Have you ever read a John Bakeless book before? I highly recommend his work, because not only does he present well-researched information, but he was of the generation that knew how to write.
History comes alive under his fingers as he recounts stories of the brave and audaciou men and women who spied for the Confederacy.
In this volume, he covers the entirety of the war--from the opening days and the short-lived espionage of Mrs. Rose O'Neal Greenhow, to the mid-war exploits of a clever telegrapher who more than once carried on conversation with Union operators, garnering information before they realized he was not who he said he was--to the final push around Richmond.
There was a man named Conrad--he walked right under the noses of Yankee politician on a regular basis.
There was Belle Boyd, among other spirited ladies, who used their charms to collect information from young Federal soldiers.
There was youthful Sam Davis who died rather than betray any secrets and jepardize his fellow scouts.
Each chapter contains riviting stories of escapade and espionage in context of the greater picture of the war. We learn how the generals relied on their scouts (a common name even for those engaged primarily in spying) and how timely information can affect the outcome of a military movement.
John Bakeless' Spies of the Confederacy was originally published in 1970. I purchased my copy from a sutler at the Swannee River Raid reenactment in 2012. However, it is a Dover book, so if you are intersesting in obtaining a copy, that's a good place to do so.
A Modern Perspective of American Medical Care of Civil War Soldiers and African Slaves
This book, authored by RN Paulette Snoby, was interesting, though not the best written book I've ever read.
The somewhat choppy writing of the book does not detract from the information Ms. Snoby covers. She actually begins her telling long before the Civil War with Revolutionary War medicine. She discusses hospital, medical theories, innovations, experiments, common diseases, etc.
The first four chapters cover Antebellum medicine--primarily for whites.
The fifth through seventh chapters concern the Negro medicine--both plantation care and otherwise. (It is here that I had one particular caveat...even while in the midst of describing the care that the slave-owners took of their slaves, she simultaneously adheres to the common myth that slave-owners tended to be uncaring of their slaves bodies and well being. There is a bit of dichotomy here.)
The eighth chapter covers the soldier's medical care during the war while the ninth, and final, chapter sums up the advances and the sometimes accidental breakthroughs made during the war in the medical field.
All in all, I would not hesitate to recommend this book as a brief overview of the period's medical system.
The Chatham Rats by David Mariner (1969) was an interesting, plunging, hair-raising espionage tale.
It starts out kind of slow--only it's not really slow. It's more the fact that you know no more than the characters, or less actually, and so it's a bit confusing for the first couple of chapters. The story itself, told in third person, but with one main character and about three other sub-main-characters who most of the action is focused around, is intriguing, baffling, and highly terrifying if you were actually there.
Set in the Mediterranean in June of 1941, the entire story covers less than a week in the life of the crew of the ship H.M.S. Wildcat. (Perhaps I ought to add here that the author is British.) Following is the blurb from the inner cover:
They deliberately betrayed the British Mediterranean Fleet, fought a tragic action with unwitting British destroyers, defied the might of the Luftwaffe, the Italian High Command, the Prussian Gestapo, even a crack Wehrmacht paratroop regiment, and all to buy two years of time. They were called the Chatham rats. They wore Italian uniforms, carried cyanide capsules, fought secretly with a fast Italian destroyer they had captured during the Battle of Matapan, and they had one aim - to find and exterminate the men who designed the first guided missile in history - the radio-controlled marine glider bomb.
I had one main issue with the book: language. While definitely not as dicey as it could have been, there was just enough of it for me to really notice. I was able frequently enough to see it coming and kind of skip it, but I still would put a warning out there.
I would also like to allude to certain sexual references that really were not necessary, though, I don't suppose, are entirely unrealistic for a group of fighting men. Also, I would not say that the worldview was overly Christian though there was no denial of God as of such--but then again, even full-blown modern British television still has an element of cultural acknowledgement of God.
Overall then, I enjoyed the story, but would not say, "Y'all! You just have to read this here book!" Particularly since it is a fictional tale...
Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service by H.H. Cunningham
I had no idea when I pulled this book off my "War Between the States" bookshelf what kind of a read it was going to be. I was therefore delighted to find that it was not dull and boring. The author has an engaging writing style and covers what could be an extremely dull topic in an interesting fashion. One aspect that I particularly liked was his use of first person accounts to add a little more context to things.
