Brief Review of the OAH’s New Publication: The American Historian

The American Historian (preview issue)
The American Historian (preview issue)

I’ve been a member of the Organization of American Historians for roughly the past ten years and for one reason: Magazine of History. The publication has been incredibly helpful to me over the years. Each issue has a clear historical theme and the lesson plans and short essays have direct application to what I do in the classroom. At the beginning of every school year I peruse my back issues for ways to change things up and keep my teaching fresh and challenging. So, you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned that the OAH was discontinuing the magazine for a new publication: The American Historian.

The “preview” issue arrived yesterday and unfortunately it is a bit of a disappointment. Continue reading

“I Am Silas”

Looks like the story of Andrew and Silas Chandler is now the subject of a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, which appears in the collection, Lines in Long Array: A Civil War Commemoration: Poems and Photographs, Past and Present. There is something satisfying about the story of Silas making it into such a collection and some of the stanzas are quite beautiful, but it is unfortunate that Komunyakaa makes so many mistakes. More to the point we are presented with the story of Silas as the loyal slave whose world is defined by service to Andrew and the Confederate cause. Continue reading

Of All the Books To Read After the Antietam Campaign

William Dorsey PenderI am just about finished reading Brian Steel Wills’s new biography of William Dorsey Pender. It’s a solid biography, just what we’ve come to expect from Wills. Indeed, he has been very productive in recent years. Pender’s letters to his wife Fanny are front and center in this biography. One of the most interesting sections occurs early on in the book when Dorsey is chided by his wife for admitting to flirtatious behavior with women in Suffolk, Virginia, who he openly admitted, “will do anything for me.” That’s probably not what you want to write to your wife, who is struggling back in North Carolina to take care of two young children. Live and learn.

Even more interesting, however, is the revelation that shortly after the Antietam Campaign Pender chose to read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Continue reading