Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Louisa May's (Alcott) Battle

Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women, Kathleen Krull, illustrations Carlyn Beccia, Walker Books for Young Readers, New York, 2013.
This is a short story type book with illustrations.  It tells the story of Louisa May Alcott going to Washington to serve as a nurse during the Civil War.  A woman had to be 30 years old to serve, so shortly after her birthday she traveled from her rural home to the city.  She had nursed her sister until her sister died from scarlet fever. 
When she arrived she was placed in charge of a ward of 40 men, who all had various illnesses.  Germs were common. 
However after only three days, she was woken during the night as 40 carts of men, wounded in battle were arriving.  Louisa spent the next twelve hours bathing the men as they came from the battle field.  She was placed in charge of a ward again, but now with more difficult cases, and seeing the effects of war.  She had the graveyard shift and would sing lullabies to the men if they couldn’t sleep.  While she was there, she was able to celebrate the emancipation of the slaves on January 1, 1863 at midnight.
As a result of her service, Louisa almost died.  She contracted Typhoid, and was very sick.  She insisted on staying, but her father came and collected her and took her home.  It took her a couple months to recover, and she was never without complications as a result of her illness, headaches, exhaustion and nerve pain.  She also lost all her hair, which before her illness had reached to her feet when not put up.
Before serving as a nurse she had been a writer, but not very successful.  However she took her letters from the hospital, and they were printed in an antislavery newspaper.  They were then put into a book form.  They were a big success as people were starved for first-hand knowledge of the war.  Eventually she was asked to write a women’s book, and “Little Women” was the result.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Gettysburg Address: in Translation

The Gettysburg Address: in Translation; What It Really Means, by: Kay Melchisedech Olson, Fact Finders, Kids’ Translations, Capstone Press, Mankato, MN, 2009.
Gettysburg Address

This is again a children’s book, so only expect an overview.  I don’t like the idea of translating the words.  It is not a true translation, and appears manipulated so the author can express opinion or information he/she wants to without regards for the original document.  However this does include the original words, which sound so much better than the translation, almost poetic. 
There is also a glaring factual error, which is repeated twice.  The author says the battle at Gettysburg was the first in the North of the war.  Antietam was in Maryland the year prior.  Maybe the author thought Maryland was in the South, but her own map and list of states has it in the North.  I don’t know how this could have been missed. 
This is something I need to check out.  The book suggests  You choose your grade level, and then put in the book code, 1429619309 and it will give you links for age appropriate information. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: The Aztecs

This is a children's book.  The Aztecs: History Opens Windows, Jane Shuter, Heinemann Library, Chicago, 2009, 
This book gives a generalized look at the Aztec history, and their lifestyle.  However it would not be considered an archeological book.  It is mostly based on pictures, and short bits of information.  The Aztec had early periods as early as 1200, but did not come to prominence until the 1400s.  They would join alliances to gain power, and if unable to do this would go to war with other peoples.  When the Spaniards invaded in 1519 Montezuma ruled a kingdom of over one million people which extended through much of Southern Mexico.
The book gives a very idea of the social hierarchy with workers and slaves at the bottom of the structure.  The Aztec made many prominent pyramids for worship.  These were high mounds, with a building on top of the mound.  IN this way they could get closer to the gods.  They believed in giving the gods blood to appease them.  This included human sacrifice.  Quetzalcoatl did not believe in sacrifice.  They had calculated he would return to visit them in 1519. 
The Aztec cities were centered around the temples.  Their people were good farmers.  Their main city was built over the top of a lake, with reeds and soil being placed over the top of the shallow lake, making areas for planting crowds, which were surrounded by water.  The people worked hard and played games.  Some games were for everyone, and others only for the upper class and played at festivals.  They had constructed large arenas for hoops for a game similar to basketball.  They also danced and enjoyed music.  Many of their instruments were destroyed by the Spaniards in an effort to thwart their religion.  They also had sophisticated crafts, using jewelry and gold.  Craftsmen were highly regarded.  They had a written language of hieroglyphics.  They had a calendar based on 18 months of 20 days.  Each month had a god and a festival.  However the 5 days not included on the calendar were unlucky days.
Their demise came with the coming of the Spaniards, who came searching for gold they had heard of.  Montezuma was confused, but greeted Cortez as a god.  By the time the realized he was no god, it was too late and the Aztec succumbed to more sophisticated weaponry and men on horses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Documentary Review: Slave Catchers and Slave Resisters

