Monday, January 21, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Suggestions

In recognition of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday I have a couple of book suggestions for those interested.

Many of you will already know I am working on a book dealing with St. Augustine, FL and the American Civil War. Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a direct tie in with St. Augustine? It's true and there are couple of very good books out there on the subject.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Monson
Motor Lodge owner Jimmy Brock. 1964.
In 1963 the local F. W. Woolworth was the scene of a sit-in where over 20 protesters were arrested. Protests and counter protests grew to be common place and racially charged violence became the norm. The year 1964 was to be the kick off of the 400th anniversary of the city. When black leaders were excluded from the kick off event the city became a target for protests by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and even included visits from Dr. King himself. Dr. King was arrested while trying integrate the whites only Monson Motor Lodge on June 11, 1964. This was the only time he was arrested in the state. On a closely related note: The Monson Motor Lodge was torn down in 2003 to make room for the large Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront facing Matanzas Bay. This is really a loss but not completely unexpected in a city that while it thrives on history has allowed much history to fall to the bulldozer.

The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers
Monument, located in the
Plaza De La Constitucion
In May 2011 the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument was unveiled. Weighing over 8,000 pounds the bronze and coquina sculpture pays tribute to those who bravely marched during the hot summer of 1964. The four faces are not of specific individuals but rather are meant to portray the average marcher including both black and white, young and old. Sculptor Brian R. Owens created the main sculpture and Enzo Torcoletti designed the base.

Recommended reading on the subject includes Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980 (Florida Sand Dollar Books) written by noted Florida historian David Colburn. While the title of the book suggests a much broader time frame the books focus is mostly on the period of the 1960's. Despite being twenty years old this is really the go-to work on the subject.

Attorney Dan Warren was appointed as the governor's representative in St. Augustine during this struggle. In If It Takes All Summer: Martin Luther King, the KKK, and States' Rights in St. Augustine, 1964 Warren recounts his own story of helping to crack down on the KKK and local leaders who stymied and stonewalled the rights of black citizens. I have read only bits but this looks to be an interesting first hand account of the time.

Author David Garrow has edited a book titled St. Augustine, Florida, 1963-1964: Mass Protest and Racial Violence (Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, Vol 10). I don't know anything about this book however. Dr. Garrow has written widely on the Civil Rights movement so I would expect this to be a worthy contribution.

The Florida Legislature also had investigations done and these were published in 1965 as Racial and Civil Disorders in St. Augustine : Report of the Legislative Investigation Committee. Further information is available on the Florida Division of Library and Information Services website. Again, I have not seen a copy of this report.

For further information be sure to visit the Accord Freedom Trail website.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Upcoming Posts--Bruce Levine and North Carolina fiction

A couple of new releases have arrived in my mailbox over the last few weeks.

Thanks to the good folks at Random House for sending a copy of Bruce Levine's new book The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South.

From the dust jacket:  In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first.

After seeing the "reviews" on Amazon this looks like it will be an interesting book. Those who refuse to accept that slavery was the driving force in the cause of the war seem to have taken it upon themselves to post a bunch of 1 star reviews with little real thought or insight.

Thanks go out to author David C. Reavis for sending along a nicely autographed copy of Upon These Steps: Brothers in NC 23rd Regiment.

From the book cover: Two brothers are faced with whether or not to join the Confederate Army. One decides to voluntarily enlist, while the other joins only after being drafted. The brothers’ episodes reflect the chronicles of the “Granville Rifles,” a Company within the NC 23rd Regiment. From the Battle of Bull Run to Sherman’s occupation of Raleigh, the plight of each boy gives the reader an insider’s glimpse of the war. Left behind on the family farm are their parents and siblings. Relive what a Southern family had to endure during the war years. All major events seem to originate on the home’s unique circular rock steps. Soldiers leave for and return from war, slaves are freed, Yankees pay a visit, and suitors come a calling. The epic story of this Southern family is a unique blending of historical fiction with a storyline that reflects the resilience of the human spirit. The book is the result of over 35 years of genealogy research of the author. All characters are based on actual people living during the Civil War, with many events being based on eyewitness accounts as recorded by the soldiers in letters written home.

Mr. Reavis is retired from the State of North Carolina and has been doing genealogy research for over 35 years. Please be sure to see his websites and . Theres is also a Facebook page for the book here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review--Plates, Belts, and Swords of the Grand Army of the Republic

Roussin, Douglas W. Plates, Belts and Swords of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Greybird Publishers, Acworth, GA. 2008. 148 pages, bibliography, b/w photos. ISBN 9780615247618, $34.95.

