Julie A. Campbell, editor
William M. S. Rasmussen and Robert S. Tilton, George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999. xv + 328 pp. $24.95 (soft cover).
Rasmussen, the curator of art at the Virginia Historical Society, and Tilton, a professor of American literature and American studies, have done it again. Their 1994 catalog for the VHS exhibit, Pocahontas: Her Life & Legend, set a high standard with its combination of history, art, and prose. With this new and quite substantial catalog, they meet their own standard with a fresh look at George Washington.
Washington's story is well known, of course, but in the two hundred years since his death, distortions, falsehoods, and myths have entwined with the truth to produce a popular yet sometimes unreliable picture. Artists over the centuries have only added to that image, depicting Washington's youth, family life, wartime duty, presidential service, and old age with varying degrees of accuracy. Artists have also worked under the influence of their times, and popular culture has treated Washington in a variety of ways, often elevating him into a moral and patriotic paragon and forgetting that he was a flesh-and-blood human, a product of colonial Virginia. Rasmussen and Tilton examine it all.
The book is big and handsome, packed with 261 color and black-and-white images: paintings, documents, rooms at Mount Vernon, architectural plans in Washington's own hand, and so on. Extensive endnotes and a useful index make it useful for scholarly types. The authors' accessible writing style and a knack for blending several themes make the book a good read for anyone interested in understanding the real GeorgeWashington.
—reviewed by Julie A. Campbell, Editor, Virginia Cavalcade
John P. Kaminski, ed., Jefferson in Love: The Love Letters Between Thomas Jefferson & Maria Cosway. Madison, Wis.: Madison House Publishers, Inc., 1999. xiii + 138 pp. $16.95 (hardcover).
In August 1786, Thomas Jefferson began the best-documented romantic encounter of his life. The widower from Virginia, then in Paris as American minister to France, met and evidently fell deeply in love with Maria Hadfield Cosway, a twenty-seven-year-old Italian woman of English parentage. Despite the inconvenient presence of her husband, English artist Richard Cosway, Jefferson was immediately smitten by her beauty, charm, and gifts as an artist and musician, and they spent much of the next several weeks in each other's company.
In his first letter to her after her return to London, Jefferson included his extraordinary and justly renowned "Dialogue between my Head and my Heart," in which the Head upbraids the Heart for its passionate folly, and the Heart basically tells the Head to mind its own business. The lengthy and emotionally charged essay was rendered more astonishing because Jefferson wrote it with his left hand, having broken his right wrist during a coltish effort to impress Cosway by jumping over a fence.
The apparent passion of the relationship was unsustained. A year later Cosway came to Paris for several months, alone this time, but she and Jefferson each seemed to have waited for the other to make the first move, and they wound up seeing little of each other. They never met again, but corresponded regularly for the rest of Jefferson's stay in Europe and much less frequently thereafter.
Historians ever since have pondered the Head and Heart dialogue, a maddeningly enigmatic but still uniquely revealing glimpse into Jefferson's emotional world, and the exact nature of the Jefferson-Cosway relationship. Many have argued that the Head triumphs in the letter, which this reviewer denies, or that it quickly reasserted its habitual rule thereafter, which seems much more defensible. Others have wondered whether Jefferson and Cosway shared only a conventional if extravagantly worded friendship, a passionate but platonic love, or a brief sexual liaison.
The developing consensus that Jefferson was not perpetually celibate after his wife's death needs to be considered on the latter point, but the only direct evidence on his involvement with Cosway remains their correspondence. In Jefferson in Love, John P. Kaminski collects the fifty-eight letters Jefferson and Cosway exchanged through 1790. Concluding that there is a clear drop-off in their emotional intensity thereafter, he omits the thirteen letters that concluded the epistolary conversation, a decision that some readers will regret, but one which is remedied to some extent by a summary in the introduction.
All of the letters in the slim volume that results have in fact already been printed in the Princeton edition of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. But Kaminski's book, complete with a few essential annotations, an elegant introduction, and a useful bibliography, provides a much handier way for general readers to draw their own conclusions about this fascinating interlude and the complex personalities of the two key players therein.