This is a presentation from The History Channel which gives a history of the means used by slave honors to keep their "property" and maintain the institution of slavery.  It points out that the reason for slavery is that it made some man very wealth even though their was the immorality of it, and even though their were slave escapes, and always the fear of slave uprising.  There was some reason for white people to be weary of this possibility.  The Stono rebellion of a group of slaves trying to make it to Florida and freedom (as offered by the Spanish who were at war with England) resulted in the execution of white people.  The revolt started with 20 men but swelled to about 100.  They were led by Jemmy.  Eventually the militia was called out and the revolt was crushed, many Blacks being killed, some gaining freedom and other executed.
Over time, the tactics used to recapture slaves changed, but finally landed on the slave catchers to pursue and bring back runaways.  All whites could be pushed into being slave catchers, but those most successful were those who did it professionally for the chance of reward. 
This movie also talks about the revolt of Nat Turner, and those who followed him.  Turner was a preacher and felt he had been called to avenge the slaves.  His was a very bloody rebellion.  They killed any white people they saw.  Eventually the rebellion was crushed, but Turner was at large for some time.  During this time of heightened alarm, many black people were executed as being complicit, or just because.  In this case the federal government and local militia were both called in.  Slavery was codified in our constitution, and the South had a great deal of political power. 
The fugitive slave act of 1850 in essence made every citizen a slave catcher.  This did not set well with abolitionist.  Although it did work to have slaves returned, it also galvanized the country.  This contributed to the final test with regards to slavery, that of the Civil War.
The Civil War was not the final say on race relations.  After the war the Klu Klux Klan sprang up which kept the struggle for white domination of blacks alive. 
Link on slave uprisings
This movie has its strengths.  I generally do not like historical reenactment as a documentary method.  However in this case it is well done and appropriate to the story.  There is also sufficient interviews and other information to make it OK.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Documentary Review: Tiananmen Square: Declassified

This is a Documentary from The History Channel indicated they are revealing documents just released about the 1989 issues at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.  This is the largest gathering place in the world.  The demonstrations started with students, and eventually spread to the general population as workers and others sympathetic joined.  The students started with requesting more democracy, although not necessarily sure what that meant.  The catalyst which lead to the protest was the death of reformist Hu Yaobang.
Initially the protests were tolerate, but eventually they became an embarrassment to the Communist Party and not to be tolerated.  At their high point, over 1.25 million people were in the square protesting.
When the government refused to hear the protestors, they turned to hunger strike to put more pressure on the government.  When they finally consented to a meeting, they lectured the students as if they were misbehaving children.  There was no negotiation.  The government response using force was condoned by Deng Xiaopeng, the supreme ruler.
On June 4 armed troops with tanks approached the Square from all sides.  Most of those killed by the army were people on the outskirts of the protest, rather than those in the center.  Many unarmed citizens, workers and commoners, were killed.  There is no indication of the number.  The government released that 1000 troops and a few hundred civilians were killed.  However others have put the citizen count of deaths in the thousands. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Review: The Wright Brothers

Next Entertainment, Rich studios, Animated hero Classics: The Wright Brothers, 1996.
This animated feature tells the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright as the develop the first motorized flying machine.  The made two major discoveries in the quest to fly.  The first was that they needed to have a rotating rudder, so the could correct for small errors the way a bird does.  The next is that their starting data was wrong.  They had to rework the information the were provided as to what would make something fly, and come up with their own data.
This presentation gives a humorous tone to the competition between themselves and thee French, in the race to be the fist to fly.  The Wright's were patient, before sharing their success with the world.  However, when they did share and publicly present their plane, they did so in France.
Their father was supportive of their work, but asked that they not fly together until they were sure it was safe.  he did not want to lose both sons at one time.  The presentation concludes with them flying together.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Biography: Nat Turner

