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Gallagher also attempts to rebuild the reputation of Early destroyed by his defeat in his campaign in the Valley. In doing so, Gallagher explains that a comparison between Early's lack of success and the success in the valley of "Stonewall" Jackson is inappropriate. Early inflicted as many casualties as he could on the forces opposing him, however he was faced with superior generals on the Union side than most of those that faced Jackson. In essance, Gallagher explains that Jackson's success must at least in part be attributed to the fact that he faced incompitent opponents, and Early did not.
There are a couple drawbacks to this book, and while they don't detract from the individual essays, they do detract a bit from the book in its entirety. First, much of the first third of the book, particularly the essays, "The Idol of His Soldiers and the Hope of His Country: Lee and the Confederate People" and "If the Enemy Is There, We Must Attack Him: Lee and the Second Day at Gettysburg" address larger issues than just Lee and his generals, they both seem to me they would have been more appropriately included in Gallagher's work "Lee and His Soldiers."
While the section on the "Lost Cause" and Jubal Early is very interesting, it also seems that it's misplaced in this book. It seems that it should belong in Gallagher and Nolan's book on the lost cause.
The last section in the book on "historical memory" which includes essays on Ken Burn's miniseries "The Civil War" as well as battlefields, seems also to be out of place in this book.
I'm not sure why Gallagher chose to title this work "Lee and His Generals in War and Memory" when so few of the essays included deal directly with the relationship between Lee and his lieutenants.
Another drawback is that the book doesn't have an epologue that attempts in any way to tie each essay together in a larger framework. Absent this, it really lacks a central focus as a book.
I really enjoyed this book because it offers so much fresh material on many popular Civil War leaders, and topics (like Ken Burns video collection). Also, I think that Gary Gallagher brings a very balanced approach to his research and analysis. In other words, I trust his opinion because he always supports his thoughts with detailed research from the latest sources available. Therefore, he can successfully weave together both the battles and politics of the war, and paint accurate pictures of the Southern leaders discussed in this book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a fundamental understanding of the Civil War, and is looking for resources to develop a deeper analysis of this complex war. Learn from someone who is at the forefront of current research, and willing to put in the extra time and effort to get the story right.
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I'm disappointed too in the general trend for many historians to ever search and highlight as much negative as they can about our historical figures, especially military leaders.
It's easy to second guess and use modern beliefs to define the past. Blount (or anyone else for that matter go lead men in battle for four years) and then write your book.
No, these books -- essays, almost -- are introductions to, surveys of, key historical figures. The question shouldn't be, Did Blount give us all the answers about Lee? but rather, Has Blount painted a sharp enough portrait that we have a clear idea of who the man was, why he did what he did, and what impact his life had? I think the answer to that latter question is a decisive Yes.
Unlike Keegan and Johnson, Blount is not a professional historian. But he's done a fine job with a subject all biographers admit to be a man very difficult to get close to. This fact in itself forms part of Blount's theme, as he explores the roots of Lee's famous reserve and inapproachability. He largely avoids pop psychoanalysis -- when he wades into those waters, he tells us he's doing so -- and his insights seem to make sense.
I particularly appreciated the way Blount addressed the issue that defines (many, if not most) modern treatments of Lee: the question of whether he can justly be called a Great Man while having fought, if not explicitly for slavery itself, at least for a nation and a culture in which slavery played a central role. The fact that Blount sees nuances to the discussion, instead of making the absolute, unarguable, definitive statement "Lee = slavery = evil", may cause ideologues, or people who just don't know any better, to reject his reasonings entirely. But that would be their loss because this section, too, is rewarding reading.
I said this book is good pure biography. That's because Blount is an excellent writer and storyteller, as well as a fine presenter and interpreter of facts. As a "humorist," (I've always hated that term), he has a keen eye for the ridiculous, both in human behavior and in historians' more labored interpretations.
So, no, this isn't a scholarly, definitive, biography that will become the new gold standard in Civil War Studies. But as a highly readable thumbnail portrait of one of the most loved and reviled, admired, misunderstood, and dare I say, greatest, figures in American history, I think it will be hard to beat.
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Central to this theory on the assassination was the role Kennedy played in overthrowing the Diem administration. The authors feel that the South Vietnamese government's repressive policies against the Buddhist population, indirectly assisted with massive U.S. aid packages, threatened to undermine Kennedy's credibility with the American public. With a presidential race coming up in 1964, Kennedy did not want questions about self-immolating monks to throw a cloud on his reelection prospects. Numerous documents in the book attempt to prove Kennedy's complicity in the regime change, a change that O'Leary and Lee argue led to permanent instability in South Vietnam that created problems later in the Vietnam War. Furthermore, the authors charge that the South Vietnamese knew about the planned coup and took their own measures to prevent it. These plans revolved around setting up a plot against Kennedy by using muscle from the French heroin traffickers because these drug smugglers knew that a change in government could be very costly to their lucrative business.
