatened to tell what he knew.  He decided to play a bluff, and said there were 500 men expected to face the regulars.  This drew alarm, and he was allowed to leave, but withut his horse.
The story is well known.  The British first attacked local in Lexington, and routed them.  However, in Concord the situation was different.  The first fired from the North Bridge, and a volley was returned resulting the first British fatality of the war.  The British were forced to retreat, and as they did so, the local farmers and militia would fire from the trees, and then run forward and fire again.  A day that started out as a British victory, did not end that way.
As for Paul Revere, he never had an active part in the Revolutionary War.  He was expecting an officer’s commission, which did not come.  He did have command of a small garrison group in Boston.  His only real action was taking a group of men North to Maine, to clear out a British inhabited fort.  This was the largest maritime assault by Americans up to that time.  It did not go well.  There was bickering between the officers, and finally Revere ordered his men back to Boston without achieving their goal.  There was a court martial, and Revere was exonerated saying that the men were out of control, and would not have headed any command anyway. 
Revere was a very successful man.  Although he did not run for political office, he was active in civic duties, including local clubs and Free Masons.  He was one of the first industrialist.  He had trained as a silversmith, but branched out into other areas.  He and his suns established a bell making foundry.  This was at a period of religious revival, and many people needed bells for their churches.  He then expanded into copper, and made copper sheeting.  Many state houses are covered ith his copper, as well as the sides of many ships. 
789. Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, ‘If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.’

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Movie Review: Civil War Life: Shot to Pieces
This You Tube documentary and docudrama presented by Janson Media tells the life of William Francis Bartlett. It starts with perhaps his most heroic moment, the Battle of Ball's Bluff.  He served as a Captain.  His men were ordered to attack, but soon found themselves overwhelmed by the number of Confederates, and after a couple hours of hard shooting, were forced to pull back.  They suffered heavy loses, and made their way back to the Potomac River, where those who could swim made there way to Harrison Island.  Those who could not swim made a stiff defense, until they were able to make there way up river where they found a skiff, and under direction of the Captain and his pistol, made there way across to the island four men at a time.
Bartlett had served at First Bull Run as a Private.  He left his studies at Harvard to enlist.  He was 21 at the time.  He served is 90-day commitment.  
Bartlett's later military involvement was more difficult and costly to his own health.  In the Peninsular campaign he was shot in the knee, which shattered his bone.  His leg was removed three inches above the knee.  He was sent home to recuperate.
He returned to military service with a prosthetic, but as colonel of a different unit, new volunteers.  He trained them and when they were ready he lead them into battle being stationed in New Orleans.  There they were involved in siege of Port Hudson.  This was an attempt to control the Mississippi.  Colonel Bartlett was shot twice while doing reconnaissance.  He took a bullet to the hand and a pellet to his foot.  For a time it was feared he would lose his arm, but his medical care was able to help him preserve it.  After going home for a time, he reenlisted again.  This time he organized a regiment of veteran soldiers who had already completed one enlistment.  They joined Lee in time for the Battle of the Wilderness, and Colonel Bartlett was again wounded, this time shot in the head.  The blow was a grazing blow, and although he again was forced to take some time off, he returned again.
This time he was at the head of a division.  His unit was instrumental in the Battle of the Crater.  The charged into the crater, and found that coming up the other side was difficulty.  Bartlett was laid flat by an exploding mortar shell, in which he lost his prosthetic leg.  He was unable to retreat with others of his unit, and was taken prisoner. 
He ended up in Libby Prison, and suffered terribly for poor nutrition and illness.  He was exchanged after two months, and again went home to recuperate.  The war would end before he would return to service.  However he did return, and helped organize troops to defend Washington.  He now served as a brevet general.
He left military service in 1866.  We was successful at business, working in iron works.  However he never regained full health.  He had married his love, Agnes Pomeroy.  She felt he had done enough, but Bartlett always thought he could provide more service to his country.  He and his wife had four children.  However Bartlett passed away at age 36, succumbing to the after effects of his injuries, and tuberculosis. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Movie Documentary Review: JFK: The Lost Bullet

