Monthly Archives: March 2011

It was of little consolation to those forced to endure the pogrom of reconstruction…………

……………….and of even less to those casualties of battles lost but here is the academic apology for blunders and miscalculations that killed more then half a million Americans.

 

Civil War generals in defeat edited by Steven E. Woodworth Military art and science United States History 19th century Case studies Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c 1999 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. viii, 240 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Commanders who serve on the losing side of a battle, campaign, or war are often harshly viewed by posterity. Labeled as mere “losers,” they go unrecognized for their very real abilities and achievements in other engagements. The writers in this volume challenge such simplistic notions.

By looking more closely at Civil War generals who have borne the stigma of failure, these authors reject the reductionist view that significant defeats were due simply to poor generalship. Analyzing men who might be considered “capable failures” – officers of high prewar reputation, some with distinguished records in the Civil War – they examine the various reasons these men suffered defeat, whether flaws of character, errors of judgment, lack of preparation, or circumstances beyond their control.

These seven case studies consider Confederate and Union generals evenhandedly. They show how Albert Sidney Johnston failed in the face of extreme conditions and inadequate support, how Joe Hooker and John C. Pemberton were outmatched in confrontations with Lee and Grant, how George B. McClellan in the Peninsula Campaign and Don Carlos Buell at Chattanooga faced political as well as military complications, and how Joseph E. Johnston failed to adapt to challenges in Virginia. An additional chapter looks at generals from both sides at the Battle of Gettysburg, showing how failure to adjust to circumstances can thwart even the most seasoned leader’s expectations.

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The Siege of Mecca reveals how Saudi reaction to the uprising in Mecca set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11, and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.

The siege of Mecca : the forgotten uprising in Islam’s holiest shrine and the birth of al Qaeda Yaroslav Trofimov Mecca (Saudi Arabia) History Siege, 1979 London : Allen Lane, 2007 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xii, 301 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [265]-289) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in   text. VG/VG

On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. The same morning — the first of a new Muslim century — hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam’s holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Armed with rifles that they had smuggled inside coffins, these men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times. Led by a Saudi preacher named Juhayman al Uteybi, they believed that the Saudi royal family had become a craven servant of American infidels, and sought a return to the glory of uncompromising Islam. With nearly 100,000 worshippers trapped inside the holy compound, Mecca’s bloody siege lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths.

Despite U.S. assistance, the Saudi royal family proved haplessly incapable of dislodging the occupier, whose ranks included American converts to Islam. In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini blamed the Great Satan —the United States — for defiling the shrine, prompting mobs to storm and torch American embassies in Pakistan and Libya. The desperate Saudis finally enlisted the help of French commandos led by tough-as-nails Captain Paul Barril, who prepared the final assault and supplied poison gas that knocked out the insurgents. Though most captured gunmen were quickly beheaded, the Saudi royal family responded to this unprecedented challenge by compromising with the rebels’ supporters among the kingdom’s most senior clerics, helping them nurture and export Juhayman’s violent brand of Islam around the world.

This dramatic and immensely consequential story was barely covered in the press in the pre-CNN, pre–Al Jazeera days, as Saudi Arabia imposed an information blackout and kept foreign correspondents away. Yaroslav Trofimov now penetrates this veil of silence, interviewing for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, including former terrorists, and drawing on hundreds of documents that had been declassified on his request. Written with the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals how Saudi reaction to the uprising in Mecca set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11, and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.

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“I have all my life been considering distant effects and always sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future… Frederick Law Olmsted

…………this, not the contrivance of clapboard, nor the stacking of stones, is architecture as art…………………..

 

A clearing in the distance : Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the nineteenth century Witold Rybczynski Landscape architecture United States History 19th century, Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903 New York : Scribner, c 1999 Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. 480 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 429-460) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In a brilliant collaboration between writer and subject, the bestselling author of Home and City Life illuminates Frederick Law Olmsted’s role as a major cultural figure and a man at the epicenter of nineteenth-century American history.

We know Olmsted through the physical legacy of his stunning landscapes — among them, New York’s Central Park, California’s Stanford University campus, Boston’s Back Bay Fens, Illinois’s Riverside community, Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, and Louisville’s park system. He was a landscape architect before that profession was founded, designed the first large suburban community in the United States, foresaw the need for national parks, and devised one of the country’s first regional plans.