—reviewed by J. Jefferson Looney, Senior Editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Anya Jabour, Marriage in the Early Republic: Elizabeth and William Wirt and the Companionate Ideal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. ix + 217 pp. $42.00.
In 1803, newlyweds William Wirt and Elizabeth Gamble of Virginia described a marriage based on companionship and reciprocity as their "beau ideal." Yet, as Anya Jabour argues, their thirty-year marriage reveals the "fault lines" between the nineteenth-century egalitarian ideal of marriage and the traditional hierarchical relationship between a patriarch and his wife. Intended as a contribution to the fields of family and gender history, Marriage in the Early Republic tests historians' interpretations of the development of companionate marriage through a case study of an elite couple residing in the Upper South. Ultimately, Jabour concludes, "a fundamental inequity between men and women" undermined the Wirts' efforts to achieve their beau ideal.
The Wirts envisioned themselves as partners in finance, parenthood, and romance, but William's professional ambitions and the domestic constraints that their ten children placed upon Elizabeth stymied their plans. In their beau ideal, Elizabeth's domestic production complemented William's law practice, and the parents cooperated to home-school their children and live together in domestic bliss.
As the couple's extensive correspondence reveals, however, Elizabeth and William spent much of their married life apart. William traveled to courts throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, while Elizabeth struggled to maintain a household and to coax her husband to live a quiet life at home. Although William sighed often that his "happiness, dearest Betsey, is always at home," he also expressed great satisfaction with a career that culminated with his appointment as United States Attorney General in 1817. Betsey, isolated at home by William's absence and frustrated by his discounting of her contributions to the household economy, assented "reluctantly" to a marriage in which husband and wife played different roles and held unequal shares of power.
Ironically, William's role as the family's provider shut him off from its domestic life. While William's income provided the home, Elizabeth was the central parental figure to whom their children turned most often for guidance and love. And, at William's death, Betsey also proved the better economist, transforming his vast debts into a sizeable legacy for the Wirt children. To their frustration, the Wirts never achieved their ideal companionate marriage. As Jabour demonstrates, however, they did ease away from the patriarchal family structure and move haltingly toward the nineteenth-century family that placed the mother at the center of the household.
—reviewed by Mary Carroll Johansen, Research Associate, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Cynthia A. Kierner, Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South, 1700-1835. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998. xii + 295 pp. $55.00 (hardcover), $18.95 (softcover).
This subtle and sophisticated analysis of the evolution of the stereotype of the southern lady, and of the differences between the stereotype and actual reality, bridges a gap between some of the best new scholarship on women in the colonial period and on women in the nineteenth century. It focuses on white women in Virginia and the Carolinas, but it considers the implications for women's history in other portions of the South and points out similarities and differences between Northern and Southern women.
Kierner makes excellent use of letters, diaries, biographies, works of art, and other resources to document the changing roles of white women of different classes and places. After the American Revolution, women tended to recede from prominent public participation in activities that had overtly partisan political overtones, but the increased emphasis that they and their society placed on the religious, moral, and educational responsibilities of women enabled them, in spite of a growing expectation that women would confine their influences to their homes and families, to engage in cooperative and public projects on behalf of education, religious instruction, care of the poor and orphans, and reform movements, such as the temperance movement.
This left them room to maneuver within what was supposed to have been a confined sphere of influence, and after the period under consideration in this volume, many women emerged again in more overtly political roles when educational and moral issues again took prominent place in political discourse.
Rather like the women described in Anne Firor Scott's The Southern Lady, the subjects of Cynthia Kierner's Beyond the Household conformed in many respects to their culture's expectation that they would be genteel influences for good within their allotted place in the home, but they also took part in public activities that were logical extensions of that domestic role.
—reviewed by Brent Tarter, Editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Richard R. Duncan, Lee's Endangered Left: The Civil War in Western Virginia, Spring of 1864. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999. xvi + 346 pp. $29.95.