JFK: The Lost Bullet, National Geographic, 2013.
This documentary takes a new look at the assassination of John F. Kennedy using the various home movies taken that day, and also talking again with eye witnesses as well as using laser evidence to examine the route of the three shots people heard.  The first shot is the lost bullet. 
They first examine the last two bullets.  Bullet two is often referred to the magic bullet.  Using laser, and getting the car in the exact position of when this shot takes place using the Zapruder film (famous home video of the assassination) they demonstrate that the course was strait through the presidents back, out his neck and then into the Governor's back.  
The issue with bullet three is that the president's head whipped back instead of forward.  There are two conspiracy theories surrounding this shot.   The first, the driver shot him.  Digital enhancement clarifies this.  The driver did turn around and look at the president.  However he has nothing in his hand.  The second, the theory of a shooter on the grassy knoll.  They use other films from a different angle to refute this argument as nothing is seen on the hill.  Also the shot would have been fired form the side, and had to of hit the president in the side of the head, and then possibly hitting Jacklyn Kennedy.  The digital enhancement of the film does show a puff of moisture going forward after the president is struck.  Then his head jerks back in a reverse reaction effect.
Then the lost bullet, or the first bullet.  The contention here is that first, the Zapruder film does not record this bullet; the camera had been turned off for a few seconds to save film.  They say it took  six seconds between the first shot and the other two shots.  This is confirmed by two eye witnesses.  Then when they tried to reenact the scene using the laxer, they discovered a stop light would have obstructed the shot.  Looking back at pictures of the light, there was a mark which could have been the result of the bullet.  The bullet may have ricocheted and been lost in the street.  One woman was injured when she was struck by concrete form the curb. 
This is the conclusion of this film.  This uses high tech lasers to confirm the Warren Report.

Movie Review: Benjamin Franklin: Scienist and Inventor

Benjamin Franklin: Scienist and Inventor, Nest Hero Classics, Living History Productions Inc.
This is Ben Franklin a the inventor, who worked with electricity.  There was much we didn't know about electricity.  Study of electricity started as a way to do some tricks.  But Franklin was sure there was something useful that wold result form his studies.  His big realization came when he determined that lightning was electricity.  There were many fires as a result of lightning. 
However there must be opposition to every bit of progress.  Those who felt that lightning was God's way of giving out punishment thought such an idea was heresy.  Franklin, after realizing the link, next became determined that he could control the electricity to prevent house fires.  However he still needed proof to back up his theory.  This is where we see Franklin with the kite, trying to prove there was electricity in the lightning.  His son helped him.
His test was a success.  The result was the lightning rod.  This allowed tall buildings to be relatively safe as the lightning would strike the rod, and the electricity would be channeled away form the home or building and into the ground. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: The Long Road to Antietam

The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution, by Richard Slotkin, Liveright Publishing Corp.,2012.

