In the late first century, Roman Emperor Titus had a slew of problems to compound his first year… Vesuvius erupted, plague, fires in Rome. He decided to distract everyone with a celebration to commemorate the completion of his newest resort, the Flavian Amphitheater.
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Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth by Holger Hoock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I got a pre-publication look at this through NetGalley.
War is hell, brutal, uncivilized. Humans, despite sometimes semi-rational brains, are too near to their evolutionary roots to be anything on the average but violent creatures. No manner of romanticizing can change that. The American Revolution has been washed, sanitized, mythologized, simplified…glorified through deliberate omission and revision and far too many people have no clue that they have been fed a pack of partial truths at best.
Mr. Hoock claims in the second sentence of his Preface that his is the “first book … to adopt violence as a central analytical and narrative focus.” I don’t know if that is true, but I do think that it may be the first to aggregate the knowledge. Some of this I knew from other readings. Some, while clearly not specific, can be inferred from any study of war and violence. To think that the British were any different than any other power suppressing an insurrection would buy into a sadly persistent myth of the civilized benevolence of the great British (or other, whether European or not) Empire. To think that the Revolutionaries, angry and feeling disenfranchised (evidence the stunning lack of reason that precipitated 2016), would revolt politely and orderly would buy into that romantic portrayal found in The American Pageant, Land of Promise, Triumph of the American Nation and their kind.
So what Hoock does is remove the curtain…expose the truths, as documented…offer logical supposition (and qualify them as such) where documents are scant or untrustworthy. This is not your grandfather’s history…but it was your great times maybe eight grandfather’s. Well researched. Well written.
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I got an advance, pre-publication look at In Their Lives – a book in which the editors asked people to write stories about their favorite Beatles songs. As I read it, I reflected on my own Beatles experience. As with many things, I don’t have a favorite. I think “favorites” are self-limiting.
But I do have stories (surprise!) of how I came to know The Beatles. Continue reading