Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As if there weren't already a severe shortage of hours in the day

to read all the things that pique one's interest, the editors of The have opened the flood gates on a treasure trove of reading material from the magazine's archives. This is very exciting, and will cause me no end of trouble (thanks to friend Luke for tipping me off).

From the Editor's Note on January 22: "Beginning today, is dropping its subscriber registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors. Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches, slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded.

I love all the book reviews, and more access to the annual fiction issue. Check out the 2007 fiction issue here.
Civil War buffs, of course, can mine the archives for snippets going back to the war itself. Look at this "flashback" from February of 1862. And here's a page that contains links to several poems published during or soon after the Civil War years by such authors as Emerson, Whittier, and Longfellow.

I found this provocative essay/review by Christopher Hitchens on John Brown, "The Man Who Ended Slavery." "It was not at all the tear-jerking sentiment of Uncle Tom's Cabin that catalyzed the War Between the States. It was, rather, the blood-spilling intransigence of John Brown, field-tested on the pitiless Kansas prairies and later deployed at Harpers Ferry. And John Brown was a man whom Lincoln assiduously disowned, until the time came when he himself was compelled to adopt the policy of 'war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt,' as partisans of the slaveocracy had hitherto been too proud of saying."

Here is a fascinating piece on "Our Liberian Legacy," a subject that always gives me pause: "This is only the latest development in what has been a troubled and bloody history, and one in which the United States has been inextricably involved. Though Liberia was never a colony in the European sense of the word, it was settled by freed American slaves at the instigation of American slaveholders, and there has long been significant debate about what level of U.S. involvement in Liberian affairs is appropriate. What, indeed, is the United States' legacy in Liberia? And what, if anything, do Americans now owe Liberians? These questions are not new. Atlantic contributors have struggled with America's obligation to Liberia for three quarters of a century."

Did you know about the Colfax Riot, a "forgotten Reconstruction tragedy, in a forgotten corner of Louisiana"? I didn't. Check out this intriguing historically-oriented travel piece by Richard Rubin, who unexpectedly came across this marker:


On this site occurred the Colfax Riot in which
three white men and 150 negroes were slain.
This event on April 13, 1873 marked the end of
carpetbag misrule in the South.

Erected by the Louisiana Department of Commerce and Industry 1950

The author writes, "now, I'd studied the Civil War and Reconstruction quite extensively, and I'd never even heard of the Colfax Riot. Neither had the half dozen history professors and the dozen Louisianans from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria I'd asked about it since I'd first read that marker."

There's a lot to read. Better get cracking.


Jim Schmidt said...

Thanks for the great post on *Atlantic Monthly*! It definitely scratched my "itch" for studying modern institutions that can trace their roots to and before the Civil War.

Another period publication that is extremely interesting to look at is **Scientific American**

Keep up the great work,

Jim Schmidt

dw said...

Thanks Jim,

I imagine Scientific American is doubly strange, given the rapid advance of technology. I didn't know that was such an old publication.


jschmidt said...


Thanks for the reply...Sci Am is that old, indeed...I have a whole chapter about their role in the Civil War in my forthcoming book...shoot me a private e-mail (jschmidt at lexpharma dot com) and I'll send you a copy of my N&S article from Feb 2006 about Sci am.

All my Best,


Dixie Dawn said...

Thank you Dave, this is great news!! I've missed you, I do apologize for the lengthy absence, the dang doctors required my presence, but doing better now. Only one more hospital round to go in March then I will be giving it a good go on here again.

Most Respectfully
Dixie Dawn