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel, which added the political environment to the Battle of Antietam.  President Lincoln was determined to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, but his cabinet convinced him he needed a military victory on which to hand his announcement of the proclamation. Coming off the Battle of Second Bull Run, the Confederacy was emboldened to attack north, into Maryland.  In this battle, the forces under General John Pope.  General George McClellan's men had been withdrawn off the Peninsula, and could have moved forward to change the tide of battle, but McClellan was no so inclined,as he was more interested in destroying Pope than the Confederates. 
President Lincoln had no choice that appoint McClellan over the Army of the Potomac, and McClellan  was always seeking more power, more influence.  This quest for power always tainted what he did and how he lead his men.  However, when the battle plans of General Lee  were found, and given to McClellan, he had the tool to destroy Lee's army.
The Confederate Army had taken refuge behind South Mountain, where there were only a couple of passes, while General Stonewall Jackson took his Crop to capture Harper's Ferry, and the federal arsenal there.  McClellan for once had the ability to get over his habitual slows, and attack the Confederates through South Mountain. The drove them back, and they took up position aaeound the town of Sharpsburg.
Even though capturing took longer than expected, Jackson had most of his men back into the defense around Sharpsburg, although tired.  One division under A.P. Hill was left behind to coordinate the capture of supplies and the surrender and pardon of the over 12,000 men. 
The federal attack started on Lee's left, where Joe Hooker's Corp attacked Stonewall Jackson's Corp.  The where able to stop them initially, but eventually three corp would attack on that wing, and drive them back.  Also there was attack in the center, where the federal came up against a sunken road, which was a natural defense.  It took some time before they could drive the Confederates from the road, but the Confederates finally had to reform around Sharpsburg, and their lines were very thin.
In the meantime, General Burnside was expected to attack on the Confederate right, where he had to attack over a bridge.  There was also a ford, but it took the troops too long to find the ford.  When this flank of Lee's was finally being overrun by superior numbers, A.P. Hill finally arrived and hit the flank of the attack and drove them back. 
Lee survived the day.  McClellan could have continued the attack, and finished of Lee's army, or at least inflicted unrecoverable damage.  However McClellan always over estimagted Lee's forces, or just didn't want an out and out victory which would have pleased the Republicans, and did not pursue his advantage. 
Lee stayed the next day, but there was no attack, and he crossed over the fords back into Virginia the next day. 
The repulse of the Confederates in Maryland gave Lincoln the victory he needed to support his announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.  They would use the war powers act to emancipate the slaves in the rebellious states as war contraband.  With this decision, the war took on a new meaning.  We had put down on paper what the war was about, the freedom for the slaves.  In addition African Americans could now serve in the military, and almost 200,000 would serve.  This was about ten percent of the total fighting for the North, but represented almost 20 percent of those that fought in the last two years, when the African Americans were allowed to enlist.
On side note is the wealth involved in slavery.  Slavery is an evil, and the South should not have built their economy based on slavery.  At the time of the emancipation, slaves represented an investment of $3.5 billion.  The total net worth of the property in the United States at the time was $16 billion. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Documentary Review: Titanic: How It Really Sank

Titanic: How it Really Sank, National Geographic, 2012,
This is a story about many things coming together to cause a tragedy.  It is told with narration to reenactment, (this includes reenactment of a 1912 hearing) interviews with experts, and some original footage.  The Titanic was compromised before it set sail, even though it was called "unsinkable."  A few things were changed about the design.  The bulkheads were lowered, especially those midship.  The bulkhead at the stern of the ship still was full, but the others barely extended above the water line.  The ship was made of steal, a newer and stronger material.  Where the rivets were put in by machine, they were usually steel rivets.  However the machine could not reach everyplace, and men put in pig iron rivets.  It was discovered this rivets were class three, rather than the better quality class four.  The witnesses to the breech, mach those investigating conclude that the steel was not torn, but the rivets gave way and the tear was at the seems.  That the iceberg was so far south was an anomaly.  However the ship had been warned about icebergs being farther south than usual.  An early message reached the Captain, and he delayed turning the boat due west for 20 minutes and as a result, it traveled farther south, and was then headed directly for the iceberg.  Another urgent message never reached the Captain who had left the deck.  A third was ignored.  This would have told them they were headed directly for he iceberg.  The wireless operator was too busy delivering messages of the wealthy on ship to deal with these urgent messages.  The iceberg was this far south as the Gulf Stream was traveling farther south than usual, which allowed the ocean currents form the north to travel farther south.  There was an iceberg watch, however they were hampered because the binoculars were locked away an no one had the key.  A last minute staff changed resulted in the key to the locker with the binoculars being taken off the ship.  Lastly, the boat turned enough to avoid a head on collision, but the glancing blow proved to be more deadly.  Had the Titanic struck head on, chances are it would have survived.  The bulkhead was higher and would have prevented a catastrophic inundation of water.  If the Titanic would have sunk, it would have been slower and allowed rescue.  With the breech along the side, where the bulkheads had been lowered, the water was able to overflow the bulkheads, and flood more compartments.  The finally tragedy was the lack of sufficient life boats.  48 life boats were required for all the passengers.  However, only 16 were required by law.  That is how many there were, because the designer did not think passengers wanted to look at life boats.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book Review: The Civil War: 1861-1865

