Easy to read, faultlessly researched and masterfully written.

THE CHATFIELD STORY

: CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DIARIES OF PRIVATE EDWARD L. CHATFIELD OF THE 113TH ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS

The McCartys lay bare an improbable story of war, fortitude and survival during a little-known chapter of the American Civil War.

The Chatfield Story is a remarkable personal biography that sheds light on the inner workings of one lone Union private, but also illuminates the psyche of an entire generation. Authors McCarty meticulously annotate each letter and diary entry while providing background narrative before and after, so the reader has the fullest possible understanding of the history, events and the subject in question. Fortified with wartime maps, topographical charts and generous appendices, readers are fully armed and ready to take on this formidable lesson in human endurance, grit and determination. The book is the rare intimate biography that is historically compelling and dramatically satisfying. The story begins with Edward’s birth in Middlefield Township, Ohio, in 1842 and ends 24 years later at the close of the Civil War, following Chatfield through the Western Theater –Cairo, Memphis, Oxford, Holly Springs, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, DeSoto Point, Vicksburg, Corinth and other key battlegrounds. Well-known in Colorado, the Chatfield story has now come into the zeitgeist through the impeccable efforts of the authors, who have painstakingly researched and documented not only one man’s life, but also the coming-of-age of a nation during its darkest hour. Chatfield’s letters and diary punctuate a lively and dynamic telling of history that is as much an American story as it is a personal memoir. But the real value of this work is that it teaches U.S. history in an accessible, engrossing way. It delivers an entertaining, educational and wholly enjoyable excursion through our shared past and one remarkable life.

Easy to read, faultlessly researched and masterfully written.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4196-9722-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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