This is a story of a man which changed the way whites thought of slaves, for good or bad.  His story put fear in every slave owner.  Fear for his family.  Fear for his children.  Fear for himself.  And fear for the institution of slavery. 
Much of this is taken from The Good The Bad and the Mad by E. Randall Floyd.  Nat Turner got along well with the white community.  He even preached some to the Black community, and helped solve disputes.  However at the age of 28 he had a dream, from which he interpreted that he was suppose to lead a blood uprising against the white masters.  He also heard voices inside his head.  Turner was charismatic, and a good speaker.  These traits helped him raise a following. 
On the night of August 22, 1831, Turner lead a band of ax-wielding man on a bloody rampage.  Moving under the cover of darkness the first broke into the home of his master, and killed the entire family.  The next morning the band of about 30 men feel upon a widow and her ten children.  One child escaped, but the other nine were killed.  There was no torture, no looting; just killing. 
Before they were through sixty white men, women and children had been killed.  The local militia finally organized and drove them off, killing some out right, killing some innocent black bystanders, and chasing Turner and a few of his men into the swamp. 
Turner was captured about a month later.  He was tried and condemned to be hung.  In conversations with his lawyer he indicated he felt no remorse.  Even Christ was crucified.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Biography: Cyrus Read Teed

Cyrus Read Teed advocated an idea I had never heard before.  His idea is that we are not living on the crust of the Earth, but the interior of the Earth.  In other words, China is not strait down through the Earth, but strait up through the sky.  After the civil war, he set up a medical herbal practice.  While in his lab he had a divine revelation telling him of his earth core theory.  “To know the earth’s concavity is to know God, while to believe in the earth’s convexity is to deny Him and all His works.”
There is a museum in Florida, where he had set up his new society where the ideas of “Koreshan” are explained.  It is now a state historic site in Florida.
From The Good, The Bad and the Mad: Weird People in American History, E. Randall Floyd, Harbor House Books, Augusta, GA, 1999.

Book Review: Discovering Black America

Discovering Black America: From the Age of Exploration to the Twenty-first Century, Linda Tarrant-Reid, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012.
This book starts out very well, but I don’t care for where it ends.  It tells the story of Black Americans from the beginning of European contact with the New World.  It starts with black included in the exploration of America, such as with Cortez or Pizarro, and then gives a history of slavery in the New World.  It talks about blacks who performed in the Revolutionary war, including as spies or regular soldiers.  This was one path to freedom, as those who served were given their freedom. 
It gives a history of those who escaped to freedom, and many who returned and helped others.  It gives a brief history of the Civil War, and emancipation.  Frederick Douglas and other escaped slaves took up the casue of abolition.  Much of the anger of the draft riots in New York was expressed against African Americans, and many perished.  Even more so, a very large percentage of Blacks actually served in the war.  Some African women helped as spies. 
Initially, right after the Civil War, reconstruction took into account the needs of the African American.  There were some who served in public office.  However, as Jim Crow laws began to take effect, we entered one of the darkest times in American history.  Racism is never right, but we went through a period of institutionalized racism with the concept of separate but equal.  Of course it was not equal.  Along with this was the limitation of voting rights through various means including literacy tests etc. 
Although willing to fight, the African American community was very limited in their contribution during WWI.  WWII saw the same discrimination in the military.  However there was progress.  One of my favorite stories is that of Dorie Miller, a sailor who was confined to being a cook because of his race, but on the day of Pearl Harbor commandeered a machine gun, and with that gun downed three enemy aircraft. 
The story of the Tuskegee airmen is another story of overcoming racial suppression during WWII.  These men were able to overcome everyone trying to make sure they would fail.  They were able to provide a great service in the war.
After WWII, civil rights were still an issue for African Americans.  The 60s were a troubled time, but slowly people began to see things differently, and many African Americans and a few white people stood up for equal rights.  Marin Luther King and Malcolm X were prominent in this effort.  They had different methods, but both were successful.  Both were assassinated. 
This book refers to the election of President Obama.  It almost gives the feel that only those who were able to put off racism voted for Obama.  In doesn’t talk about basic philosophical differences which have nothing to do with race.  “Some observers regarded the election of Obama as evidence that most American voters are now more influenced by a candidate’s political platform than by his or her racial identity.”  I am not sure if that statement is true.  Many voted for Obama because he is black, not because of his platform.
I enjoyed this history book, which gives a different perspective.  The book throws in a genealogy chapter at the end, which didn’t seem to fit with the story.  My thoughts is the first of the b ook is great, but the end is only so-so.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Peace and Violence Among the 19th Century Saints

