when you are surrounded by so much history. I’ve always been attracted to the history in my immediate surroundings. It’s what connects me to my community and/or allows me to make sense of things. Even when I travel overseas and for however brief a period of time, I find myself knee deep in local history. Since moving to Boston three weeks ago I’ve been reading local history non-stop. I just finished Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson and Richard Archer’s, As If an Enemy’s Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution. I am now reading Stephen Puleo’s book about the second half of the nineteenth century, titled, A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900. In short, I am overwhelmed by so much history.
The original plan was to take the next year to write a book-length study of black Confederates. I have to admit, however, that my ability to concentrate on this subject has been seriously compromised. The book needs to be written, but I am beginning to doubt that I am the person to do it. I recently learned that James Hogue has been working on just such a study, but I have no idea where he is with it. His book, Uncivil War: Five New Orleans Street Battles and the Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction, is an excellent study that challenges our tendency to draw a sharp line between the Civil War and Reconstruction. I still don’t know where I am on this project, but that I am even questioning it should give you some sense of how the move has refocused me.
On Monday I am heading to the Concord Museum to check out a new exhibit on the Civil War. Following that I will head on over to the public library to meet with someone in their special collections department. I’ve become very interested in writing a community study and Concord may be just the ticket. Not much has been written about the community and the Civil War, though I learned that one study is close to completion. I am specifically interested in looking at the immediate postwar years as well as commemorative events in the area. Stay tuned.