Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LSU Press 40% off Civil War Titles-Limited Time

LSU Press Civil War Titles 40% Off Until June 25


Baton Rouge—Hundreds of fascinating Civil War titles can be yours at a 40% discount until June 25. This offer includes classic hardcover and paperback titles, as well as new releases like Alfred C. Young III’s Lee's Army during the Overland Campaign with a foreword by Gordon C. Rhea. For the Civil War buff and historian this is a great opportunity to affordably deepen your understanding and broaden your library. Through this offer only you can also buy the newly released, commemorative boxed set Generals in Blue and Gray at 20% off! Visit to discover more Civil War titles at up to 40% off. Order online at or call 800.848.6224 and use the code 04CIVILWAR.

This limited-time offer includes titles like Lincoln and McCellan at War by Chester G. Hearn, Mark Stegmaier’s Henry Adams in the Secession Crisis, and new releases like David C. Keehn’s Knights of the Golden Circle and Linda Barnickel’s Milliken’s Bend.  Visit our site through this link to explore more titles:

All purchases require immediate payment and are non-refundable and cannot be combined with any other offers. Excludes reference titles.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PBS Video Features Underwater World War II Corsair F4U

Thanks to my good friends at PBS for sending along this information. If you are interested in World War II or in diving this should be of interest. The video is about 9 minutes long.
The all new bi-weekly series from PBS Digital Studios, “Under H2O,” captures some of nature’s most exciting underwater events, creatures and locations.

This week’s video, ‘WWII Corsair Wreck Dive’ features amazing underwater footage of the wreckage of a World War II Corsair F4U airplane. In this episode, Dr. Musburger and his team take cameras underwater a few miles south off the island of Oahu. 100 feet down, the coral covered aircraft is a sanctuary for many interesting sea creatures including elusive garden eels and bottom-feeding goatfish. The video can be seen here:,
To view all PBS Digital Studios videos, please visit

Dr. Musburger is a Ph.D. Marine Biologist and winner of a National Emmy Award in Outstanding Camera Work. In 2002, he founded HD Under H2O, a Hawaii-based production company specializing in underwater production for educational, scientific, dramatic, and sports outlets. In teaming up with PBS, Dr. Musburger brings his considerable talent and knowledge to a new audience and takes them along on his exciting journeys.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History BOOK GIVE-AWAY!

Thanks going out to the great folks at Random House for providing copies of two new releases AND also for providing an extra copy of each to be given away to a reader! See my second blog posting for information on the other book. The press releases are kind of long and didn't format well.

Now, if you would like a FREE copy, be sure to read the press release below and then post a comment telling me what you think you will like about this book. On June 3rd I'll take a look at the comments and choose a winner. Please make sure I have a way to contact you in order to get your address. The book is ready to send out!

A rousing cross-country journey, from small towns to big cities, in search of

America’s most extraordinary—but unmarked—historic sites



Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History

By Andrew Carroll


“Carroll takes readers on an eye-opening and entertaining grand tour of America in this lively exploration of lesser-known or overlooked historical sites.… Part travelogue, part history, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in America’s past.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Carroll makes eloquent pleas for the importance of forgotten [historical] episodes.… He is a good storyteller and
has done an impressive amount of research.”
Kirkus Reviews
This is a terrific book: refreshingly original, fast-paced, entertaining, and always insightful. It’s full of fun and interesting stories that bring the past to life and remind us that we are surrounded by the artifacts of history."
—Steven M. Gillon, Scholar-in-Residence at The History Channel
"Impressive…. Carroll has discovered a way of doing history that, once you see it, seems so obvious, indeed right under your nose or feet.  But to the best of my knowledge, no one has done this before."
—Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Revolutionary Summer and Founding Brothers


The bestselling author of WAR LETTERS, Andrew Carroll, is back with a sensational new book, HERE IS WHERE: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History (Crown Archetype: May 14, 2013). The product of years of research and travel, HERE IS WHERE spotlights the unmarked locations where heroic individuals lived, groundbreaking innovations occurred, and momentous events unfolded. The book is also the cornerstone of a major campaign to identify and preserve neglected historic sites throughout the United States.