This link is a church article which talks about many issues with regards to the church and violence in the early days of the church.   It shows the story from both sides, talking about the Mormons from the side of victims of violence, but also talks about times when early Saints perpetrated violence.  It talks about many things which you would think the church wouldn't talk about.  This includes discussion of the Danites and their roll in violence.  It also gives a very good summary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. 
Violence against members of the Church in the early days resulted in much loss of life and persecution.  It also resulted in loss of property, which was never reimbursed.  Violence resulted in the Mormons becoming refugees on several occasions.  This included the expulsion from Nauvoo, and the resultant hardships in Iowa and Nebraska.  It is estimated that during this time, one in twelve Mormons passed away because of this hardship.  That the U.S. would allow such violence against a religious group is unheard of in the history of our country, but it did happen.  Mormons achieved a relative period of peace by fleeing to the Rocky Mountains.
In 1857, there was again misunderstanding between the Mormons and the U.S. which lead to the march of U.S. troops against the Mormons to put down rebellion.  It was in this atmosphere that the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  The violence against others is not acceptable, and was not authorized by the church.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Documentary Review: Design for Peace; Victory at Sea

This is the last of 26 episodes produced by NBC.  This episode was first released in 1953.  This episode starts with the introduction of a new age.  First the detonation of an atomic bomb in New Mexico, and then the two in Japan.  At that point the emperor for Japan announced to his people that they were going to stop fighting the war to avoid the annihilation of the Japanese people. This was August 14, 1945. 
The formal surrender took place aboard the USS Missouri on September 2 1945.  Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigimitsu signed the surrender instrument for the emperor of Japan.  General Douglas MacArthur signed the document for allied powers, and Admiral Chester Nimitz for the U.S. 
Before showing pictures of the victory celebration, the documentary showed scenes from the horror of war,I am sure using shots from the previous episodes in the documentary series.  Finally there were images of celebration around the world presented.

Documentary Review: Suicide for Glory; Victory at Sea

In a last stand, and a last ray of hope, the Japanese sent over 250 kamikaze pilots against the United States fleet off of Okinawa.  In my min there is nothing scarier than a kamikaze.  Someone who has already decided to give up his life, if he can just take some with him.  Almost 200 kamikaze were part of the attack at Okinawa.  They had previously been used in the Philippines.  If the could trade a plane for a ship, then they would be well worth it.  This seemed possible for a time.  24 of the 196 kamikaze crashed into ships.  Many of the others inflicted damage, but were destroyed before striking a vessel.  The Japanese also employed other planes.  The battle for Okinawa was a difficult fight, as the Japanese had 130,000 defenders on the island.  The Americans put 180,000 men on the island.  The also had 300 warships and 1100 other ships.  It was a costly battle.  As many as 125,000 Japanese soldiers were killed.  The U.S. lost 7300 men on land and 5000 at sea, with many more, almost 40,000 wounded.  The leader of the Japanese ground forces killed himself just before the battle was over.  The U.S. lost 36 ships, and 400 others damaged.  They also lost 763 aircraft.  The Japanese lost 4000 planes 16 ships sunk.
This presentation also documents the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. 

Documentary Review: Victory at Sea: The Road to Mandalay

This film was originally produced by NBC News, and first presented in 1953.  It has more recently been released by the History Channel.  
This is a film about the allied effort to build a road through the jungle, going around the Japanese occupation of Burma, Siam, Southeast Asia; to eventually reach China, and get needed supplies to these people before they would be compelled to surrender to the Japanese.  Mandalay is a large city in Burma.  There were people from all over the world taking part in this effort, Australia, U.S., England, New Zealand, Burma, China, Africa, India.  This was a worldwide effort to rescue this people, and turn the tide of the war.  This movie starts with sea resupply, but this resupply had to land in India.  The were still hundreds of miles from where the supplies needed to arrive, through jungle and over the Himalayas.  The first step was to retake enough territory from the Japanese for the building of the rode.  This was then followed by engineers and road builders.  However they did not only build a road, but also a pipeline to supply needed oil.  On several occasions they quote from a Rudyard Kipling poem, "
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: The Makah

The Makah: Watts Library: By Sharlene and Ted Nelson, Scholastic Inc., 2003.
In the Makah people I have found a fascinating story.  The Makah inhabited the area in Washington which is the fartheset farthest west you can go in the lower 48 states, and the farthest north along the Pacific ocean.  This is known as Cape Flattery.  The reservation is still there, although much diminished over the years.  The Olympic National Park is also in this area.  It is also the area of Bella and the Twilight saga.
Some things stand out about this culture.  They traditionally gathered most of their food from the ocean, including whaling from large canoes.  Salmon was a large part of their diet.  This they would dry.  They would eat dried fish dipped in seal or whale oil.  The weaved cedar bark to make ropes and clothing, they believed in the tradition of Potlatch, where the person having the party would feed many, and give many things away.  This was OK because when they were invited to a potlatch they would get things back.  So their community was a balance between the forest and the sea.    Much of the forest has been logged, but there is still old growth in the national park. 
They also did intricate carvings in wood with which they would express their beliefs and traditions. 
A 500 year old site in Ozette was discovered and excavated over many years.  This lead to a museum and cultural center with many artifacts displayed.