For those looking to collect items associated with the Grand Army of the Republic or Sons of Union Veterans it can be a mine field. Is that item real or fake, rare or common, original or repaired? It pays to be educated and for those looking at this collecting field this looks to be a must have book.

I will admit to being a novice in this area however I was fascinated by the book. It is loaded with black and white photos and has plenty of  text to go along with them. Most items are given at least a 1/2 page treatment and many receive a full page including photos.  The text is in a good size font and you won't have to strain to read it. The paper is a nice glossy variety that helps showcase the photos.

The book contains what the authors calls a standardized numbering system. I can't say whether the system in the book has been widely adopted or not. Also included is a rarity-scale which is used on each item. The scale is a 1-5 ranking with 1 being items encountered on a regular basis to 5 being items only rarely seen in advanced level collections. There is however no sense of what these descriptions mean in terms of numbers. I guess once you start collecting you figure it out yourself. And while the book is now five years old and things change rapidly there are no values listed for any items so a beginner is still floundering on that key point.

The book wraps up with a word on reproductions and two appendices listing dealers and makers of G.A.R. and S.O.V. swords. A brief bibliography rounds out the book.

While maybe not the definitive book on the subject this is still an interesting look at this collecting field and should be on the shelves of both dealers and collectors alike.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

History Presents "The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents"

I received the press release below about an upcoming 8-part series on the United States Presidency. This looks interesting and will hopefully prove worth watching.

Since 1789, 43 men have altered the destiny of millions – and shaped the history of the world. The evolving story of America can be told through…


New 8-part series premieres on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 pm ET on HISTORY®

New York, NY – In a world ruled by kings and emperors, the United States of America was a risky experiment – a republic of, by, and for the people – with power divided among three branches of government. But it is one branch, the Executive, in which the hopes and aspirations of the American people are primarily embodied – in the President of the United States.

In the week preceding the 2013 Presidential inauguration, HISTORY will present THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTS. From George Washington to Barack Obama, this eight-hour series will cover the history of the most influential position in the world, and the men who defined its power. The series premieres on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 pm ET on HISTORY.

Forty-three men have taken the oath of President of the United States. Whether each set groundbreaking precedent, declared war or enacted laws altering the destiny of millions, each found himself in the eye of the storm. THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTS delves inside the inner-workings of the Presidency, as well as the minds, methods and motivations of each man who has held the position of Commander-In-Chief. 

Each episode also explores how the Office of the Presidency has evolved over the past 222 years. When George Washington was elected, no one knew what a President was. There was no title, no policy, and no code of behavior for a Chief Executive. So everything he did – from selecting a Cabinet to determining where the Capitol should be to creating an Oval Office and a White House – set precedents for the nation’s future.

Interviews with historians, past administration officials, and family members portray the role of the Presidency as an ever-changing institution that is influenced by the personalities of each of the men and how each interacts with the events transpiring in the world around them

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTS is produced for HISTORY by Karga Seven Pictures. Susan Werbe is Executive Producer for HISTORY. Executive Producers for Karga Seven Pictures are Sarah Wetherbee, Emre Sahin and Kelly McPherson.

HISTORY® is the leading destination for factual entertainment, including award-winning original series and specials that connect viewers with history in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network’s all-original programming slate, including scripted event programming, features a roster of hits including American Pickers®, American Restoration™, Ax Men™, Ice Road Truckers®, Pawn Stars®, Swamp People® and Top Shot® as well as epic mini-series and specials such as the Emmy® Award-winning Hatfields & McCoys, Gettysburg, Vietnam in HD, America The Story of Us, and 102 Minutes That Changed America. The HISTORY website is the leading online resource for all things history, and in 2011, the United States Library of Congress selected HISTORY’s Civil War 150 site for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War sesquicentennial.

Gettysburg Cyclorama Building to be Demolished

So unless you've been living under a rock (or maybe a big clunker of a building) or have no interest in the Civil War you already have heard the good news that the old Gettysburg Cyclorama building will be coming down soon. Like other misguided and misplaced attractions on the battlefield this one will fade into memory shortly only remembered by post cards and photos.  Maybe the NPS or Foundation will sell pieces of the building much like pieces of the old Berlin Wall were readily available a few years ago. Laugh if you will but I see nothing wrong with this idea. The building is coming down so why not try to make a few bucks off it in the process. Just make the price reasonable and I think folks might be willing to pick up a small memento of this badly placed building even if it is just to say "Thank God, it's gone and the original view is back."  