The Civil War in western Virginia is a fertile field for modern scholarly research. The Valley Campaign of 1864 in particular has been long neglected, lacking a narrative treating the campaigns in the region as a whole. No prior work has combined the conflict in southwestern Virginia, the battle at New Market, Gen. David Hunter's movements, and Gen. Jubal Early's Valley campaign into one comprehensive study. To remedy this void, Richard R. Duncan, a professor of history at Georgetown University, has blended recent research with the older standard works to produce an insightful, readable, and enjoyable narrative.
From the outset, Duncan intends to demonstrate that the campaigning in western Virginia was part of an larger, overall strategy for both Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant; both generals considered the Valley their western flank. Lee depended upon the agriculturally rich Shenandoah Valley for subsistence, and the salt works and lead mines in southwestern Virginia were vital to the survival of the Confederacy. Lee's western transportation systems, especially the railroads, were important links to the West. When the Federal army began its coordinated offensive in the spring of 1864, Grant understood the need to apply constant pressure in this region. Both Lee and Grant attempted to play on the other's fears for the safety of the area.
When Hunter took charge after the Union thrust in the Valley stalled at the Battle of New Market, the entire complexion of the war changed, with the focus of the fighting moving down the Shenandoah and away from the southwest. After the Federal occupation of Staunton, however, the Union faltered. Momentum again swung to the Confederacy as the Southern forces swept down the Valley, but then Gen. Philip Sheridan whipped Jubal Early at Winchester and Cedar Creek, thus effectively ending the Southern presence in the Valley.
A great strength of the book is its emphasis on the plight of the inhabitants of the Valley. Although a common theme in modern scholarship, surprising little has been done on the effects of the fighting on the civilian population in this war-torn region. (A recent exception is John L. Heatwole's The Burning: Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, reviewed in the January/February/March 1999 issue of Virginia Libraries.) Although at times both sides displayed compassion and humanity, Hunter's policy of living off the country ensured many atrocities, which Duncan chronicles.
Duncan is more concerned with the overall strategies of the armies, and he advises readers to look elsewhere for more thorough treatments of the individual battles. He does, however, render remarkably good and engaging summaries of skirmishes and battles. Anyone desiring a comprehensive overview of the 1864 Valley Campaign, or with an interest in Lee's overall military strategy in 1864, would be well served by reading this book.
—reviewed by Eddie Woodward, Local Records Archivist
J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Buff Facings and Gilt Buttons: Staff and Headquarters Operations in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. xv + 352 pp. $29.95.
This volume grew out of the author's preparations for guiding fellow army officers on junkets to Civil War battlefields. Bartholomees, a professor of military history at the United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, learned quickly that the superficial information that usually assuaged curious visitors to Gettysburg or Antietam would not begin to satisfy the demanding questions that a busload of knowledgeable army officers put to him. Moreover, a surprising number of these questions concerned staff procedures and operations. As Bartholomees cast about for information on the topic, he discovered that few published sources existed, and those treated only certain aspects of staff work rather than the entire subject in a general, comprehensive fashion. His efforts to fill that void became a project that became this book.
Readers who enjoy military history, especially the American Civil War, are familiar with the activities of general staff personnel; they come and go during the action with their odd-sounding, inscrutable titles and seem to have important functions, but few readers know about the variety of duties and responsibilities involved. To clarify the importance of staff work and believing, from personal experience, that army staffs develop individual styles that come to resemble a unique personality, Bartholomees limited his field of study to a single working model: the staff operations of the Army of Northern Virginia. He focuses on the activities of the chief of staff, the adjutant general, and inspector general, including the logistical staff personnel, among them the quartermasters and commissary officers, as well as other officers. Complicating his study is the knowledge that this army was a semi-modern organization attempting to deal in traditional ways with problems that were essentially modern.
Buff Facings and Gilt Buttons is aimed at readers who are already familiar with both the war and the operations of the Army of Northern Virginia. Working in original documents as well as published primary and secondary sources, the author has taken what he believes is a major step toward furnishing an understanding of this subject, but he acknowledges that a vast amount of unpublished primary documents remains unexamined and invites further analysis. A long-needed work on a neglected topic, Bartholomees's examination—of those soldiers whose activities have stayed in the background but whose work made the efficient operations of the army possible and counted no little toward its victories—is a necessary addition to any library collection.
