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Archive for November, 2012

Three Men in a Boat should not be picked up by the casual American reader.  Written by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889 it has become a British comic classic, passing through many editions and movie adaptations.  If you fancy yourself an early twentieth century, middle class, privileged, single, British male, then you may enjoy this leisurely boat trip down the Thames.  For the rest of us, if you dropped your copy in the Thames, you would be relieved.  Charles Marlin

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It is not easy to be a great American President and it is just as hard to recognize one while he is still in office.  Early or late, it is uplifting to read about the great ones, whenever they served.  And with the great ones, there is never a shortage of wonderful books to enjoy; but you can never have too many such books backed up waiting for your attention.  Add Gabor Boritt, The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows; and then when no one is watching, slip it into the stack up near the top or even on the top.

This is not a military history of the battle or the war, nor is it a political history of the conflict.  It is an empathetic description of the dead and dying, and the wounded and sick of this singularly important battle.  You learn the inadequate response to the fallen and injured by the military as well as both governments, contrasted to the heroic efforts of national volunteers and the Gettysburg community, especially the women of the town.

In small part, it is a history of the creation of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  It is at its most interesting part when detailing the contemporary response to Lincoln’s address, and on to the ground swell of admiration and interpretation since then and now.  It is a biography of a speech of two hundred and seventy-two words.

You will be moved.  You will be inspired.  You will be proud to be an American.  Charles Marlin

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