Book Review: Confederate General: Stonewall Jackson

Confederate General: Stonewall Jackson; We the People, by: Robin S. Doak, Compass Point Books, Mankato, MN, 2009.
This is a brief history of Stonewall Jackson, and being so brief it is not able to tell many things clearly.  It starts with First Bull Run, where Jackson picked up his nick name.  However this created a confusion for the story line, as the author came back and covered this again.  It also misses 2nd Bull Run entirely, which was where the Jackson motto of “Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible.  And when you strike and overcome him, never give up the pursuit as long as your men have the strength to follow.” 
This book does point out the fact that Jackson was dead before Gettysburg.  Had he been alive, the battle very likely had had a different result. 
It is good to remember Jackson, but this book, in being brief misses much of the highlight.  It even skims over the Seven Days Battle, which was not Jackson’s finest generalship.  Other books are needed for a good study of Jackson, but this is an introduction, and it is a book geared to younger readers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: Lost CIvillization: The Inca

The Inca by James A. Corrick, Lucent Books, San Diego, CA, 2001.  I found this book a bit hard to read, but honestly it tells more about certain aspects of Inca life and civilization than any other book I have read.  It does a very thorough job of described the preIncan societies, and how the Inca empire came to  be.  At one point, things really were in a balance, and the Incan emperor fled Cusco with one of his sons.  However another son stayed to defend Cusco, and the were able to turn back the tide.  The legend says even the rocks fought in the defense of Cusco. 
This book also gives a very good look at the fall of the Inca.  Their were several things that happened before Francisco Pizarro arrived.  The Inca had an internal civil war, which resulted in a change of power.  They also had been subject to a plague, likely of some European disease such as smallpox.  It may have spread from central America, or Pizarro and some of his men who had previously visited to scout out the Inca and their mounds of gold.  For these reasons, the Incan empire was week; still Pizarro's force was much smaller than the warriors available to the Inca.  The used treachery, invited the Incan emperor to a celebration.  They then attacked the guards (2000) with canon and horses, new tools of war to the Inca, and captured the emperor.  The emperor negotiated for his freedom, a room of gold and silver.  It too six months for the Inca to deliver but they did; however Pizarro did not, and had the emperor killed thinking that if the Inca had no head they would be easier to conquer.  The Spanish then fought their way into Cusco.  Their was resistance after this, which the Spanish eventually quelched.
The Inca did offer human sacrifices to their gods.  The think I did not know was that the majority of these sacrifices were young people, who were considered more pure.  Sometimes they were given alcohol before the sacrifice, making it so the were less aware of what was happening.  Many different methods of sacrifice were used.  And although sacrifice at alters for ceremonies was performed, also sacrifices were offered at high mountain peeks which were considered sacred.  
The after effects of the Incan empire are many.  The introduced tomatoes, potatoes and corn to the world.  Their influence in the region through language and culture is still felt. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Documentary Review: Target Suribachi: Victory at Sea

This presentation in this series deals with one of the hardest confrontations the Marines had in WWII, the Battle of Iwo Jima.  At one time there were more Marines involved in this confrontation than any prior historical point.  Even so, this was one of the toughest fights of the war.  The Japanese were in numbers on the island, and they had catacombs throughout the island, and would rather die than surrender.  This made for a very difficult opponent.
However the island of Iwo Jima was key in saving lives later in the war.  Although Iwo Jima never became a regular base in the attacks on Tokyo, it was an emergency landing site, and was often used.  It is said this saved the lives of over 20,000 airmen.  
This is the only battle where the U.S. Marines sufferred more casualties than their enemy.  Over 26,000 total casualties and over 6000 dead.  On the other hand the Japanese had a force of 20,000 on the island, and only a bit more than 1000 survived the battle.  
The raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi is engrained in our minds by the photo taken by Joe Rosenthal.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Biography: Tecumseh: Shawnee Chief

