Tuesday, September 15, 2015
A horse is a horse, of course...
One of the benefits of a semi-classical education is that you can find in the ancients metaphors for our times.
Anyway. My family is well and the books are still being indexed. A lot of Civil War-era reading of late, spurred by an excellent Teaching Company course on Lincoln's rhetoric. I finished an excellent biography of Grant, a solid-if-imperfect biography of Sheridan and a where-was-your-editor biography of Lincoln.
If you want to know about the run-up to the Civil War, you will never do better than this masterwork by the late David Potter. In addition to being a superb historian, he was also an excellent, sometimes even puckish, prose stylist. Discussing the horrific flare-up (and almost-as-rapid flame-out) of nativism in the mid-1850s, he describes the risible Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk as "the Uncle Tom's Cabin of nativism."
That might sound bad except that Potter forthrightly states that the titanic success of Uncle Tom's Cabin has nothing to do with that book's decidedly modest literary merits. I'm not quite done with The Impending Crisis yet, but it is utterly superb so far, quite worthy of the Pulitzer it won (sadly for Potter, posthumously).