Monthly Archives: September 2011

The last word belongs to Lee, who always admired dash and daring. ‘Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him.’ Ramage’s Gray Ghost shows us why.

Gray Ghost : the life of Col. John Singleton Mosby      James A. Ramage  Soldiers Confederate States of America Biography, Mosby, John Singleton, 1833-1916  Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, c 1999 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. 428 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm. Map of Mosby’s Confederacy on end papers. Includes bibliographical references (p. [401]-405) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

This is the first comprehensive biography of the renowned Confederate guerilla fighter from Viginia’s eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge [Gray Ghost] tells the fascinating story of the leader who not only revolutionized the art of the night raid during the Civil War, but who set the precedent for exploiting the psychology of fear to gain essential victories. The first half emphasizes Mosby’s psychological impact on Federal forces, particularly frustrated commanders such as Phil Sheridan, and stresses the guerrilla commander’s contributions to Southern pride.

Confederate John Singleton Mosby forged his reputation on the most exhilarating of military activities: the overnight raid. Mosby possessed a genius for guerrilla and psychological warfare, taking control of the dark to make himself the “Gray Ghost” of Union nightmares. Gray Ghost, the first full biography of Confederate raider John Mosby, reveals new information on every aspect of Mosby’s life, providing the first analysis of his impact on the Civil War from the Union viewpoint.

Mosby achieved far greater fame during the Civil War than the vast majority of the military officers who outranked him. Ramage disentangles Mosby from a mass of myth and misinformation, reaching judicious conclusions that never exaggerate the Virginian’s role in shaping the conflict.

He was, like Lee, a consumate gentleman and a dedicated Southerner who after the Civil War worked with and supported national leaders. Sadly in the second half, the South turns its back on Mosby after the War for supporting Grant for president and the State Department tries to suppress his exposing of corruption among appointed officers serving in foreign embassies. A readable, comprehensive portrait of the 80-year life of a gifted, thoroughly combative man who – like most who served with him – was more dedicated to the American ideal than 90% of northern officers and 99.995% of northern politicians.

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In every way this is a book that does justice to the drama and complexity of the twentieth century’s first world war.

The Great War : perspectives on the First World War      edited by Robert Cowley  New York : Random House, c 2003, 2004  World War, 1914-1918 Historiography Book xvi, 509 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  Be sure and read the extended description at our head listing. VG

The great war—or the First World War, as most Americans call it—was the true turning point of the century just past. It brought down dynasties and empires, including the Ottoman — one of the roots of our present difficulties. It changed the United States from a bumptious provincial nation into a world power. It made World War II inevitable, and the Cold War as well. Above all, the Great War was history’s first total war, an armed conflict on a world stage between industrialized powers.

Robert Cowley has brought together the thirty articles in this book to examine that unnecessary but perhaps inevitable war in its diverse aspects. A number of the subjects covered here are not just unfamiliar but totally fresh. Who originated the term “no-man’s-land” and the word “tank”? What forgotten battles nearly destroyed the French Army in 1915? How did the discovery of a German naval codebook bring the United States into the war? What was the weapon that, for the first time, put a man-made object into the stratosphere?

The Great War takes a hard look at the legend of the “Massacre of the Innocents” at Ypres in 1914 — an event that became a cornerstone of Nazi mythology. It describes the Gallipoli campaign as it has never been described before — from the Turkish side. Brought to life as well are the horrors of naval warfare, as both British and German sailors experienced them at the Battle of Jutland; the near breakdown of the American commander, John H. Pershing; and the rarely told story of the British disaster on the Tigris River in what is now Iraq.

Michael Howard chronicles the summer of 1914 and the descent into a war that leaders were actually more afraid to avoid than to join. John Keegan writes about the muddy tragedy of Passchendaele in 1917. Jan Morris details the rise and fall of Sir John Fisher, whom she characterizes as the greatest British admiral since Nelson. Robert Cowley tells the haunting story of the artist Käthe Kollwitz, determined to create a memorial to her dead son.

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The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most accurst.

At the bottom of Dante’s Hell the space reserved for the worst – those who had betrayed – was the most horrible punishment that Hell had to offer and there is a tradition that goes all the way through our founding where treason is the only capital offense specifically mentioned. If the United States had emerged from the second World War as the sole guardian of nuclear weapons there might indeed have been a pax Americana rather than a fifty year stalemate followed by an age of sacred terror. That did not happen and although books like this are very instructive – not by any specific remedy imposed but rather by painting the milieu in which these events were allowed to happen – we sometimes wonder if the lack of remedy isn’t an attempt to explain and mitigate the heinous nature of the offense outlined. If we, as a nation, had learned anything from our dalliance with dictators there might be some redemption in the tale. We did not, we have not, we do not – a long way indeed from veni, vidi, vici!