The Civil War: 1861-1865: An Interactive Package of Image and Text, by David E. Roth, Smithmark, New York, 1992.
This is a coffee table book with the first third of the book dedicated to text, and then the rest of the book an illustrated history of the Civil War.  The illustrations include actual photographs, sketches, newspaper advertisements and headlines.  It offers a very extensive collection and covers the period of the war, with even some of the period of reconstruction included.  This has been a good read as the descriptions of the pictures provide a great deal of information.  CD rom was included which offers uncopyrighted versions of the pictures for person use.  This include pictures of President Lincoln and Davis, General Lee and Grant (and all the other Union commanders.)  It also has a very nice section of Navy pictures.  This collection is very complete.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Looking at Lincoln

Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman, Nancy Paulsen Books, New York, 2012.
This is a children’s picture book, consequently the art is part of the story.  At first I thought is wasn’t going to include any history, but just a little girl’s story.  However, it did put some basic ideas in the story.  He was born in log cabin in Kentucky, his mother died when he was young, but he had a good relationship with his stepmother.  She encouraged him to read.  They moved to a log cabin in Illinois, and from there he became a lawyer in Springfield.  One of his friends was the first officer killed in the war, removing a Confederate flag from a boarding house in Alexandria.  He gave the Gettysburg Address, and one of the last speeches he gave included this line, “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
This book is better viewed as an artistic expression. The art work is fantastic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull: American Biographies by: Ann Weil, Heinemann Library, Chicago, Ill, 2013.
This book is interesting because it has little boxes of fact vs. fiction.  Some of these challenge what I previously felt I knew about Sitting Bull.  This book is written from a native American angle, and also seems to be dependent on a biography written of Sitting Bull by his great-great-grandson based on oral history.  I must admit I am a little suspect about some of the things it says.  However, some things I learned.  Sitting Bull was the third name.  Prior names included “Jumpng Badger” and “Slow”.  In this case slow refers to Sitting Bull’s habit of taking his time and thinking things through.  The naming of Sitting Bull, I had read in a book growing up was from making a buffalo bull calf sit.  This book contends it was through a religious visitation to his father.  Sitting Bull showed the Lakota virtues, generosity, wisdom, bravery and fortitude.  He proved himself in battle and in counting coup.  He was also a Sun Dance participant, which took great bravery and fortitude.  He had a vision of the Battle of Little Big Horn before it took place, however he did not actually participate in the battle, leaving this to younger warriors.  Crazy Horse actually lead this battle.
After this battle, they were pursued greatly by the American forces.  (This book uses an Indian term for white people, Wasichu, which basically means greedy.)  Sitting Bull escaped with about 1000 followers to Canada rather than become an agency Indian or reservation Indian.  However this life was hard and he returned. 
He was allowed to travel with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show.  He would give his money to poor children.
However he missed his land and people and returned.  He again saw his vision his own death, by the hand of his own people.  There was conflict with regards to the ghost dance.  (This book says Sitting Bull did not believe however previous research says he was studying the religion and Sitting Bull had been participating in the ghost dance either as participant or spectator.  However his arrest was ordered, and in the struggle Sitting Bull was killed, as well as about six members of his family and friends, as well as six native American police who had been sent to arrest him.
Many who had been at the ghost dance fled.  However the government pursued them, which resulted in the Battle of Wounded Knee.  The ghost shirts did not protect them from bullets. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Navajo People

Navajo People: Native American Tribes by Mary Null Boule, Merryant Publishers Inc., 2003.
This is the second of her series I have looked at.  I am disappointed in them both and am not going to look at her books anymore.  Over half the book is taken by a description of Native Americans in general.  She concludes this saying how the Native Americans lived in peace and harmony for thousands of years and then the White man came who rarely even asked permission to take over the land.  I think the author is propagandizing.  These books are not fit for schools.  It appears their production is geared to take advantage of required school reporting on native Americans.  The author’s bias should be left to herself and it was a sad day these books were published.  
I was wondering if I learned anything new.  I liked the description of the hogan and how they are made.  However the author didn't even talk about the matriarchal society nor the clans.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Documentary Review: Evita: The Woman Behind the Myth