Carroll’s quest started as so many do: with a great story. Intrigued by a little-known account of Edwin Booth – brother of the assassin John Wilkes Booth – saving the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son at a New Jersey train station, Carroll began seeking out other forgotten but fascinating sites we walk by every day. HERE IS WHERE covers the full sweep of our nation’s past, from the first Native Americans, explorers, and pilgrims who set foot on this land, to the pioneers, patriots, inventors, and activists who transformed it.


Carroll visited every region of the country, and HERE IS WHERE follows his incredible trek – by car, plane, train, helicopter, kayak, bus, and bike – as he uncovers hidden history sites across America, including in:

·         Mound City, Arkansas, where a boat carrying Civil War soldiers exploded on the Mississippi River, a disaster that claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic (p. 34)

·         Paisley, Oregon, where the oldest human DNA in America was discovered (p. 67)

·         Saluda, Virginia, where an African-American woman refused to give up her seat on a bus, prompting a U.S. Supreme Court desegregation case—more than 11 years before Rosa Parks made her stand (p. 172)

·         Caledonia, North Carolina, where a prison inmate created a weapon, with the warden’s permission, that revolutionized modern warfare (p. 213)

·         Rigby, Idaho, where a teenage farm boy had a brainstorm that led to the invention of television (p. 238)

·         Peoria, Illinois, where a group of USDA and British scientists secretly worked to mass produce penicillin at the beginning of World War II, ultimately saving tens of millions of lives (p. 304)

·         Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where a copy of the Declaration of Independence was discovered that pre-dates the one on display at the National Archives (p. 409)


Timed with the publication of the book, Carroll is embarking on a 50-state, year-long tour to share his findings and energize people from all walks of life to search for great unmarked places in their own communities. Carroll is also using proceeds from his book to put up historical markers at specific sites.


Carroll’s previous bestseller, WAR LETTERS, inspired an ongoing nationwide effort to honor America’s troops and veterans by collecting and archiving their wartime correspondence. His love for history is genuine and deeply personal; ironically, Carroll grew up disliking the subject—until his house burned down and everything he had was destroyed. Losing all of his family memorabilia made him realize the importance of saving the past, and he’s been an impassioned and dedicated advocate for historic preservation ever since. Here Is Where is a thoroughly entertaining but profound reminder that the places we pass by often harbor astonishing secrets and that amazing, little-known stories are all around us, just waiting to be found. 



ANDREW CARROLL is best known as the editor of WAR LETTERS, which sold more than 300,000 copies and inspired a critically acclaimed PBS documentary. His other New York Times bestsellers include LETTERS OF A NATION and BEHIND THE LINES. He also edited the anthology OPERATION HOMECOMING, which inspired the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning film of the same name. Carroll lives in Washington, D.C., and Orange, California, where he serves as the director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University.


HERE IS WHERE: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History

By Andrew Carroll

Published by Crown Archetype * On sale May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-46397-5 * Price: $25.00 * Hardcover


Also available as an eBook and on audio from Random House


A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe it or Not" Ripley BOOK GIVE-AWAY!

Thanks going out to the great folks at Random House for providing copies of two new releases AND also for providing an extra copy of each to be given away to a reader! See my second blog posting for information on the other book. The press releases are kind of long and didn't format well.

Now, if you would like a FREE copy, be sure to read the press release below and then post a comment telling me what you think you will like about this book. On June 3rd I'll take a look at the comments and choose a winner. Please make sure I have a way to contact you in order to get your address. The book is ready to send out!