—reviewed by Don Gunter, Assistant Editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie, Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860-1900. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. xv + 295 pp. $55.00 (hardcover), $18.95 (softcover).
Scholarly studies of the experiences of former slaves during the years and decades after emancipation are currently a popular form of historical literature. There are already several books that treat individual Virginia localities, but there is as yet no general study for the entire state. This volume falls in between. It focuses on the portions of Virginia where tobacco remained the main agricultural commodity at the time of the Civil War.
The bulk of the volume treats the changing economic conditions in which the freed people lived and worked in the thirty-five years after the end of the Civil War. There are chapters on politics and on Hampton Institute, but there is little about education in general, and there is very little about religion and churches, non-agricultural labor, urban life, or family life. There is almost nothing specifically about women and children, and there is comparatively little about the lives of individual people. Because of the nature of the sources, the volume's descriptions and voices are for the most part the words of white commentators. It is therefore still an incomplete portrait of life for the freed people in the tobacco belt of Virginia.
The overall account of how the changing tobacco economy altered the economic climate in which the freed people (and many of the white farmers and operatives, too) lived is thorough and interesting. It invites more detailed analysis of how those changing circumstances changed the lives of the people who planted tobacco, worked in the tobacco factories, or had to change their means of making a living as the tobacco processing and marketing industries changed.
—mdash;reviewed by Brent Tarter, Editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Bruce Adelson, Brushing Back Jim Crow: The Integration of Minor League Baseball in the American South. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999. 275 pp. $27.95.
Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in major-league baseball and his artistry as a player have made him an American icon. Most baseball aficionados will also recognize the name of Larry Doby, the first African American to play in the American League. This book shifts our attention from the big league's northern cities such as Brooklyn, Detroit, and Cleveland to the minor-league parks scattered across Dixie. In places as different as Danville, Virginia, and Birmingham, Alabama, young black men integrated white teams in the heartland of segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. Never removed from southern Jim Crowism and the civil-rights struggle that raged in those same years, these black pioneers faced a very different experience than those who quickly made it to the majors. Adelson's chronological treatment weaves together the personal stories of the ballplayers and the battle against Jim Crow.
Adelson tells the men's stories largely through their own words and other contemporary sources. Long excerpts from numerous interviews with ballplayers, teammates, managers, sportswriters, and newspapers carry the narrative. Some of the ballplayers are well known: Henry Aaron, Willie McCovey, and Willie Mays all played in the southern minor leagues on their way to stardom, McCovey and Mays for the Danville Giants.
The most poignant memories are from men who never reached those heights, for they endured many years of life on the road in the southern leagues and faced a segregated society roiling with change. The ballplayers' straightforward recollections of brushing back Jim Crow are tinged with wit, irony, and sometimes bitterness. They also reveal an abiding love for a game that placed them on the front lines of integration.
—mdash;reviewed by Gregg D. Kimball, Assistant Director, Publications and Educational Services Division
William L. Whitesides, Sr., ed., Reinvention of the Public Library for the 21st Century. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited Inc., 1998. xxvi + 302 pp. $40.00.
Bill Whitesides is known to many readers of Virginia Libraries from his long career in the state, including service in the Library Development and Networking Division of the Library of Virginia. In 1996 he taught a graduate-level course on "The Public Library," offered by the Catholic University School of Library and Information Science through the University of Richmond. He searched unsuccessfully for a suitable textbook and then had an idea. Why not have the class write a book about public libraries on the edge of a new millennium? This publication is the result.
The approach that the class followed for analyzing the "reinvention" of public libraries occupies a middle ground: public libraries that can effectively combine the old and the new are most likely to flourish through a time of swift changes. Rather than prescribing a single path for librarians to follow, the book actually is most valuable as a sourcebook. Twelve chapters cover such topics as technology, support groups, and services, and each provides a survey of the professional literature on all the topics. The authors also developed a set of discussion questions for each chapter, which help to frame the issues for readers.