Granted, there were times I said to myself, "I think I need a medical dictionary!" or "What on earth is that? I need to look that up..."
He covered the formation of the Confederate Medical Service, including hospitals and how and by whom they were run. In addition, topics like prevalent diseases and their common treatments, surgery, and the means of supply procurement are covered.
Each chapter is written almost like a separate essay and there are a handful of illustrations.
All in all, I thought it a good book and would recommend it to any reenactor desirous of getting into the medical scene at Civil War reenactments (Surgeons, stewards, nurses, etc.) as it gives an easy-to-read background to the entire field. I found that it prompted ideas for further research and I think I shall keep it fairly handy for quick reference. (It also has an extensive bibliography which certainly may serve to be of use for further study.)
I picked up my slightly cigarette-smoke odored copy at a yard-sale several years back (along with a stack of other WBtS's related tomes), but a quick search of the internet reveals a variety of places at which to purchase it.
It took me forever to read this fairly slim volume, but due to my Lyme/Mold induced concentration issues not the dullness of the book.
Rev. J.L. Underwood's The Women of the Confederacy is a most interesting book. I would actually classify it as a compilation for the majority of the short articles and stories were actually originally written for various publications and many by persons other than Rev. Underwood.
The purpose of the book was to extoll the virtues of the Southern women, as well as give some historical background and some insight into the cause to which they sacrificed so much. I think that the purpose was executed quite well.
I would certainly recommend this book for those interested in War Between the States history. I got my copy from Sprinkle Publications a few years back at conference prices, but I have also discovered it here on Project Gutenburg.
I was browsing one of my favorite internet "haunts" (CivilWarTalk.com). In a particular thread, one person linked to this 1838 equestrian manual. I decided to read it out of curiosity as I have always wondered how on earth women stayed on horseback side-saddle. In addition, I wondered how the horse terminology might have shifted in the last 180 years.
I read it and quite enjoyed it. In addition to the ever so classy writing style, there are charming line drawings throughout. While not giving so much information to be a treatise, it covers ins and outs of riding and deportment on horseback. I found myself mentally acting out the seat and the hold of the rein in order to fully understand what was under discussion.
By the time I finished reading the manual, I decided that side-saddle is probably not as terrifying as I previously thought. I also came away convinced that persons of a previous century really took more care and notice of how one looks while engaged in an activity and not just how well one executes said activity.
Burke Davis' 1957 biography on Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart was a fantastic read.
Mr. Davis quotes extensively from first hand accounts of Stuart's life, some of whom were as colorful themselves as was the general. The writing style is highly engaging and keeps one turning the pages.
Through this book, I got a picture of JEB Stuart as a man who was extremely quick on his feet--both in battle and in wit. He had a tremendous sense of humor as these short excepts will demonstrate:
In one skirmish Stuart's troopers captured a Federal captain and took him to headquarters, where Jeb questioned him:
There are multitude of other short one-liners of similar sort that left me laughing and wondering how anyone can be so quick on their feet.
Stuart, for all his flirtation with pretty young ladies, was completely devoted to his wife and children.
Most importantly, the general was a man of firm Christian faith--a faith which rivaled that of Stonewall Jackson and Lee. He was fearless in battle for he confessed that no harm would befall him unless such was God's will.
These are a few of the observations I came away with concerning the man himself.
Mr. Davis naturally spends a deal of time on the actual conflicts that Stuart was engaged in, but never do they become dull or boring. He keeps the reader attached to the narrative...I appreciate how he draws from multiple sources, both Confederate and Union, for different views and perceptions of events. If I am allowed a rabbit trail here, I find it highly amusing at times the vast discrepancies between Southern and Northern battle reports. Both sides frequently claim the victory and tell of the foe's flight and disorganization as though the other were mere cowards. Interesting, but not necessarily surprising, I suppose.
All in all, I would recommend the book; it seems to me to be a very level-headed account, written by a man who perhaps had Southern sympathies (I never could quite tell). Because I enjoyed this one so well, I look forward to reading Burke Davis' biography of General R.E. Lee (which I was recently delighted to find amongst some books I had packed away).