The first ever complete biography of “Believe It or Not!”
creator Robert Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned
globe-trottingplayboy millionaire, who achieved global
 celebrity by documenting and celebrating the world’s
strangest oddities.
The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley
By Neal Thompson
“Robert Ripley was as unique and fascinating as the ‘Believe It or Not’ newspaper feature that made him
one of the most popular and widely read syndicated cartoonists in the country during the 1930s, and
Thompson delivers an equally fascinating biography that captures the influence of Ripley’s work life then
and now, well into the age of television and the Internet ….Thompson superbly shows how Ripley’s work
 is the basis for today’s more extreme reality shows by teaching readers ‘to gape with respect at the
weirdness of man and nature.’”Publishers Weekly
Thompson paints a picture of Ripley as a brilliant but aggressively eccentric man, a globe-trotting curiosity
 seeker who always believed there was something even more unusual just around the corner. A Curious Man
 is a fine introduction to a man who, for most of us, has been merely the name above a famous title.”Booklist
“What’s truly unbelievable is that it’s taken us so long to get a full-fledged biography of this great American
 character, a man who tapped into our fascination with bizarre non-fiction and who can rightly claim to be
 the godfather of Reality TV. It was worth the wait.”A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling
 author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically
“Anyone who wants to understand America needs to read this book.”—Ben Fountain, Winner of the
 Pen/Hemingway Award and author of the National Book Award Finalist Billy Lynn’s Long
Halftime Walk
 “Turning the phrase ‘believe it or not’ into a global brand and multimedia empire built on equal doses o
f sex, information, and oddity, Robert Ripley played a fascinating role in the rise of modern American entertainment….Shrewdly, he conjured a first-person fairy tale for the modern age, helping millions to
 forget the specter of world war and depression.  Now, for the first time anywhere, Thompson brings us
 Ripley in all his gaudy glory, crafting a hardboiled Horatio Alger story for a media-obsessed age.”
—Tom Reiss, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner The Black Count 
 “Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the history of a time can be resolved in the biography of a few
 stout and earnest people.  Robert Ripley was certainly one of those and, in this fascinating account,
Thompson rescues for us a colorful slice of history.”Colum McCann, bestselling author of
Let the Great World Spin
A Curious Man is the rollicking, terrific story of one of America’s greatest men. … Thompson tells
the story with a perfectly-pitched sense of what makes such a man, and a nation, tick.  I laughed and
cried.  I became convinced that the next slot on Mount Rushmore should go to Robert ‘Rip’ Ripley.”
Peter Heller, New York Times bestselling author of The Dog Stars
A Curious Man is a work of real beauty and fun and emotion—and intense readability. It is a
single-session book, one of those that takes your clock and renders it mute until the book has had
 its say. Thompson is the genuine article: smart and witty, empathetic and a pleasure to read.”
—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
Howard Hughes crossed with P.T. Barnum, Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley was a lonely, buck-toothed
 cartoonist turned eccentric millionaire and renowned world-traveler who in the 1930’s and 1940’s earned
 international fame by journeying to the farthest corners of the earth in search of the world’s most exotic
 curiosities. But for all his success in uncovering oddities, no piece of Ripley’s collection was as remarkable
 as the man himself. From his youth as an awkward young artist with an innate empathy for “freaks,”
to his golden years spent on a private island stocked with rare artifacts and strange pets, Ripley lived life on
 the kind of grand scale normally confined to fiction. Now with A Curious Man: The Strange and
 Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley (Crown Archetype; May 7, 2013) acclaimed
biographer Neal Thompson has delivered a marvelously compelling account of this great American story,
 told for the first time ever—a thrilling tale of the underdog who taught us to believe in the unbelievable. 
A the height of his success, Ripley was one of the most widely-read and influential syndicated cartoonists
 of his day, one of the highest-paid newspaper men of his generation, and among the best-traveled men
in history, a man whose global dispatches gave readers much-needed entertainment during the depths
 of the Depression. As a media pioneer, he played a significant role in the evolution of newspapers, radio
 and television that were tapping into something deep in the American consciousness—a taste for the
titillating and exotic, and a fascination with the fastest, biggest, dumbest, and most weird. Today, that can
 be seen in reality TV, YouTube, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, MythBusters and a host of
 other pop-culture phenomena.
In the end, the supreme irony of Ripley’s life, which was dedicated to exalting the unusual, is that he may
 have been the most amazing oddity of all.
#     #     #
About the Author
NEAL THOMPSON is the critically acclaimed author of Light This Candle, Driving with the Devil,
and Hurricane Season and has contributed to such publications as Outside, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated.
 He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.  You can find him at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Video Review--Rebel presented by Voces on PBS

Premiering on the PBS show Voces, May 24, 2013 is the hour long documentary titled Rebel.

