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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The 1960s  by Timothy P. Maga (Eyewitness History Series: Facts on File) Whether they voted for John F. Kennedy or not, most Americans were ready for a change in 1960. From politics to the entertainment industry, both the country’s leaders and followers sought new directions, heroes, and missions. Kennedy served as the first leader of this uncharted path to the “New Frontier,” and for a while it seemed like anything was possible, from the end of racism and poverty to an American on the Moon. Reality soon suggested something different. The 1960s covers all aspects of this explosive and exciting decade, including the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of John F. and Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Vietnam War; popular culture icons such as the Beach Boys, Beatles, and Rolling Stones; Hippies; Yippies; race riots; and many other topics.

The 1960s, a new addition to Facts On File’s critically acclaimed Eyewitness History series, provides hundreds of firsthand accounts of the period from letters, speeches, and newspaper accounts—that illustrate how important historical events appeared to those who lived through them. In addition to these firsthand accounts, each chapter provides an introductory essay and a chronology of events.

Chapters include:

  1. To the “New Frontier”: January 1960—December 1961
  2. Lost in the Cold War: January 1962—September 1962
  3. Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis: October 1962—December 1963
  4. All the Way with LBJ”: 1964—1965   
  5. Beach Boys America : 1966—1967
  6. The Perils of Power: 1968
  7. How the “Sixties” End: 1969—1970

The book, written by Timothy P. Maga, who holds the Oglesby Chair of American Heritage at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, also includes excerpts from such informative documents as the Civil Rights Acts of 1960, 1964, and 1968, President Kennedy’s inaugural address, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, President Kennedy’s report about the Soviet arms buildup in Cuba, and President Nixon’s address to the nation on the Vietnam War, as well as capsule biographies of more than 75 key figures, seven maps and graphs, reference notes, a bibliogra­phy, an index, and more than 85 black-and-white illustrations.

This comprehensive volume, with a foreword by Donald A. Ritchie, associate historian in the U.S. Senate Historical Office, chronicles a time everyone will appreciate, either reliving or studying for the first time, a time when events reshaped the world. The 1960s will take you there.

 The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self by John C. Shields (University of Tennessee Press) At first glance, the title of this book may suggest that my aim is to resurrect an ancient Mediterranean cultural grid and then impose it on American thought and culture. In fact, I intend no such resurrection. Nor do I wish to burden the idea of America with some new cultural construct, external or otherwise. Instead, what I propose in this volume is the recovery of a heretofore lost key which unlocks the American self.

Few would dispute that the two modes of discourse which govern the cultures of Europe are the classical and the Judaeo-Christian. Yet conventional wisdom holds that, when Anglo­Europeans, excluding other races and/or ethnicities, colonized the Atlantic shores of what would become the United States of America, these colonizers brought with them only the strand of Judaeo-Christianity. Somehow the classical strand jumped ship on the way over. Many claim that true Americanness resides exclusively within the myth` of Adam.' At present these claimants, in a latter‑day jeremiad, energetically urge the American public to "return" to what is alleged to have been the founding fathers' Christian values. However, I have found the tenets of the Adamic myth (the Judaeo­Christian mythos) insufficient to explain the obvious secularity of the American people.

This book argues that both the largely spiritual Adamic discourse and the largely secular classical discourse crossed over from Europe. These two modes have intermingled dynamically in such a way that both have become rearticulated, in a manner distinct from that of Europe, in order to meet the demands of the American adventure in freedom. This peculiar blending of classical and biblical mythoi on the American strand constitutes the American cultural self. Recovery of this combination can mitigate what some have called America's fear of pastlessness, and perhaps allay that anxiety altogether.

Much of this fear of pastlessness may be attributed to the hegemonic effects of the  Adamic myth. This hegemony has concealed the Aeneas myth, or the classical half of the American self, for so long a time that nothing less than a full‑scale reclamation of the American Aeneas can address this loss satisfactorily. Recuperation of the forgotten classical half of the American cultural self, then, is this study's central concern. At the same time, this project interrogates the interconnectedness of the Adamic and the classical discourses. Such a recovery greatly strengthens arguments for an American exceptionalism. such as that made recently by Jack P Greene in Intellectual Construction of America.

For a considerable time I resisted the notion of a classical half of Americanness. So stubborn and so long has been the denigration of the Aeneas myth that an extensive archaeology was required before I could accept this classical half. Eventually, as I recovered a huge quantity of startling evidence that classical thought and culture had contributed mightily to shaping the American self, my skepticism diminished. This previously unseen classical half did and does exist, and recuperation of that half explains much about how and why Americans have acted and thought as they have, and continue to act and to think as they do.