NPS Issues Decision on Gettysburg's Cyclorama Building
GETTYSBURG, Pa. - The National Park Service has issued a decision regarding the future of the Cyclorama building at Gettysburg National Military Park and concluding the park's environmental assessment (EA) planning process. The decision document, known as a Finding of No Significant Impact, or "FONSI," calls for demolition of the Cyclorama building in order to rehabilitate North Cemetery Ridge on the Gettysburg battlefield to its historic 1863 battle, and 1864 - 1938 commemorative-era appearance.
In March 2010, the United States District Court directed the NPS to undertake a "site-specific environmental analysis on the demolition of the Cyclorama Center" and to consider "non-demolition alternatives" to its demolition before "any implementing action is taken on the Center." Accordingly, the NPS initiated the EA. In 1962 the Cyclorama was built on the center of the Union battle line on Cemetery Ridge near where Union forces repelled Pickett's Charge. The building was designed by Richard Neutra and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The park's nonprofit partner, the Gettysburg Foundation, has funds for the demolition of the building which would begin this winter. Old Cyclorama Building

The FONSI for the environmental assessment for the Final Disposition of the Gettysburg Cyclorama Building will be available for public review at here. A copy will also be available for review at the Adams County Public Library reference desk at 140 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg.
Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American history. For more information visit the National Park Service website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gettysburg Magazine Sale

I received the following announcement from Gatehouse Press today. This is a great chance to pick up those missing back issues.   Get them before the end of January!
Gettysburg Magazine sale

As the 150th anniversary year of the Battle of Gettysburg begins, we are starting it off with a sale on The Gettysburg Magazine. Each issue is 128 pages with no advertising, so each issue is like a book on America's most famous battle. If you want to get some of the best material being published on the battle, now is a great time to do it.
Through the end of January, individual issues are just $4.00 each.

We also have bound volumes. Each are newly printed books that contain eight issues of the magazine (1,024 pages). We have three bound volumes. Bound Volume 1 contains issues 1-8, Vol. 2 issues 9-16, and Vol. 3 issues 17-24. Regularly $80.00 each, the bound volumes are now on sale for just $50.00. That's a tremendous amount of great material on the battle, all for a great price.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Author Interview--Dr. Guy Hasegawa

Photo Courtesy
 Dr. Guy Hasegawa
It has been my great pleasure to correspond with Dr. Guy Hasegawa regarding his recently published book Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs. Please enjoy this interview!

CBR—Dr. Hasegawa thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for readers. Can you give readers a brief biographical sketch and what led to your interest in the Civil War?

You’re very welcome, Robert. I was born and raised in Santa Monica, CA. After attending UCLA (Go Bruins!), where I earned a B.A. in zoology, I received a doctor of pharmacy degree from UC San Francisco and completed a residency in hospital pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After that, I was a hospital pharmacist in Ann Arbor, MI, with a clinical practice in a coronary care unit. I’ve been at my current job in Maryland, as an editor, since 1988. I’ve published articles in the pharmacy and medical literature since 1978, and my first historical article was published in 2000.

I’ve been interested in military history as long as I can remember—or at least I enjoyed playing soldier as a kid and loved army surplus stores. I didn’t really study history until I reached mid-career and had some time for leisure reading, much of which was about World War II. It was moving to Maryland and visiting sites like Antietam and Gettysburg that shifted my focus to the Civil War. I volunteered to do some research on 19th century medicinal herbs for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD, and that introduced me to primary documents of the time, to fantastic repositories like the NationalArchives and National Library of Medicine, and to specialists in Civil War medicine. I got hooked on the excitement of uncovering new information and sharing it in talks and articles. I concentrated at first on Civil War pharmacy but have taken on various other medical topics.

CBR—While your day job isn’t writing about the Civil War you are closely associated with writing and publishing. Can you tell us about your work as Senior Editor at the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy? Did you find you journal experience a help or a hindrance in writing your own book?

The journal I work for publishes original articles—written by pharmacists and other health professionals—about drug therapy and pharmacy practice in hospitals and other institutional settings. I have numerous responsibilities, including planning journal content, but I spend the bulk of my time handling manuscripts. This includes evaluating them for suitability, selecting peer reviewers, discussing whether the submissions should be pursued for publication, determining how their authors can improve them, clarifying and restructuring them in preparation for copyediting, approving copyediting, and checking proofs.

I’m sure this experience helped in writing my book. I often have to decide how to improve the effectiveness and clarity of manuscripts—and usually how to shorten them—and doing this at work pays off when I do my own writing. I found it fairly easy, for example, to picture how I wanted my book organized and balanced. At work, we are ever mindful of structure, clarity, grammar, punctuation, and style, and I’m always observing how copyeditors improve what authors submit. I sometime have to redo parts of manuscripts, and it’s especially instructive to see how much better my own writing is after a copyeditor has tweaked it. I get a lot of practice as an editor; each year, I help prepare about 80 manuscripts for publication.

