Sunday, December 2, 2007

Book review: Country's history resonates in present

For a history book to win outside of academia, it must be exhaustively researched, written well and have got some application to the present. Ann Hagedorn nails the trifecta with "Savage Peace," a faithful survey of 1919. One twelvemonth after the Armistice ended The Great War - later to be known as World War Iodine - the United States was wracked with familiar problems. People railed against controversial word forms of marriage, immigration, terrorism and unpopular military campaigns. Meanwhile, a president who was alternately painted as an dreamer and an enemy of civil rights struggled to progress his international agenda. Sometimes, 2007 looks like a rerun of 1919. For example, a protestation from Sen. Hiram Samuel Johnson is equally apropos in either decennary with some simple word substitution. "Why did we come in ____? I answer, for no very good reason; and we have got remained for no ground at all. And what is our policy toward ____? I reply we have got no policy. We have got engaged in a suffering misadventure, stultifying our professions, and scene at nothing our promises ... Bring the American male children place from ____." Insert Iraq, and it's 2007, but Samuel Johnson was actually protesting American deployment in Russia. In fact, Soviet Union was the popular enemy after the war. Bolsheviks were the terrorists of the Wind Age, and Archibald Robert Louis Stevenson targeted "reds" long before Senator Chief Joseph Mary McCarthy blacklisted anyone. Hagedorn is at her best when she is describing the forgotten and oppressed, much as she was in her history of the Belowground Railroad, "Beyond the River." For instance, Hagedorn states the narrative of Mabel Emeline Blowfish and Chester A. Arthur James Garfield Hazzard, two Bay State occupants who were prevented from marrying because Hazzard was achromatic and Blowfish white. Hagedorn slavishly poured through newspaper business relationships and composes the narrative as if she were following the couple with a notepad and pen. Hagedorn makes not utilize theatrical performance to pull strings the reader. Hagedorn rarely do direct connexions between 1919 and now. She makes not explicitly link interracial and homosexual marriage, the League of Nations with "the confederation of the willing," or Bolsheviks and Muslims. She prefers to associate history and allow readers pull their ain conclusions. Released earlier this year, "Savage Peace" covers a batch of ground. Prince Albert Einstein, W.E.B. Dubois, Head Justice Joseph Oliveer Wendell Sherlock Holmes Jr. and Helen Of Troy Helen Keller all brand appearances. Some of their narratives are more than interesting than others, but all are important. If nil else, Hagedorn successfully reminds us what a tempestuous clip 1919 was, and, by association, the present is.

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