Evita: The Woman Behind the Myth: A&E Biography Channel, 1996.
You can always learn a little more about a subject.  For example Eva's hair was not naturally blonde but was dyed.
This video presentation offered considerable information with regards to Eva's foundation.  The foundation was established as an answer to a snub from the Argentine aristocracy.  The Society of Beneficence handles most charitable giving to the poor.  The first lady was always called to be the foundation chair.  Contribution to the fund was mandatory.  Every Argentine worker contributed one to three day's pay towards the fund every year.  In addition to this all Argentine industries were expected to contribute.  This was a way to keep governmental inspectors away. There were also taxes on gambling, casinos, lottery and horse racing and other taxes which also supported the fund.
The fund contributed up to $45 million a years towards the poor.  However, the fund kept no records.  It was impossible to tell how much of the fund was siphoned off into private accounts. 
One of the projects funded by the Fund was Evita City.  This was a city established with government sponsored housing.  The houses, with furniture and clothing, were given to those selected to be recipients.  The documentary interviewed one woman whose family moved into one of these homes.  Before there was no possibility of the family to rise out of poverty.  The children had not even been able to attend school until this charity.
This presentation also explores the efforts of Evita to become vice president when Juan Peron was running for reelection.  She had originally accepted the nomination; but had to rescind due to pressure from the military.
One of the interesting things about Evita is the preservation of her body after she passed away.  She succumbed to uteran cancer at the age of 33.  She did not want to be forgotten.  Her husband had her body embalmed, with the hopes of fulfilling this request.  He had hoped to build a large memorial for her, however this never happened.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Pocahontas, American Biographies

Pocahontas, American Biographies, by Gail Fay, Heinemann Library, Chicago, Il, 2013.
This book clarified for me some false ideas I had about Pocahontas.  I guess most of my information came from the Disney movie.  This book indicates that Pocahontas and John Smith were not romantically involved as Pocahontas was only 10 or 11 at the time.  However it is certain Pocahontas was instrumental in the Jamestown settlement surviving.  The story of Pocahontas saving John Smith was told by John Smith, but he is the only source of this story.  The relationship between the Powhatans and the settlement at Jamestown varied from being helpful to being at war.  There were periods the people of Jamestown could not hunt for fear of being killed, and this lead to starvation.  The winter 1609-1610 was particularly bad for the settlers at Jamestown.  Many died of starvation.  They were ready to abandon the settlement when three boat loads of setters arrived. 
This book indicates Pocahontas married Kocoum in 1610 at the age of 15.  At age 18 Pocahontas was tricked by the new governor of Virginia and held captive at Jamestown and then Henrico a more defensible settlement.  The settlers tried to use Pocahontas as leverage.  The insisted her father, Chief Powhatan, the leader of the Powhatan Indians return weapons they had stolen, and provide them with food.  As he refused to return weapons, Pocahontas remained prisoner.  During this time, she lived in the settlement, wore European clothes and was “Christianized.”  She was baptized.  She was taught to read and read from the Bible.  One of her teachers was John Rolfe.  John Rolfe’s wife had passed away shortly after he had arrived in North America.  He fell in love with Pocahontas and they were married.  Pocahontas traveled with him to England.  They had one son. Thomas Rolfe.  While in England Pocohantas became sick and she died, perhaps of tuberculosis.  She was only twenty-two.
However her son reached adulthood.  Her son returned to America where his grandfather, Chief Powhatan had left him lands where he grew tobacco. 
Pocahontas was a peace giver.  She gave the people in Jamestown peace after they first arrived.  She was able to influence her father to provide them with food.  After her marriage to John Rolfe there was also a time of peace.  She had provided peace once again to her peoples.  However, after her death in England, there was no reason for the Powhatan people to maintain peace.  After Chief Powhatan passed away, his brother became the head chief.  His brother did not like the settlers, and a period of conflict resulted with many deaths.
The Powhatan people still live in this area.  There are two reservations.  Pocahontas also has descendants through her son.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: Frederick Douglass: Truth is of No Color