Olmsted’s contemporaries knew a man of even more extraordinarily diverse talents. Born in 1822, he traveled to China on a merchant ship at the age of twenty-one. He cofounded The Nation magazine and was an early voice against slavery. He wrote books about the South and about his exploration of the Texas frontier. He managed California’s largest gold mine and, during the Civil War, served as general secretary to the United States Sanitary Commission, the precursor of the Red Cross.

Olmsted was both ruthlessly pragmatic and a visionary. To create Central Park, he managed thousands of employees who moved millions of cubic yards of stone and earth and planted over 300,000 trees and shrubs. In laying it out, “we determined to think of no results to be realized in less than forty years,” he told his son, Rick. “I have all my life been considering distant effects and always sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future.” To this day, Olmsted’s ideas about people, nature, and society are expressed across the nation — above all, in his parks, so essential to the civilized life of our cities.

Rybczynski’s passion for his subject and his understanding of Olmsted’s immense complexity and accomplishments make this book a triumphant work. In A Clearing in the Distance, the story of a great nineteenth-century American becomes an intellectual adventure.

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Variations on a complicated theme, stated, much too simply, by John Steinbeck: “I guess the truth is that I simply like junk.”

Collecting : an unruly passion : psychological perspectives Werner Muensterberger Collectors and collecting Psychological aspects Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c 1994 Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. xi, 295 p., [12] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-288) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

From rare books, valuable sculpture and paintings, the relics of saints, and porcelain and other precious items, through stamps, textiles, military ribbons, and shells, to baseball cards, teddy bears, and mugs, an amazing variety of objects have engaged and even obsessed collectors through the ages. With this captivating book the psychoanalyst Werner Muensterberger provides the first extensive psychological examination of the emotional sources of the never-ending longing for yet another collectible. Muensterberger’s roster of driven acquisition-hunters includes the dedicated, the serious, and the infatuated, whose chronic restlessness can be curbed–and then merely temporarily–only by purchasing, discovering, receiving, or even stealing a new “find.” In an easy, conversational style, the author discusses the eccentricities of heads of state, literary figures, artists, and psychoanalytic patients, all possessed by a need for magic relief from despair and helplessness–and for the self-healing implied in the phrase “I can’t live without it!” The sketches here are diverse indeed: Walter Benjamin, Mario Praz, Catherine the Great, Poggio Bracciolini, Brunelleschi, and Jean de Berry, among others.

The central part of the work explores in detail the personal circumstances and life history of three individuals: a contemporary collector, Martin G the celebrated British book and manuscript collector Sir Thomas Phillipps, who wanted one copy of every book in the world and the great French novelist Honore de Balzac, a compulsive collector of bric-a-brac who expressed his empathy for the acquisitive passions of his collector protagonist in Cousin Pons. In addition, Muensterberger takes the reader on a charming tour of collecting in the Renaissance and looks at collecting during the Golden Age of Holland, in the seventeenth century. Throughout, we enjoy the author’s elegant variations on a complicated theme, stated, much too simply, by John Steinbeck: “I guess the truth is that I simply like junk.”

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With great brio and insight — and a delight in bad behavior — Thomas Keneally has brought to light a tale of American history that resonates with uncomfortable truths about our politics, ethics, and morality.

American scoundrel : the life of the notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles Thomas Keneally Generals United States Biography, Sickles, Daniel Edgar, 1819-1914 New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2002 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xii, 397 p. ; 24 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On the last Sunday of February 1859, Dan Sickles, a charming young congressman from New York, murdered his good friend Philip Barton Key (son of Francis Scott Key)– who was also his wife’s lover – in Washington’s Lafayette Square. The shooting took place directly across the street from the White House, the home of Sickles’s friend and protector, President James Buchanan. Sickles turned himself in; political friends in New York’s Tammany Hall machinery, including the dynamic criminal lawyer James Brady, quickly gathered around. While his beautiful young wife was banned from public life and shunned by society, Dan Sickles was acquitted.

American Scoundrel is the extraordinary story of this powerful mid-nineteenth century politician and inveterate womanizer, whose irresistible charms and rock-solid connections not only allowed him to get away with murder — literally — but also paved the way to a stunning career.

Once free to resume his life, Dan Sickles raised a regiment for the Union political elite and went on to become a general in the army, rising to the rank of brigadier general and commanding a flank at the Battle of Gettysburg in a maneuver so controversial it is still argued over by scholars today. After losing a leg in that battle, Sickles fought on and after the war became military governor of South Carolina, and later was named minister to Spain, where he continued astonishingly to conduct his amorous assignations.

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