Romi Dias stars as Loreta Janeta Velazquez.
Photo: Gerard Gaskin
Rebel recounts the story of Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban born woman who becomes a Confederate soldier before turning Union spy. This work, directed by Maria Agui Carter, is based upon Velasquez's post war memoir titled The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier (Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography).

Largely a forgotten figure, through the writings of Velazquez and the commentary of academics and historians such as Gary Gallagher we learn the story of a woman who could be considered a tragic figure who was ahead of her time.

Loreta was born to a well off family in Cuba who in 1849 sent her to New Orleans. Here her spiritedness began to show as she  refused what appears to have been a prepared marriage. She eventually marries a white man (i.e. not Hispanic or black) who appears to only be known by the name William. They quickly have two children with a third on the way when William is sent by the army to Indian Territory. Loretta and her children move to St. Louis where her infant child dies days after birth and soon after her other two children die from a fever epidemic that sweeps through St. Louis.

As the political situation worsens war becomes apparent. William resigns his army commission and joins the Confederacy with his home state (I assume this to be a Texas regiment and not the United States Army but this is unclear in the documentary). He is sent to Pensacola, FL where he is killed though it is called an accident.

With no family, no home, and seemingly no country Loreta transforms herself into a Confederate soldier by the name of Harry T. Buford. As Buford she fights at Bull Run, Shiloh, and other locations being injured several times. While serving as a Confederate she acquires a slave by the name of Bob. Bob serves her well until escaping to apparent freedom at Shiloh. It is unclear the relationship with Bob and if he knew Loreta's/Harry's secret.

In July 1863 it is discovered that Harry is a woman and Loreta is considered to possibly by a Union spy. This charge could mean death. General John Winder however frees her several days later now using her in the Secret Service Corps. Shortly there after she goes to work in Baltimore for the Union Secret Service.

In 1875 she and her book ran afoul of Jubal Early, he of the Lost Cause. Early, who is portrayed harshly in Rebel with a wild eyed and untamed look, refuses to believe her story and essentially calls her a female camp follower; or prostitute. For the most part she disappears though she does show in printed records until 1902. According to the documentary her burial location is unknown.

While seemingly short on detail this is still a worthwhile program to view. In the filmmakers defense there really is little detail about Velazquez available. The filmmakers have used her own limited writings for much of the dialogue. During this story we learn of the race issues common in the south during this period. We also see that Velazquez sees a changing in the role of money and finances as the war drags on. Where strongest however is where we learn about the overall role of women in the time period. It is estimated that maybe 500-1,000 served in the war. The role of a woman was not questioned in the mid 19th century. The clothing and appearance of a woman was not open for debate or interpretation. Sexual roles were firm and not to be changed. Society was not ready for women such as Loreta Velazquez.

Loreta Velazquez--Romi Dias

Maria Agui Carter--writer, producer, director
Calvin Lindsay, Jr.--producer

Academics and Historians
Catherine Clinton
Renee Sentilles
Kirsten Silva Gruesz
Christina Vella
Jesse Aleman
Vicki L. Ruiz
DeAnne Blanton
Elizabeth D. Leonard
Richard Hall
Carman Cumming
Gary W. Gallagher

Thank you to CaraMar Publicity for sending a preview copy of Rebel!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review--The Civil War in Color

Guntzelman, John C. The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States. Sterling Publishing, New York, NY. Color and B/W photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 9781402790812, $35.

For perhaps the most hard-core out there the colorizing of Civil War photos would be considered blasphemy. In many ways I can see this viewpoint. The famous photo of Lincoln and McClellan at Sharpsburg or the dead body on the embalming table of Dr. Richard Burr, or the dead Confederate at Devil's Den in Gettysburg and countless others are burned into the minds of students of the war everywhere. These black and white images are the war in many ways much as video shot from planes or even warheads help define modern warfare today.