I have to believe that my experience was helpful in presenting a successful book proposal and collaborating with the folks at Southern Illinois University Press who worked on my manuscript. I understand the publication process, and I think I was able to communicate efficiently with my acquisitions editor, copyeditor, and production coordinator and anticipate their needs perhaps a little better than many other authors.

Editors also tend to be detail-oriented, respectful of the language, and—in certain specialties like medicine—fairly particular about backing up “facts” with documentation. I probably had these inclinations before becoming an editor. In any event, they proved useful for the type of book that I wrote.

Was my editorial experience a hindrance in any way? I don’t think so. Journals and books are not the same, but the same principles of writing and editing apply. Also, I was already acquainted with alternative ways of preparing manuscripts from my experience writing for various periodicals. There’s a saying that doctors make the worst patients, so I guess the corollary would be that editors make the worst authors. You’d have to ask the staff at SIU Press whether that was true in my case, but my impression is that things went pretty smoothly. I don’t think anyone there dreaded hearing from me unless it was during negotiations about the book title and cover design.

CBR—Your recent book, Mending Broken Soldiers, deals with a seldom discussed aspect of Civil War medicine: the artificial limb industry. Can you elaborate a bit on your book and what led to your interest in the subject?

Let me answer the second part of your question first. I didn’t have a preexisting interest in artificial limbs, but I’ve always been willing to research new topics, even if they had little or nothing to do with pharmacy. Several years ago, I became aware of records at the National Archives dealing with the Association for the Relief of Maimed Soldiers, a wartime civilian effort in the South to assist amputees. A number of projects intervened, but I eventually found myself looking for something new to investigate and decided to examine the ARMS records. I realized pretty quickly that the story contained in those documents needed to be told and that the corresponding Union program also needed to be researched. Once I started getting a view of the big picture, I knew there was way too much to fit into a magazine or journal article, so I decided to try a book, and the result was Mending Broken Soldiers.

The book, then, describes these wartime endeavors to supply military amputees with artificial limbs. This topic had previously received little attention, although there is some good literature on Southern postwar programs. Before the war, soldiers who had lost an arm or leg might receive a pension but had to procure artificial limbs on their own. The efforts described in the book were the forerunners of today’s prosthetics programs for military service members, and they were influenced by a multitude of human motives—altruism, patriotism, greed, and self-promotion, for example—and by the political and business environment. The men who administered the program on both sides were army surgeons who initially knew little about artificial limbs and had to find manufacturers and develop efficient ways to provide the devices to soldiers and sailors who needed them. The striking contrast between North and South in this endeavor illustrates how the sides differed in industrial capacity, manpower, and resources. The story features a diverse and unexpected cast of characters, including some renowned physicians and famous military officers. (That’s as close to a spoiler alert as I’ll get.) Appreciating the programs requires background knowledge of the limbs industry, so I provided that information in the text and in an appendix. The book has 23 illustrations, many of which have not previously appeared in print, and SIU Press has posted a couple of supplementary documents online. These are listings of more than 6000 Union soldiers and sailors who received a limb and several hundred Confederate soldiers who applied for a limb.

CBR—War is often credited with advancing medical technology. Can you discuss some of the advances in artificial limbs that came about due to the Civil War?

It’s important to realize that the limbs industry was growing and becoming increasingly competitive even before the war started. Railroads and machinery in factories, farms, and elsewhere were dismembering people at an alarming rate, and it was the age of invention, so folks who were mechanically inclined were designing and patenting all sorts of things. The war added a lot of customers for artificial limbs and intensified competition among manufacturers, but it’s hard to say whether specific developments were brought about by the war or would have occurred anyway.

Three particular innovations come to mind. The first was a ball-and-socket ankle joint that allowed the foot to move in all directions, not just up and down. The second was a solid rubber foot that was pliable enough to supposedly make ankle and toe joints unnecessary, and the third was a socket (the section receiving the stump) that was flexible rather than rigid. You’d have to consider the evolution of prostheses for decades after the war to determine whether these were true advances rather than just novelties, and I don’t think I’m qualified to do that. There certainly was a lot of disagreement at the time about the ball-and-socket ankle and the flexible socket. They seemed like good ideas in theory, but competing manufacturers claimed that they didn’t work in practice. A lot of designers came up with new concepts and materials and touted them as improvements, but even if the thinking was sound, a limb with these features might not work for a particular patient unless it met that individual’s specific needs and was corrected fitted.