The students then identified recent recipients of the Gale Research/Library Journal "Public Library of the Year" awards (none of them Virginia libraries, it must be admitted). A member of the class contacted people in charge at each of these exemplary institutions to learn how they were preparing for the future. The book closes with reports on practices at thirteen of the nation's best public libraries. Students of library science will be grateful for this book, and anyone involved in administration of public libraries will find it an informative resource. Bill Whitesides's inspiration even benefited himself. Now he has the textbook that he needed for his course.
—reviewed by John T. Kneebone, Director, Publications and Educational Services Division
Michele Gillespie and Catherine Clinton, eds., Taking Off the White Gloves: Southern Women and Women Historians. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998. x + 186 pp. $27.50.
Many southern women, myself included, have donned white gloves for special occasions. Gloves of various lengths, from wrist to elbow, are still trotted out for weddings, proms, and beauty pageants. Michele Gillespie and Catherine Clinton, editors of this collection of ten essays, explain in their introduction that by taking the gloves off, scholars free themselves for the demanding work of writing women back into history. Many shed their gloves in 1970, when the Southern Association of Women Historians (SAWH) was formed, and slip into them now only to handle fragile archival materials.
The book contains a selection of the addresses given annually to the SAWH by a who's who of historians: Mary Frederickson, Suzanne Lebsock, Catherine Clinton, Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton, Theda Perdue, Jean B. Lee, Anne Firor Scott, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Carol Bleser, and Darlene Clark Hine. Their essays cover a broad spectrum of topics, including women workers in the twentieth-century South, the southern experience in the American Revolution, and female leadership of the Southern Historical Association. Two authors deal with topics related to Virginia. Theda Perdue thoughtfully examines the relationship between native women and European men (mentioning Pocahontas and John Smith), and Suzanne Lebsock outlines Virginia's woman suffrage movement and traces its ties to white supremacy.
While increasing our understanding of women in the past, these essays also help us understand women in the present. What is the status of women in the historical profession? What is the research process really like? What is the connection between women's history and women's activism? How can race and gender be written into political history? What was it like to be a female graduate student in the 1960s? How is history written, and why is it important? Sifting through research notes and crafting words into sentences, paragraphs, and pages is hard work, Glenda Gilmore explains, but when historians "get really lucky, magic happens; we find a voice, stories spill out, arguments leap up into topic sentences, conclusions cohere." Women historians of the South raise their voices in *Taking Off the White Gloves,* creating a book that is interesting and informative.
—reviewed by Jennifer Davis McDaid, Assistant Editor, Virginia Cavalcade
Mary Kemp Davis, Nat Turner Before the Bar of Judgment: Fictional Treatments of the Southampton Slave Insurrection. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999. xiv + 298 pp. $30.00.
Mary Kemp Davis, an associate professor of English at Florida A&M University, examines six fictional accounts of Nat Turner's 1831 insurrection in Southampton, Virginia. She begins by exploring the historical events and responses surrounding the insurrection and the publication in 1831 of Thomas Gray's The Confessions of Nat Turner, which William Styron used in his 1967 book of the same name. The six novels are The Old Dominion; or, The Southampton Massacre by George Payne Rainsford James (1856); Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1856); Homoselle by Mary Spear Tiernan (1881); Their Shadows Before: A Story of the Southampton Insurrection by Pauline Carrington Rust Bouvé (1899); Ol' Prophet Nat by Daniel Panger (1967); and Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner. Davis concludes her discussion with Dessa Rose (1986), written by Sherley Anne Williams in response to Styron.
Davis traces the origins of the book to her college introduction to Styron's novel and her continuing fascination with Nat Turner. The work is an outgrowth of her Ph.D. dissertation, The Historical Slave Revolt and the Literary Imagination (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1984). Her intent is "to show how each novel contrives to extract a 'verdict' from its plot." Davis begins her discussion by deconstructing the earlier texts relating to the trials: Governor John Floyd's official address to the General Assembly on 6 December 1831, the trial transcripts, articles in the Richmond Enquirer and Richmond Constitutional Whig, and Gray's The Confessions of Nat Turner.