The key name associated with this theory is a shadowy figure named Jean Rene Souetre, a former French military officer who was a member in the OAS. This acronym stands for 'Organisation de l'Armee Secrete,' a group of French military officers who resisted Charles DeGaulle's measures to remove French influence in Algeria. The OAS resorted to covert assassinations, forgery, and outright rebellion in an attempt to overthrow DeGaulle's government, thereby hoping to insure support for the war against Algerian insurgents. An alliance between the French intelligence agency (SDECE) and the French mafia crushed the OAS, sending its members into exile or jail. A document exists, recently declassified, that seems to prove Souetre was in Texas at the time of the assassination. Moreover, the government deported Souetre within days of the killing without interrogating him even though the feds seemed to be aware of his background because of a French request to our government concerning his whereabouts. An American dentist mentioned in the Souetre memo granted an interview to a researcher years later, claiming that he knew Souetre and that the FBI questioned him about this knowledge but never turned the information over to the Warren Commission.
Assassination solved, right? Nope. The two authors claim that the real Souetre may not have committed the crime. Instead, they point the finger at Michel Mertz, a heroin trafficker who possibly traveled under the name of Jean Rene Souetre. The two Frenchman met in prison during the OAS debacle when Mertz was one of the undercover mafia hoods that worked for SDECE. Further evidence of a Souetre/Mertz connection appears in the memo, where one of Souetre's aliases was, *gasp*, Michel Mertz. In an interview conducted in the late 1990s, Souetre claimed he knew Mertz and believed it highly possible that this mafia thug traveled under his name. What a surprise.
I had many problems with this book, the biggest one being the introductory chapter full of laudatory praise for the Kennedy administration. Falling for the bait many others have swallowed about the Kennedy years, the authors present a glowing picture of our esteemed 35th president. Reality is often more painful. Kennedy's civil rights legislation was not an outpouring of warmth for the plight of American blacks, but a political measure Kennedy took because of intense pressure. On their own, the Kennedy brothers would never have proposed serious legislation concerning civil rights. Moreover, Kennedy's failure to follow through on the Bay of Pigs led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the removal of our missiles from Turkey at a critical moment in our war against world wide communism. The family background, Joseph Kennedy's vote buying scheme in Illinois, and numerous amorous encounters in the White House should also serve as reasons why Kennedy was not a great president. The media, even then, was too busy standing around with stars in their eyes to notice any of these shenanigans. If I cannot trust the authors' claims about the Kennedy presidency, how can I trust their subsequent investigations?
An avid reader of Kennedy conspiracy theories will probably want to read this book. Whether or not the arguments presented here hold water I'll leave to those better informed about the various assassination theories. I do think the authors make some huge leaps of faith with some of their claims, but with the assassination quickly fading into the dim recesses of history this is probably unavoidable. What interests me most about the Kennedy killing is how many sordid characters hovered on the periphery of Dallas at that exact time and date. At the very least, "The Death of the Cold War Kings" adds a few more unsavory souls to the long list.
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As a person that has read quite a few of Edward Lee's books, I was actually surprised by what Ghouls brought to the proverbial table because it wasn't the atypical piece that he manufactures. First, the writing structure seemed more refined and the descriptions were laid-out better than some of his more horrific works, letting the town of Tylersville actually come to life around you as events began to manifest. Instead of faceless entities being lead to wholesale slaughter, the people therein became something denoted with a bit of realism that made them stand out. They, brimming with hopes and dreams and desires, befriended some people, playing wording games and delving into pits of small talk with them, while equally hating others. This made you feel a little something for them when the night came for them or when their friends died, and it gave you rhymes and reasons instead of a lack of dimensions. Second, the layout of the monsters themselves, although not used nearly enough to quench my thirst for abominations, was actually researched and backgrounding was given on the matter. The queries of "how" were answered as well as "what," not leaving so many question marks to plague the mind of the reader when all was said and done. Third, we do have elements of Lee that are mainstays, with evisceration going hand-in-hand with passion and pretexts of "rural subclassification" and making the read fun. Granted, it does take time to get to bodies dropping like flies, but when they come, they come with wings. Lastly, the length of the book let him delve into all type of subjects that Lee wanted to cover. Too often, he seems rushed, with the book passing by and the reader wanting even more. While I still wanted more when the book ended, I thought that the 440 plus pages (in rather small print) said what needed to be said and covered many grounds - even some of them almost seemingly mundane but working to flesh out the characters.
For anyone that likes Lee's newer works, then the monster type in the book might work well for you. You simply have to bear in mind that the pages don't run with blood immediately, nor do things manifest as quickly as some of the other books do. Here, time is taken and people are developed, giving more to the grounds when they are fed the remains of the living. For anyone that hasn't checked out Lee, I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point, but I would say that it would be something to check out if the chance presents itself.
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Edwards refers to Stalinfs terror,the Ukrainian famine which claimed up to 6 million lives and the Chinese famines of 1958-61, with an alleged death toll of 25-40 million which constitute a sizeable portion of the 100 million corpses he attributes, correctly,to totalitarian Communism.
In his condemnation of Communism, Edwards makes no reference to the authoritative work of economist Amartya Sen, whose comparison of the Chinese famine to the record of democratic India received much attention when he won the Nobel Prize a few years ago.