Tecumseh was a Shawnee chief who hoped to unite the Native Americans in a confederation, and thereby be able to resist white advances.  He was a great leader and a great warrior, even from a young age.  Some believed he was a prophet  He predicted the coming of a lunar eclipse.  He also predicted an earthquake, and that as a result of the quake the Mississippi River would flow backwards saying that the time to unite and attack the whites would be when the trees fall and the earth trembles and rivers change their course.
He visited many tribes, and many joined with him.  He made himself an enemy to the American government.  He would encourage the Native Americans saying, "We will all be Indians, united together."  However not all tribes joined him.  When his authority began to wain, the eclipse happened as he said.  The governor of Indian territories hoping to kill him and destroy his power attacked his camp at Tippecanoe.  He was away but many were killed.  Again his power lessened.  However the earthquake also took place as he said, with rolling boulders and falling trees.  Some of the warriors came back to him, and thee joined the British in fighting the Americans in the War of 1812.  Tecumseh was killed in 1813.

Crossing the Plains in a Wind Wagon

Kansas was actually know to have wind wagons; although of course horse drawn animals were always more popular.  However, Kansas has an over abundance, and it was determined to take advantage of this.  Samual Peppard probably had the most success.  He was able to utilize the wind to travel.  He was headed to the Colorado gold mines, and made it at least as far as Fort Kearney, perhaps to Denver.  Another wind wagon arrived in Kansas from Westport, Missouri, traveling the Santa Fe trail.
This contraptions were usually small wagons, with a sail over the front axle.  However, some inventors also had the idea of arming the wagons with larger wheels, to better take advantage of the wind.
These wagons first arrived in Denver in 1860.  They really weren't practical  because they had difficulty getting through obstacles, as the tried to follow the wind.

Disney classic

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Biography: Captain Henry Wirz, Commander at Andersonville Prison

Biography: Captain Henry Wirz from the book The Good the Bad and the Mad, Weird People in American History, E. Randall Floyd, Harbor House Book Augusta, Georgia, 1999.

Captain Henry Wirz was the only confederate officer executed for war crimes.  He was the commander at Andersonville Prison; and whether someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, or complicit in his crimes is still open for debate. 
Wirz immigrated to Kentucky from Switzerland and Germany.  He was wounded in the right arm at Seven Pines, and his arm caused him pain and was mostly useless up until the time he died.  His wound made it so he could not perform on the battlefield, and he was assigned to prisoner of war camps. 
Andersonville was also known as Camp Sumter.  It was built to house 10,000 prisoners.  It existed for only fourteen months, and housed 45,000 total prisoners during that time, of whom 13,000 died.  The maximum at any one time was 32 thousand. 
Andersonville was a place where men lived in filth, the only supply of water was a creek running through camp, which was also the septic system.  There was not enough provisions for the number of men, and consequently many starved.  Shelter was also difficult to come by.  There were not sufficient tents, and those available were torn and worn.  Consequently they were subject to both sun and rain.
He was arrested after the war.  The general of prisons, General Winder, died of a heart attack, and was not available to be tried.  He was charged with two crimes, one of negligence—that he allowed conditions to be such that it was injurious to soldiers of war.  The other charge was that he murdered thirteen prisoners. 
The trial included one shocking story after another.  Prisoners had gone without food for days.  The food served was uncooked, and filled with bugs.  Sanitation of the camp was such that the stench could be smelled for miles. 
He was sentenced to hang.  He maintained his innocence.  He was killed November 10, 1865.

Book Review: The Creek: Native American Histories

The Creek: Native American Histories, by: Liz Sonneborn, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis, MN, 2007.
This is a very interesting history.  Original Creek towns had high walls for protection.  They built round houses, and a large hall which sometimes could hold up to 500 people.
In some ways the Creek people mirror the Cheyenne.  Their original territory was more along the coast of Georgia.  They had similar contacts with the White community.  The Northern Creek went to war against the United States, and lost a battle in which the Red Sticks (as the Northern Creek were called) were ambushed by Andrew Jackson and the U.S. troops.  Over 900 Red Stick Warriors were killed.  Their leader, William Weatherford was forced to surrender, and give up much nearly 23 million acres.
After this the Creek passed a law that whoever gave their land to the whites would be killed.  William McIntosh negotiated a treaty giving up land.  His home was surrounded and he was killed by other Creeks.  His brother lead his group of people to Oklahoma, Indian Country. 
Eventually all the Creek were forced to Indian Country, except a few which were liked by the white community.  In 1836 they had their own trip to Oklahoma, some walking, some in wagon, and some by boat. 
The Creek tried to adopt White ways.  But even after moving to Oklahoma they were not left alone.  The government forced an allotment program on them which further reduced their lands.  The Muscogee nation (their official language) now has about 70,000 people across the country.  They try to preserve their culture and language.  There is also a group of Creek in the Southeast of about 1000 who are newly recognized and have a reservation.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Documentary Review: * No End In Sight: Iraq's Descent Into Chaos