Bombshell : the secret story of America’s unknown atomic spy conspiracy      Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel  Espionage  Manhattan Project (U.S.) History,  Hall, Theodore, 1925-  New York : Times Books, c 1997 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xv, 399 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [367]-375) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Ted Hall was a physics prodigy so gifted that he was asked to join the Manhattan Project when he was only eighteen years old.  There, in wartime Los Alamos, working under Robert Oppenheimer and Bruno Rossi, Hall helped build the atomic bomb.  To his friends and coworkers he was a brilliant young rebel with a boundless future in atomic science.  To his Soviet paymasters, he was something else: “Mlad,” their mole within Los Alamos, a most hidden and valuable asset and the man who first slipped them the secrets to the making of the atomic bomb.

In a book that will force the revision of fifty years of scholarship and reporting on the Cold War, Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel reveal for the first time a devastatingly effective Soviet spy network that infiltrated the Manhattan Project and ferried America’s top atomic secrets to Stalin.  At the heart of the network was Hall, who was so secret an operative that even Klaus Fuchs, his fellow Manhattan Project scientist and Soviet agent, had no idea they were comrades.  Bombshell tracks Hall from his days as a brilliant schoolboy in New York City, when he came under the influence of his older brother’s radical tracts, and on to Harvard, Los Alamos, and Chicago, where Hall continued to spy even after the war was over, passing more secrets while the Soviets were trying to build the Hydrogen bomb.

For forty years only a few Russians knew what Ted Hall really did.  Now Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel reveal the astonishing true story of the atomic spies who got away.  Bombshell is history at its most explosive.

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Believe me, a thousand friends suffice thee not; In a single enemy thou hast more than enough.

Forgotten allies : the Oneida Indians and the American revolution      Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin  Indians of North America History Revolution, 1775-1783  New York : Hill and Wang, 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 434 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [393]-403) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.   VG/VG

Tribal, violent, riven with fierce and competing loyalties, the American Revolution as told through the Oneida Indians, the only Iroquois Nation to side with the rebels, shatters the old story of a contest of ideas punctuated by premodern set-piece warfare pitting patriotic colonists against British Redcoats. With new detail and historical sweep, Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin offer a vivid account of the Revolution’s forgotten heroes, the allies who risked their land, their culture, and their lives to join in a war that gave birth to a new nation at the expense of their own.

Not only capturing for the first time the full sacrifice of the Oneida in securing American independence, Forgotten Allies also provides details and insights into Oneida culture and how it was shaped, changed, and molded throughout many years of contact with the American colonists. Above all else, it depicts the valor and determination of an Indian nation that fought with all the resolve of the rebels only to be erased from America’s collective memory. A long-overdue corrective, Forgotten Allies makes certain that the Oneidas’ story is finally told.

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With grave Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem’d A pillar of state; deep on his front engraven Deliberation sat, and public care; And princely counsel in his face yet shone, Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood.

If you read most of the histories of the Civil War you will find that the armies of the north were composed almost exclusively of men of sterling moral character leading the youth of the nation on a valiant, and long overdue, crusade against slavery. If they continue beyond the end of the war you will be treated to a lamentation of how they may have died in vain since we have failed to realize their dream of an America where everyone is free and equal.

The leaders of the South – if they are mentioned as anything other than the generic forces of darkness – have great pains taken to show that they are a cross between Simon Legree and the banjo player in Deliverance.

You would think that a people who pride themselves on discernment and who have elevated questioning authority to a near sacrament could not be misled by this sort of blatant disregard for the truth.

Both sides had armies that were full of men of great moral stature from private soldiers to generals. If anything the South probably had an advantage when it came to the officer corps and the north was only able to win by having an industrial society over run an agrarian society – just as has happened in every war since.

This book is not only a wonderful biography of a talented leader but it is also a wake up call for those of you who have been getting your history off a cereal box – or worse yet PBS – that you need to reexamine some of your most cherished myths and try to right the rudder on the ship of state before it is too late.

Richard Taylor, soldier prince of Dixie      T. Michael Parrish  Generals Confederate States of America Biography, Taylor, Richard, 1826-1879  Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c 1992 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiv, 553 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. [503]-537) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Using widely scattered and previously unknown primary sources, Parrish’s biography of Confederate general Richard Taylor presents him as one of the Civil War‘s most brilliant generals, eliciting strong performances from his troops in the face of manifold obstacles in three theaters of action.

Son of a president, plantation aristocrat, distinguished soldier, and author of an oft-quoted memoir, Richard Taylor epitomized much of what was the Southern Confederacy. Michael Parrish has not merely assembled a wealth of information on Taylor; in this long-needed biography, Parrish has as well caught the excitement and the achievements of Taylor as no previous writer ever has

Richard Taylor has long been a neglected Confederate hero. In Richard Taylor: Soldier Prince of Dixie, T. Michael Parrish at last gives Taylor his due. . . . This is good biography and fine military history. Especially valuable are the sections on Taylor’s service in the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy and his heroic efforts to sustain the South during the last months of war.

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