Sen observed that India and China had "similarities that were quite striking" when development planning began 50 years ago, including death rates. "But there is little doubt that as far as morbidity, mortality and longevity are concerned, China has a large and decisive lead over India.h Sen estimates the excess of mortality in India over China to be close to 4 million a year: "India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame," 1958-1961.
Using the same accounting methods as Edwards, it is reasonable to conclude that in India democratic capitalism since 1947 has caused more deaths than in the entire history of Communism everywhere since 1917: over 100 million deaths by 1979, tens of millions more since, in India alone.
As a chronicle of humanities capacity to murder and maim in pursuit of utopia, this book tells only half the story and as such provides the reader with a highly skewed, biased interpretation of history.
I could understand the prior reviewer's complaint if China had really been ECONOMICALLY Communist since the 1970s, but the comparative benefits vis a vis India are attributable to the actual workings of Capitalism in China despite the name up front. Of course, politically China is still as totalitarian as ever. One is reminded of Milton Friedman's analysis of India; its own problem is too much statism regardless of name.
The best analysis is of the total losses in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Why doesn't the prior reviewer compare, say, East and West Germany, or the Ukraine and Iowa?
Overall, this volume is more than worth having.
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I've also tutored students who are using this book at UC Berkeley as the main class textbook. They have a difficult time understanding the book as well. If you want a good introduction to Signals and Systems, get "Signals and Systems" by Haykin and Van Veen instead of this book. That book does a much better job covering the topic and goes more in depth to cover advanced topics such as wavelets and z-transforms.
The book provides a broad view of the subject and allows to feel the flavor of applications. It gives an overview of typical engineering problems involving signals and systems and indicates essential mathematical techniques for modeling them. Using these tools the authors present a coherent theory as a basis for engineering design.
The book is written in clear language thus making the subject, which is not simple, easy to understand. It is perfectly suitable for an inquisitive freshman who is willing to master the material by going through numerous examples and exercises. There is also a website, which provides access to additional tutorials, labs, interactive examples and useful links.
The scope of the book is such that there is hardly anything to add or delete, although, I believe it would certainly benefit from adding "further reading" sections at the end of each chapter.
Although, I am not a freshman but an engineer, I love this book, because it helped me to feel the joy of dealing with signals and systems and gave me a broader vision of the subject.
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Many aspects of this novel can certainly be called disgusting, morally repugnant, obscene--you name it Almost everyone will be disgusted by this author's writing--while many will refuse to read him, a good many will want to read him for this reason alone. If extreme horror is what you are after, you will find it in these pages. However, the almost constant allusions to and overt examples of sexual matters become tiresome if not aggravating and eventually sickening, as it seems that many pages were written solely as a means for Lee to indulge himself in his own sexual fantasies, with little or no concern for the plot at all.
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That having been said, I am not totally satisfied with Nolan's approach. He rightfully criticizes various historians for drawing conclusions about Lee based on single statements or letters written by Lee (often after the fact). However, Nolan is often guilty of the same misdeed. While I suspect that the documentary record would tend support Nolan's thesis than undermine it, nonetheless the documentation Nolan provides is quite limited. Carefully selecting the evidence that supports your argument might work in a court of law, but not in a work of history.
I also think that Nolan at times indulges in unnecessary hair-splitting, such as in the 5-page Chapter 5, where he discusses Lee's feelings towards his adversaries. The chapter seemed to me to be totally superfluous and contributed nothing to the book overall.
Nolan, in an effort to discredit the dogma of the Lost Cause, at times goes overboard in his assumptions. When criticizing Lee for undermining the Confederacy's war effort by going too much on the offensive, Nolan states that the South actually had a realistic chance of winning the war. His argument is that if Lee had preserved his manpower more prudently, the South could have withstood the North's attempts at conquest. This is a valid argument, because it is obvious that Lee did a good job of wrecking his army from 1861-1863.
However, Nolan's larger argument rests on the supposition that the South was effectively managing its war effort elsewhere. Ironically, like many of the devotees of the Lost Cause, Nolan ignores the impact of the war in the Western Theatre while focusing on the Eastern Theatre. The reality was that in the Western Theatre, especially in the first two years of the war when North & South were more or less equally matched in the field, the South was steadily losing ground virtually from the beginning. This is due as much to the incompetent generalship of the Confederacy as anything else. Even if Lee had carefully husbanded his manpower, he could not have undone the damage caused by generals such as Polk & Bragg in the Western Theatre.
The best part of Nolan's book is the final chapter, where he discusses the overall effort by the South (with very willing collusion from the North) to turn the Civil War & the Antebellum period into some sort of idyllic fairy tale, due to the racist attitudes that both regions shared. He gives a convincing argument about century-long effort to change the very nature of the war, of which the Lee mythology is only one element.
While at times this book veers dangerously close to being a commonplace chop-job, overall it makes a decent contribution to the literature. If Nolan had provided more comprehensive documentation, its impact would be all the better. As it is, one cannot consider it the last word, but it has ushered in an honest debate on the subject.