This documentary is about the occupation of Iraq after it was conquered.  The film makes the point that the conquest was too fast to allow those who would follow up could get organized.  I must admit, I did not enjoy this movie.  It just seemed like a bunch of whiners complaining about anything they could think of, and a lot of back chair quarterbacking going on.  I am sure Iraq is much better with out Saddam and his sons.  I guess some wanted the force to be twice as big, and to do more to stop looting.  I could not get to the end.  However, I must agree, the destruction of the national library, museum and archives was tragic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: Debunking 9/11 Myths: An In-depth investigation by Popular Mechanics

Foreward and afterward by James B. Meigs, Hearst Books, New York, 2011.  This is a very well researched and interesting book.  First off, who knew there were so many different conspiracy theories.  There is even a BYU physics professor Steven E. Jones, who is part of those making 9/11 accusations, and is convinces the World Trade Center had to be brought down by explosives.    Other theories is that there was a missile fired at the World Trade Center.  That the plane was a cargo plane.  That the destruction of building 7 must have been planted explosives.  That the pentagon was hit by a missile as well.  That there was a big cover-up with the passengers of all the planes being taken elsewhere.  And on and on.  There is an afterward written by James Meigs at the end, which explains the process of conspiracy theorists.  My only distaste form the book, is his comparison of conspiracy theorists to creationist.  I believe in creation, and feel there is as much evidence there as supporting evolution.  This book adequately debunks the myths surrounding 9/11.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Documentary Review: Thomas Jefferson: Ken Burns

This documentary of Thomas Jefferson, deals with Thomas Jefferson as the enigma.  How can someone write, "All men are created equal" and then own 300 slaves.  He did argue for emancipation of the slaves, and in fact this was included the the Declaration of Independence, but politics postponed any handling of the slavery issue, which kept being kicked down the road.  Jefferson was resolved to live with slavery and its consequences. 
The Declaration of Independence, which Jefferson wrote, is the document which defines us as a nation.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 
The other piece of controversy is whether or not Jefferson sired six children by his slave, Sally Hemings.  I guess the jury is still out on that question.  For shire they were sired by a Jefferson, but it may have been a brother rather then Thomas Jefferson himself. 
This documentary shows Jefferson's life which includes his mission as ambassador to France.  He was the first Secretary of State, where he was pitted against Alexander Hamilton.  He ran against the Federalist John Adams, losing the first time, but then becoming president the second.  As the third president he doubled the size of the United States by purchasing Louisiana from France.  He was a man interested in many things, but considered himself more a farmer than anything else.  Also reading and studying were very important to him, and this was a daily activity. 
50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on the same day.  This documentary is adequate, but a bit boring.  Thomas Jefferson was an intellectual man.

San Francisco Bay Shipwreck: City of Chester, San Jose Mercury News

This is a story from the San Jose Mercury News.  I had never heard of this shipwreck, or any shipwrecks in the Bay.  This article actually mentions three.  The City of Rio de Janeiro which sank in 1901 causing the most deaths, and the freighter Fernstream which sunk in 1952.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Documentary Review: Victory at Sea: The Fate of Europe

This is a documentary dealing with the latter part of WWII. It was originally shown by NBC News in 1953, and more recently by the History Channel.  This episode deals with the war in Europe, particularly with establishing second fronts with amphibious landings in both in Russia and France.  Sevastopol is an important Russian port on the Black Sea.  It had been taken over by Nazi Germany.  However the Russians were pushing the Nazis back, but in order to flank the Germans the landed an amphibious assault just below Sevastopol.  They were able to retake the peninsula. 
Also to create a second from in France an amphibious force landed in Southern France.  This force included Americans and French forces.  It marked the French Army returning to their own soil.  The invasion took place close to Cannes and Toulon.  They were able to liberate southern France in a couple of weeks. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Paraguay in Pictures, Alison Behnke,