When you first thumb through this large coffee table sized book it is easy to think you are viewing a group of reenactors. We all know there was no color photography in the 1860's. Then you see a photo you recognize and you wonder what this is all about. What author John C. Guntzelman has done however is truly revolutionary.  

Before thinking that this is just a slap-dash job and colors applied randomly it is crucial to understand that much research went into this book. Guntzelman has studied the era and the writings of the war to determine best what colors are appropriate. Research was done on individual soldiers where appropriate and on battlefields as well with the result being what appears to be as accurate a "modern" view as we are likely to see of the war. Even with this research some latitude was available particularly in the area of civilian clothing.

The varied subject matter helps show the importance of this work. Chapters include fellow citizens, slaves, contrabands and freemen, soldiers & civilians, war machines, destruction, Lincoln, and casualties. By choosing this wide array of subject the author helps keep the book fresh as you go through it. Each photo includes a descriptive paragraph or two including information on the physical photo if known. The photos themselves are so interesting however that you might find yourself skipping the text portion to see what is next.

My only gripe, and it is really a small one, is that I would have liked to have seen the original black & white photo along side the newly colorized one for comparison. By doing this it would have allowed viewers an immediate way to see the impact of what had been accomplished. Of course in doing so we would not be treated to as many images that are included in the book. This becomes a toss up and we are certainly no less better off for the book being done as it is.

With the short attention span world we live in today many younger people will not have interest in exploring a large heavy tome with a bunch of old crusty looking black and white photos. This beautiful hardcover with bright images may be a different case though. For those with a passing interest this could be a trigger to bring them further in to the study of the Civil War. For those already caught up in the history of the war this is certainly one of those "must have" books. Overall it really is that good!

Thanks to Sterling Publishing for providing a complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Upcoming Post--Confederate General William "Extra Billy" Smith

Thanks to the good folks at Savas Beatie and also to author Scott L. Mingus Sr. for sending along a copy of Scott's newest book CONFEDERATE GENERAL WILLIAM "EXTRA BILLY" SMITH: From Virginia's Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat .

It's hard to believe that nobody has seriously taken up Smith as a subject until now. A brief reading of the dust jacket shows Smith to have been quite the character and somebody who is worthy of a full biography from the skilled pen of Mr. Mingus. I am looking forward to his views on Smith's actions at Gettysburg.

The book looks to be well illustrated and has numerous maps. The maps are from skilled cartographer Hal Jesperson. In other words this is a normal well produced book by Savas Beatie who are known for their top notch production values!

In order to whet your appetite a bit be sure to check out this brief interview with the author.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Robert E. Lee Monument in Florida Has Been Upgraded

Again, information from a Florida Sons of Confederate Veterans group regarding some work done on a Robert E. Lee monument.

Robert E. Lee Monument Gets a New Look
Tuesday April 30, 2013, the Robert E. Lee Monument in downtown Fort Myers, had a decorative fence installed on its base. The Major William M. Footman Camp #1950 Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter #2614, both of Fort Myers, made this project a priority. The Monument had received damage to its base due to skateboarders, and they felt it necessary to take steps to do something to protect the Monument. Representatives of both organizations, Shellie Weber of the UDC & Tom Fyock of the SCV, met with the Fort Myers Public Arts Committee and proposed a plan to install a fence to protect the Monument. After submitting drawings of the proposed fence, the Public Arts Committee gave their approval and support. Barry Crumpler, of
Gulf Coast Metal Works of Cape Coral, was contacted and he graciously agreed to provide the material, labor, and installation of the fence at no cost. Barry Crumpler & Nick Smith did the installation work, and the Monument now looks better than it ever has. The fence makes the Monument stand out like never before. Without their dedication and hard work, this project could not have been completed. Thank you just does not seem sufficient, for the effort and work that they put forth. I’m sure that General Lee is looking down and smiling, and very happy that the people of the County that bears his name, still care about this great gentleman and continue to honor his life.
T.M. Fyock-Adjutant
Major William M. Footman Camp #1950
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Civil War event in Tavares, Florida

I received this through email from my local SCV Camp Commander. Here is a link to the brand new Facebook page. Hopefully it will be updated soon with more information.