These texts, especially Confessions, which resulted from Gray's deposition of Turner over three days, serve as the basic documents from which the later novels drew material. Davis concludes that these texts all purport to represent the "true" Nat Turner but ultimately fail to achieve the truth about the revolt because the writers cannot decide on Turner's essential nature. Is his religious fanaticism a legitimate explanation for the events or is Turner simply a madman?
Her fundamental argument is that the novelists use the Nat Turner Revolt as a dramatic device without achieving a true image of Turner himself. Davis points out that the novelists were (and are) white and that no African Americans have written fictional accounts of Turner. She finds this curious, but does not explore the reasons why this might be. In her final chapter, Davis compares Styron's Confessions to Dessa Rose. For Davis, Williams is the only novelist to come close to the oral tradition of African American culture and to break free of the previous novelists' reliance on the published record, which suppresses the voices of Nat Turner and his followers.
The book is geared toward an academic audience, not the general public. For readers unfamiliar with the language of deconstruction, it makes for tough reading. Davis cautions readers to remember that, although novels are works of fiction, they are produced within an historical context and that their encoded language must not be taken at face value. In this, she is preaching to the choir.
—reviewed by Barbara Batson, Exhibits Coordinator
Steve Nash, Blue Ridge 2020: An Owner's Manual. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. xviii + 211 pp. $19.95 (soft cover).
The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to three national parks, seven national forests, twenty-nine wilderness areas, parts of the Appalachian Trail, and numerous state parks, forests, and natural areas. The Blue Ridge is also home to almost as many species of mammals, snakes, birds, fish, flowering plants, and trees as Europe, and it encompasses the largest concentration of public land east of the Mississippi. Steve Nash, associate professor of journalism at the University of Richmond and a reporter on environmental issues for BioScience, National Parks, and the Washington Post, summarizes the work of scientists and other professionals in government and academia to explore the present environmental status of the Blue Ridge and to suggest ways we can save the mountains for future generations.
In a conversational tone that forsakes scientific jargon, Nash discusses a number of issues. He examines endangered species and the deleterious effects of non-native species on the natives. He postulates, for example, that Major James Dooley, creator of what is now Richmond's Maymont Park, may have inadvertently introduced to Virginia an Asian insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, when he acquired a Japanese hemlock for Maymont in the early years of the twentieth century. The insect now infests hemlocks of the Blue Ridge. Taking over a new ten-to-fifteen-mile area each year, the woolly adelgids endanger the trees, and perhaps may make extinct the Carolina hemlock.
Nash also discusses acid rain (mostly caused by coal-burning power plants), ozone pollution, and other forms of pollution in the Blue Ridge environment. In addition, he explores the encroachment of humans with housing developments and deforestation and the resulting endangerment of the natural environment. And he looks at the effects of uncertain federal and state government funding of research, and the lack of legislative, governmental, and public support to preserve the Blue Ridge. Nash concludes with a review of the various initiatives that have recently been undertaken, especially on the local level, to undo the damage and discusses Americans' need to become more aware of and sensitive to our responsibilities for preserving this important area. Maps, tables, and several informative sidebars titled "Solutions" round out his picture of an imperiled ecosystem.
—reviewed by Emily J. Salmon, Senior Copy Editor
The next time you pitch camp at Black Horse Gap on the Appalachian Trail, "be sure to keep an eye on the Sundrops while you prepare breakfast," advises Leonard M. Adkins, a resident of Catawba, Virginia. "The tightly wound, reddish orange, tapering buds will begin to spread outward, eventually opening up to become deep-golden blossoms whose pigment mimics that of the solar orb rising higher into the sky." For more such enjoyable and poetic descriptions, not to mention attractive illustrations by Georgia photographers Joe and Monica Cook, add to your backpack Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail (Birmingham, Alabama: Menasha Ridge Press, 1999. x + 214 pp. $15.95 softcover).