Frederick Douglass: Truth is of No Color, by: Michael A. Schuman, Easlow Publisher Inc., Berkeley Heights, NJ, 2009.
Frederick Douglass was an interesting man.  He was born a slave, and in his early life received some mistreatment, as well as some care.  His mother was really never able to care for him, as she worked long hours.  As a toddler he was in the care of his grandmother.  His mother would have to walk 12 miles from the fields to see her son.  At age six Frederick was sent to work.  At this time he met his older siblings who had previously been sent to the same plantation to work. 
At eight years old, Frederick’s master passed away.  He and the entire family were lined up and distributed amongst the inheritors.  He went to Thomas and Sophia Auld.  Sophia would read the bible to Frederick and her own son, when Frederick was not working.  He became fascinating with the idea of letters forming words.  He asked her to teach him, and she did.   This is unusual as it was against the law to teach a slave to read.  When Sophia bragged to Thomas about Fredericks’s reading, the lessons stopped.  However Frederick continued to learn.  At this time he worked as an errand boy in the shipyard in Baltimore.  He would play reading games with other boys, testing who could read best.  Frederick used these games to improve his reading. 
As a teen, Frederick was assigned to work for others.  In this he was beaten, and required to do tasks he had not been trained to perform.  He finally determined he must escape.  He escape using the Maritime Papers of a friend.  These identified him as a veteran sailor who had won his freedom through his service.  This came in handy as questioning was much less for those who were veterans.  He traveled by ship and train, until he made it to Philadelphia.
He changed his name to make it harder for others to track him.  He lived in several communities which he had heard that they were positive to African Americans.  However he still found prejudice.  In the church the Black people were asked to sit in the back and spoken down to.  They formed their own church.  Blacks were not allowed in school, so Frederick took upon himself their education.
Douglass became and abolitionist speaker.  He published an autobiography, and then began publishing his own abolitionist paper.  He traveled in England, for his own safety.  He was still subject to capture and return to slavery in the United States.  However, we was married and had children and missed them, so he returned.  Douglass was a correspondent of John Brown.  When Brown was arrested and hung for treason, these letters were found and a finger pointed at Douglass.  Even though Douglass had cautioned him against his rash plan, there was still the air of conspiracy.  Douglass fled to England again.  However, the nation did not want to pursue anyone else about this affair, especially after the commencement of the Civil War.
Douglass returned, and advised the president to free the slaves and recruit them for military service.  After the emancipation proclamation they were accepted for service, and Douglass worked with recruitment.  He also worked for African American soldiers to receive equal pay.
At Lincoln’s second inauguration he visited the White House, but guards would not let him enter.  African Americans had never before been invited to a social occasion at the White House.  However, President Lincoln saw him, and invited him in, said there is my good friend Frederick Douglass.  He asked for his critique of his inaugural address.  This may have been the first time an African American had been invited into the White House for such an occasion.
Douglass fulfilled many government positions by appointment after this.  His wife died after 44 years of marriage, and he went into a period of melancholy before being able to return to work.  Douglass did another thing that was unheard of at that time.  He married a White woman, Helen Pitts, who had been his clerk. 
Frederick Douglass did a great deal towards the emancipation of the slaves, and then towards the advancement of African Americans.  He likely did more in this regard than anyone, at least until the fight for Civil Rights.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eva Peron's Glamor and Juan Peron's Rise

This is from a couple of articles I saved over the years.  I would like to credit the source, but do not have this available.  It is interesting how Juan Peron identified himself as the savior of the poor people, while he himself and his wife lived in opulence.  Juan Peron and Eva (Evita) Duarte met in 1943 and were married in 1945. 
In a Movie, "The Encaged Cat of the Circus

The Actress
The Boxer

Shortly after the wed

Minister of Defense 1943

The Glamour

Before 1946 Presidential Inauguation

They Take of their jackets to show unity with the poor.  "We are all shirtless now"

Evita's audience with the Pope

City decked to honor Evita's death
Evita's funeral viewing