"With a Pelham on each flank, I think I could whip the world." ~~ General "Stonewall" Jackson's tribute to the gallant chief of J.E.B. Stuart's Horse Artillery.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for multiple reasons: 1) it is self-consciously Christian; 2) it's about a Confederate hero whom I knew nothing about; 3) it has to do with artillery. I have a 'thing' for artillery, frightening as it would be to be in front of it in action.
As I mentioned above, I had never heard of "The Gallant Pelham", so I learned quite a bit. In addition to that, this educational book gave me a greater insight into particular aspects of the campaigning in Virginia from 1861 to early-1863.
My only "complaint" with the book might that the writing style is somewhat choppy--however, as that does not detract from the quality of the information, I really will not complain about it. A child could read this book without getting lost and bogged down in technical details. It's clear and while somewhat rambly, quite an interesting read.
I found, as I read, that I was drawn to the noble character of Major John Pelham--who was, by all accounts, as calm and fearless in battle as Stonewall Jackson himself.
So, if you do not have this one on your shelf and you have an interest in War Between the States history...or even just artillery geniuses, I recommend getting it!
By Dorothy Sayers (and Robert Eustace); originally published 1930.
I do not usually write reviews of the mysteries I read (partly because I do not quite know how one reviews a mystery), but I thought I might be able to do one on this particular story.
Anyway, this is, of course, a murder mystery. It is written as though one is reading the compilation of documents that one party sent to another. It's really a rather fascinating techinque because you get mulitple angles of the same incidents and at times they are thoroughly contradicting.
Without giving any details on the story, I wanted to mention an underlying subject (one might call it theme) that is brought up time and time again through it--the question "What is life?" It is never really answered, but you get several different attempts at answers from men ranging from churchmen to chemists and other scientists. In fact, I got thoroughly lost in one particular conversation.
Which brings up another point...I find this more probably in Sayers books than I do, say in Agatha Christie's, but with these (primarily) British mystery writers in the late 1920's-'40's, I find that my rough knowledge of "modern" philosophy comes in handy. There are things that I would completely miss if I didn't know just a little about it.
Suffice to say, it was an interesting read, one of the most unique set-ups I have ever observed in a mystery, and I am happy to say, justice was served in the end. Not 'poetical' justice, but real justice. I would recommend it to fellow mystery enthusiasts .
By Lee Duigon
Right up front, I want to say that I believe that there is going to be more...I have read Books 1-5 and at the end of Book 5, I stated emphatically to myself: "That is not the end of the story..."
Bell Mountain, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, The Thunder King, The Last Banquet, and The Fugitive Prince are by far some of the best children's fantasy around. Written by Lee Duigon, these books definitely held my attention (and caused some amused snickers and giggles).
One of the most fascinating things about the series is that you can see how Mr. Duigon drew from biblical history, as well as the history of the Reformation, (and history in general) in crafting this tale. While not exactly paralleling Scripture and history, and most certainly not an allogory, the story is one that teaches truth about God and man.
I don't know how exactly to cram five books into a paragraph or two without giving away the plot...but I'll try to give you an idea of the story.
It seems hair-brained and crazy when a couple of kids head out across land they have never been across to follow a boy's dream--a dream that scares the daylights out of him, but simply will not give him any peace. This action and the subsequent consquences unleash something like man in Obann has never seen before.
Strange, giant animals roam the world...
The Heathens across the mountains are mobilizing under a solitary commander...
The Temple is corrupt at it's heart...
And Jack and Ellyane are having wild adventures--which culminate in a world changing moment.
From there, the rest of the series roars to life and by the end of The Fugitive Prince, I knew more was coming because of certain foreshadowings that were not fulfilled. (Needless to say, I look forward to more!)
The writing style is easy reading (after all, these are children's books)...if I had any complaint with it, it would be that Mr. Duigon reiterates certain facts multiple times per book. Even then, it isn't much of a problem.
My favorite character is probably Helki...a big man with a crazy patch-work coat...but I won't say more for fear of spoiling your introduction to him!
I definitely recommend these books!
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol'
Note: All images picked up online. No copyright infringment intended.