CBR—There is still the view that doctors performed too many amputations during the war and also that there was a lack of anesthesia available. Would you care to address these myths and set the record straight?

It’s not surprising that people thought—and still think—that amputation occurred too often. There were all those boys returning from the war minus a limb, many of them claiming that their arm or leg could have been saved. Amputation was indeed the most common major operation of the war, and that fact prompts people to imagine that the typical surgeon had a one-track mind focused on sawing off limbs. What one must realize, though, is that physicians generally believed that other types of major operations—say, for penetrating wounds of the head, chest, or abdomen—were futile because if the wounds didn’t kill the patient, the surgery would. On the other hand, surgeons knew that removing a seriously injured limb could save a patient’s life, and that—plus the large number of limb wounds—accounted for the high frequency of amputation. I’d venture that the number of Civil War amputations about equaled the number of amputations that should have been done. The problem, though, was that some limbs were unnecessarily removed, and some remained that should have been removed. Keep in mind that most Civil War surgeons had recently been in civilian practice and may not have been adept at amputation or judging when the operation needed to be performed. So yes, physicians sometimes amputated limbs unnecessarily, because they didn’t know better or perhaps were eager to gain some experience performing the operation. On the other hand, surgeons sometimes elected not to amputate when doing so would have been best. This could doom the patient to a relatively quick death from overwhelming infection or to a lifetime of misery and debility with a natural limb that was chronically infected and less functional than an artificial one. Some learned physicians of the time concluded that more lives would have been saved had more amputations been performed. Of course, they meant that those additional amputations would have been in patients who needed them, because the operation was not benign; the overall mortality rate for all amputations was about 25%.

Using chloroform or ether as an anesthetic was the standard of practice for major operations and other painful procedures during the Civil War. Large quantities of these drugs were used by each side. There were times when the supply chain failed and the anesthetics were unavailable, and in those cases, an alternative such as alcohol or morphine may have been given. I suspect that Hollywood is largely responsible for the common belief that all a patient received in preparation for amputation was whiskey.

CBR—Mending Broken Soldiers has been out now for about three months. What has been the reaction so far?

The reception has been great. Reviews from bloggers and comments appearing on Amazon have been uniformly positive, and audiences hearing my talks about limbs have been eager to buy a copy of the book. It’s steadily making its way into libraries. I’ve been anxiously waiting for reviews to appear in Civil War magazines and other periodicals. I’m not yet ready to retire on my royalties, but that will change once your readers see this interview, right?

CBR—Prior to this book you were co-editor with Jim Schmidt on a work called Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine. Can you give readers a thumbnail sketch of this book and what they could expect when reading it?

Years of Change and Suffering is a collection of eight essays on various aspects of Civil War medicine, each by a different author, including Jim and me. The contributions, which are fairly specialized, reflect current scholarship on topics that range from medical education to post traumatic stress disorder and from amputation to urological injuries. Although the book is not meant to provide a complete overview of Civil War medicine, it is still appropriate for general-interest readers. I like the idea of collecting essays, because most researchers have at least one project that is too limited in scope to serve as the basis for its own book. A compilation provides a place for such projects and is an alternative to publishing them as magazine or journal articles. The last time I checked, the book was not available through large online dealers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. However, I just got a shipment of the paperbacks, so I know that the publisher, Edinborough Press, has at least that edition in stock. Folks who want to buy a copy might ask Edinborough about availability ( or contact me through my website (

CBR—I seem to recall on Civil War Talk Radio you mentioned the possibility of a second volume. Is that idea still out there?

Volume 2 remains a possibility but is not in the immediate future. The compilation concept is still a good one and can result in an important contribution to the literature. For now, though, I’d like to stick with my own research.

CBR—So what is up next for you? Will you continue writing about Civil War medicine?

Yes, I will. The research keeps me active and interested, and I’m a great believer in publishing one’s important findings. In fact, I usually don’t take on a project unless I think it has publication potential. Right now, I’m promoting Mending Broken Soldiers, attending Civil War medicine conferences, and keeping my eyes open for another research project. I’d like to try my hand at a book that will allow me to present a lot of information I’ve collected over the years dealing with medical purveying. The trick will be to convince a publisher and then an audience that what I have to say is worth reading. Until I figure out how to do that, I won’t know exactly what I’ll cover or what additional research needs to be done.

CBR—Dr. Hasegawa, I’d like to thank you again for answering these questions. I wish you continued success with your book.

It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss my work.

Please see my review of Dr. Hasegawa's book here.