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Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

Archive for March 2009

The Best of Political Philosophy

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Every free minute I get of late, I tune into Steven B. Smith’s outstanding course on Academicearth.org titled Introduction to Political Philosophy. I am re-reading Plato’s The Republic with a version on my Kindle 2 and a regular copy of The Republic of Plato, Allan Bloom’s highly regarded translation. Steven Smith, Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science at Yale University, has a distinctive teaching style that I find quite good.

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I hope to make my way through the reading list as follows.

Plato, Trial and Death of Socrates
Plato, Republic
Aristotle, Politics
Machiavelli, The Prince
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Political Writings
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

On Change

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Heraclitus, 1628, Oil on panel, 85.5 cm × 70 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Wasn’t it Heraclitus who said that “nothing endures but change?”

Change has certainly been afoot again at my workplace. We have a large reorganization/downsizing underway, something that is occurring in many organizations across the globe. I have been reassigned to a new but old role, one that returns me to a position I thoroughly enjoy albeit with added responsibilities. I have been buried in the tasks of staffing and all of the firestorm of activities that accompany organizational shift.

That said, I have had to postpone my class, “Civil War Strategy and Tactics” until the term starting in early May. On the bright side, I may be able to catch up with some reading.

Written by Rene Tyree

March 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution

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I was delighted to find a package from Oxford University Press waiting at my door this afternoon and in it was a review copy of the new paperback edition of Terry Bouton’s Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution. This looks to be a fascinating read, one that presents a more accurate picture of the founding fathers and the common man of the era.

This from the pre-publicity…

The Founding Fathers are generally considered the most highly regarded Americans in the history of our country; celebrated as the brave and noble group of visionaries who banded together to overthrow the British and bring democracy to the land. Yet what if, contrary to popular belief, these fondly remembered individuals weren’t the great purveyors of freedom for all that we accept them to be?

Taming Democracy devotes much of its pages to the ordinary citizens who protested against the Founding Fathers’ hypocrisy. Common citizens of all back grounds did everything from run for political office to organize political parties and uprisings against what they labeled “united avarice” controlled by “moneyed men.”

It’s worth noting that this book was recipient of the Philip S. Klein Book Prize of the Pennsylvania Historical Association and received Honorable Mention, Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award.

boutonTerry Bouton is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and holds a PhD from Duke University. His homepage at the university can be accessed here.

New Kindle 2 Book Acquisitions – Military Strategists

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I’ve added some titles to my Kindle 2. I own print versions of most of these but want to use the text-to-speech capabilities of the Kindle 2 to review them again while mobile.

jominiartofwar1

  • Title: The Art of War
  • Author: Antoine de Jomini, Capt. G.H. Mendell, Lieut. W.P. Craighill
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1387 KB
  • Publisher: MyEclectica.com (March 14, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00162BZDW

clausewitz-on-war

  • Title: On War
  • Author: Carl con Clausewitz
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1088 KB
  • Publisher: MyEclectica.com (February 22, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00156DW1C

theartofcommandinganarmy

  • Title: The Art of Commanding An Army
  • Author: Frederick the Great
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 107 KB
  • Publisher: MacMay (November 26, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001M5U5O8

withfrederickthegreat

  • Title: With Frederick the Great: A Story of the Seven Years’ War
  • Author: G. A. Henty
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 586 KB
  • Publisher: LeClue (February 7, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0013L9678

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Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction

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LincolnThe good folks at Oxford University Press recently sent me a review copy of Allen C. Guelzo’s Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction. I’m a fan of OUP’s “A Very Short Introduction” series which you can view in its entirety here or by clicking on the picture below. Their advantage is, obviously, their conciseness. I look forward to reading this one.

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Professor Guelzo is the Luce Professor of Civil War Era Studies/Professor of History, Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College and you can view his profile here. He holds an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Allen C. Guelzo

This just in – Amazon Kindle for iPhone Application

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kindle-on-iphone

Amazon hit my mailbox with their announcement about the launch of a Kindle application for the iPhone and iPhone Touch. This effectively makes available to iPhone users the 240,000 books currently in the Kindle Store. I know my previous posts on my new Kindle 2 (see below) generated a lot of discussion so I’ll be interested in whether any of you iPhone users plan to give this a try. I have an iPhone Touch and will give it a go myself. I’ve heard some of you say that you have some challenges reading books on your iPhone so will be interested in your thoughts. I’m assuming the size factor is one of the key issues.

Of note, I’ve read posts around the net about rumors of a larger Kindle targeted toward the student market. I’ve heard it would be 81/2 by 11 inches and thus perfect for textbooks and  storing school documents or journal reading assignments. VERY COOL if it happens. The Kindle 2 missed some rumored launch dates so rumors are rumors.

The folks at Oxford University Press seem to be jumping on the Kindle bandwagon. As I mentioned in my post titled Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North, Weber’s book is available in a Kindle version. Also, their dictionary is preloaded on Kindle 2 and can provide word-by-word definitions at the bottom of the page as you read through a book if you so desire.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon will port their application to other phones and networks in the near future. Sprint’s Instinct, HTC Touch, and the upcoming Palm Pre (I want one) would seem to be excellent options.

What this does signal is another way to quickly download, carry, and read not only books in print but the myriad of “public domain” documents available, many being primary source material. See my previous post here on just a few of those titles already loaded on Amazon for download at either no charge or minimal charge that should be of interest to those into 19th century American and / or the American Civil War.

Here are quick links to the previous posts on Kindle 2. I recommend, if you are intrigued and considering a Kindle 2, that you read the comments.

My New Kindle 2
More on My New Kindle 2
WOW – This just In! Kindle Store has 7000 Public Domain Books including Civil War Memoirs
Free or Inexpensive American Civil War Titles for Kindle

Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North

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copperheads1

The good folks at Oxford University Press have sent me a review copy of Jennifer L. Weber’s book, Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North. I’m very much looking forward to reading Weber’s work as it addresses the political war that was in play during the American Civil War in the North.  This quick excerpt from the back jacket gives a taste of the ferocity of that conflict.

The Northern home-front during the Civil War was far from tranquil. Fierce political debates set communities on edge, spurred secret plots against the Union, and triggered widespread violence. At the heart of all the turmoil stood the anti-war Democrats, nicknamed “Copperheads.” Now, Jennifer L. Weber offers the first full-length portrait of this powerful faction to appear in almost half a century. Weber reveals how the Copperheads came perilously close to defeating Lincoln and ending the war in the South’s favor.

Note that James M. McPherson provides the foreword.

jennifer_weberDr. Weber is an Assistant Professor with the Department of History at Kansas University and you can see her profile on the campus site here. Oxford University Press provides an online Q & A with Dr. Weber on her book here.

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (October 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195306686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195306682
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Note that this book is also available in a Kindle edition.
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