Of special interest to local historians and genealogists: Virginia Lee Hutcheson Davis has prepared Tidewater Virginia Families: Generations Beyond (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998. 221 pp. $45.00), a supplement to her 1990 book, Tidewater Virginia Families. Davis has added eleven families to the original forty, all connected to the Hutcheson, Peatross, Butler, and Lee clans, and has included information on homes, graveyards, sibling lines, and personal anecdotes.
Quentin P. Taylor, a scholar of politics and humanities, has edited The Essential Federalist: A New Reading of the Federalist Papers (Madison, Wisconsin: Madison House Publishers, Inc., 1998. xi + 183 pp. $28.95 hardcover, $16.95 soft cover). Taylor has distributed among nine topical chapters the core of the complete Papers, about one-fourth the length of the original. According to John P. Kaminski (editor of Madison House's Jefferson in Love, reviewed elsewhere in this column), of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution (under whose banner this book is published), "the best of the writing and all of the key ideas have been preserved" and "Taylor has made The Federalist Papers truly accessible." Taylor adds a biographical essay on each of the three authors of the papers, including Virginian James Madison, and an essay on the historical context of the writings.
Three recent titles touch on religious and spiritual themes. Virginia librarian K. Paul Johnson says of his book Edgar Cayce in Context: The Readings: Truth and Fiction (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. xi + 178 pp. $18.95 soft cover) that its goal "is to initiate consideration of Cayce in historical context as a major figure in twentieth-century American spirituality." Cayce (1877-1945) became known as the "Sleeping Prophet" for his advice on health, Christianity, psychology, reincarnation, Atlantis, and other matters, which he gave while in a trance. Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), located in Virginia Beach, outlived him and is today a center of New Age study. Johnson briefly examines Cayce's readings and discusses his peers but invites other scholars to conduct in-depth research.
Nancy B. Detweiler, of Richmond, has written a kind of spiritual scrapbook of her life, A New Age Christian: My Spiritual Journey (Richmond: Bridging the Gap Ministries, 1998. 236 pp. $24.95 soft cover). Some of her concerns, such as reincarnation and Christ consciousness, echo those of Edgar Cayce; others, such as karma, astrology, and numerology, derive from spiritual and metaphysical practices all over the world. Underpinning the entire narrative is her struggle to reconcile her Christianity with her New Age beliefs.
The late Robert R. Brown, an Episcopal bishop with a divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, wrote an extended meditation titled "And One Was a Soldier": The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Robert E. Lee (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: White Mane Publishing Co., 1998. xvii + 125 pp. $19.95). Brown based his thoughtful book on his own extensive knowledge of the Civil War and of Lee, although he acknowledged that "there is no way of measuring precisely the depth of his [Lee's] faith, particularly as he was such an uncommunicative man." However, wrote Brown, "I think the subject important enough to try."
Civil War Bookends:
Louisiana State University Press has reissued a book by Confederate spy Belle Boyd, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison (Baton Rouge: 1865, reprint 1999. 268 pp. $16.95 soft cover). Scholars Drew Gilpin Faust and Sharon Kennedy-Nolle add a foreword and introduction that discuss Boyd in the light of recent scholarship on women and the Civil War.
The Bison Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press continues its steady stream of Civil War reissues in soft cover, beginning with a book by Virginian Clifford Dowdey, Lee & His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation (393 pp. $16.95). The work focuses on the Army of Northern Virginia; it is the first of a trilogy, the other titles of which are also Bison Books. George Dallas Mosgrove published Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman (xiii + 282 pp. $15.00 soft cover) in 1895. He approvingly compared the Shenandoah Valley to his home's bluegrass country, enjoyed a visit to the Natural Bridge, and paid his respects at Stonewall Jackson's grave. One of Mosgrove's opponents, Rufus R. Dawes, wrote A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade: Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers (xv + 330 pp. $16.95) in 1890, basing his account on a wartime journal and on letters to his family back in Ohio. Dawes fought all over Virginia, including the great battles at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Cold Harbor.
-reviewed by Julie A. Campbell