Paraguay in Pictures, Alison Behnke, Visual Geography Series, Twenty-First Century Books, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN, 2010.
Paraguay is a country with no access to the sea, other than by several prominent rivers which provided river ports.  Paraguay has two official languages, Spanish and Guarani.  Most of the population is mestizo or mixed. 
The thing that comes through in a resounding way about the history of Paraguay is that they were subject to one dictator after another for many, many years.  Some of the dictators were very severe.  The most recent dictator, representing the Colorado (Red) party, Alfredo Stroessner ruled from 1954 until 1989.  He faced reelection many times, but usually these were rigged in his favor.  The presidency continued with the same party after his exile.  The first free election took place in 1993.  By free, all voters were allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice.  The first election which resulted in a peaceful change from one political party to another did not take place until 2008, after over 60 years of control by the Colorado Party. 
The other notable thing about Paraguay is a couple of wars.  They did not actively participate in the world wars, but had a war against the triple alliance (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) in 1866 which Paraguay was thwarted in an attempt to gain access to the sea.
Another war with Bolivia in the 1930s called the “Chaco War” over disputed territories and an attempt by Bolivia to gain access to the rivers which provide Paraguay with ports.  This war ended more favorably for Paraguay.  This wars however lead to the promotion of the military and in turn military dictatorships. 
Paraguay’s major resource is the production of electricity.  In 1981 the Itaupu dam was completed.  This is the second highest producing hydroelectric dam in the world.  99.9 percent of the electricity in Paraguay is hydroelectric power.   The dam was built with economic support from Brazil, and signified a period of economic growth in Paraguay which has not been maintained. 
One thing Paraguay has in common with Argentina is the use of Yerba Mate.  This would be considered the national drink.  

This book has some important information.  It also suggests a website


Book Review: Yokut: Native Americans by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh

Book Review: Yokut: Native Americans by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh, ABDO Publishing, Edina, MN, 2004.
This is a brief description of the Yokut Indians; which I find interesting as these are the native Americans who first inhabited the area where I now live.  In fact most of the San Joaquin Valley from the Mount Diablo Mountains to the Sierra Nevada foothills.  They were originally in 50 bands, but mostly in three distinct groups: Northern Valley, Southern Valley and Foothill Yokut.
They were known for their basketry kills.  They wove baskets so tight they would hold water.  Some were used to cook soup.  A hot rock from the fire would be placed in the basket to cook the soup.  Often they would make acorn soup.  The baskets would also e used to protect their children in times of flood.  They baby would be placed inside so he floated on top of the flood.
During the time the reigned the valley, there were many oak trees in the valley.  There were also tule bushes.  These bushes would be woven together to make a covering for their conical dwellings.  They would also make a ramada (a covered edifice with no walls to provide shade in the summer) with a frame and brush.  The tule would also be used to construct tule canoes with which they could travel on the river. 
After the Spanish came to the area, Cucunuchi went to stay at the missions.  They gave him a new name, Chief Estanislao.  He became disaffected with mission life, and took a group back to their native land.  He defeated two military expeditions sent to bring him back.  General Mariano Vallejo brought cannon to fight the Native Americans.  Vallejo claimed victory, but still the Indian people did not return to the mission.  (This battle took place close to Ripon.  I assume Stanislaus River and county get their names from Chief Estanislao. 
Today there are about 2000 Yokut remaining.  Their numbers were reduced by disease, as well as murder at the hands of white settlers.  They have one reservation and three rancherias in the Lemoore and Fresno areas.  This is an interested, albeit brief look at this group of people.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review: Exploring History through Simple Recipes: Civil War Cooking: The Union

Exploring History through Simple Recipes: Civil War Cooking: The Union
By: Susan Dosier, Blue Earth Books, Mankato, Minnesota, 2000
This is a bit different take on history.  I must admit, I have not yet tried any recipes, but I have copied a couple.  I want Sheri to make me some Johnny cakes, like a pancake with cornbread.  I also copied one of fried apples and for ld-fashioned macaroni and cheese.  Some of the others are pretty common like navy bean soup and cherry cobbler.  The accompanying text talks about some of the deprivations.  That in the far South foraging was common, taking fruits and vegetables and animals and eggs from the local population.  It also talks about hard tack, which was often wormy.  Even so, when you got hungry enough it was much sought after.  Rations usually tended to pork which could be salted and lasted longer than beef.  However, beef was often craved.  The Union camps often had sutlers attached, who may transport items some distance and then their prices would reflect this.  However you could supplement your rations with what would be available from these traveling stores. 
I am excited to try some of these recipes.