For example, in writing entries for Levemier and Wilmes, American Writers Before 1800, I found that two of my subjects, Joseph Green and Joseph Seccombe, were authors of pastoral elegies, an unrecovered genre of Early American poetry. This form allowed its practitioners to record in poetic mode a tradition. After further investigation, I concluded that neither of these writers sought out Milton's Lycidas as a paradigm for imitation; rather, each (like Miltc­before them) went directly to Vergil for instruction in this form. Looking farther I determined that Green, writing later than Seccombe, had read Seccombe and borrowed some ideas from him. Green also borrowed from Jeremy Belknap, a consummate classicist and another Early American writer of pastoral elegy. Green, then, was writing as an Early American, not as an imitator of the British Milton, despite the undeniable fact that all of these writers (and virtually all Early American writers, from Cotton Mather to Phillis Wheatley) knew Milton, as well as many other British and Continental authors of this period.

This study advances a subordinate argument, too. When the tenets of the Aeneas myth are allowed to come into play along with those of the Adamic myth while reading the works of Early American writers, their writings (excluding those by Loyalists) do not display a dependence upon British authors. Rather, they demonstrate an originality and independence whose temper predicts the struggle for political and economic independence.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Early American writers were original thinkers, discovering for themselves an original identity. Recovery of the American Aeneas and its interaction with the Adamic myth necessitates a reevaluation of the whole of American literature created before 1800. While this volume initiates such a reevaluation, in no way does it exhaust this undertaking.

But this combination of classical and Adamic myths is not merely a phenomenon of pre‑Revolutionary America; indeed, it persists in a dialectical relationship even today. The chapters on Hawthorne and Melville demonstrate this persistence. Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineaux" and Melville's Billy Budd, rather than other texts, have been selected because practically every person who has taught or taken a survey course in nineteenth century American literature knows them. While the classical half of the American self persists in virtually all American authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from James Fenimore Cooper to Willa Cather and beyond, here I have attempted only to establish the presence and persistence of the Aeneas myth.

It would be impossible to treat, in this limited space, the full compass and consequence of the persistence of the Aeneas myth. Nevertheless, I shall suggest some plausible directions that such a reassessment may take. What The American Aeneas sets out to accomplish, then, is to restore America's missing classical half. Doing so will provide a more precise and accurate paradeictic (model used as argument)`for the American self, one against which we, without anxiety, may productively and usefully interrogate our self/selves.

How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World by Jorge Canizares-Esguerra (Stanford University Press) is likely to have a broad reach in demonstrating the necessary recognition that South American and Spanish histories have more to teach us about the idea of the New World than has been usually acknowledge in the Anglophone world. In the mid-eighteenth century, the French naturalist Buffon contended that the New World was in fact geologically newmthat it had recently emerged from the waters-and that dangerous miasmas had caused all organic life on the continents to degenerate. In the "dispute of the New World" many historians, naturalists, and moral philosophers from Europe and the Americas (including Thomas Jefferson) sought either to confirm or refute Buffon's views. This book maintains that the "dispute" was also a debate over historical authority: upon whose sources and facts should naturalists and historians reconstruct the history of the continent and its peoples?

The author traces the cultural processes that led early-modern intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic to question primary sources that had long been considered authoritative: Mesoamerican codices, early colonial Spanish chronicles, and travel accounts. In the process, he demonstrates how the writings of these critics led to the rise of the genre of conjectural history. The book also adds to the literature on nation formation by exploring the creation of specific identities in Spain and Spanish America by means of particular historical narratives and institutions. Finally, it demonstrates that colonial intellectuals went beyond mirroring or contesting European ideas and put forth daring and original critiques of European epistemologies that resulted in substantially new historiographical concepts.

Excerpt: The epistemological debates that characterized eighteenth‑century Atlantic historiography on the New World did not go away. Drawing on the compilation of travel narratives by the Spanish Pedro de la Estala, John Pinkerton [1758-­1826], for example, repeated in 1811 in the third edition of his Modern Geography the tiresome complaint that all Spanish accounts were unreliable.' This type of criticism, however, waned in Europe in the wake of Alexander von Humboldt's forceful defense of the reliability of early colonial Spanish chronicles. But in Spanish America memories were harder to erase. On the eve of the wars of independence, the pages of Mexican periodicals carried both articles dismissing the glorious reconstructions of the Aztecs' past as unreliable and replies questioning the skeptics. When the wars exploded, rival parties managed to turn an argument over rights of political representation at the Cortes of Cadiz (1800-1814) into a historiographical dispute, in which issues of credibility and authority became paramount.' It is no wonder that when these exchanges were taking place, a peninsular prelate, Benito Marfa de Moxo y Francolf (1763­1816), penned in Mexico around 1805 yet another treatise that went over the tenets of patriotic epistemology. Drawing on the writings of Francisco Clavijero, Moxo y Francolf insisted that although biases often distorted the perception of witnesses, witnesses and facts were preferable to armchair philosophers and elaborate theoretical systems. Pitting the testimony of learned clerical writers against foreign observers, Moxo y Francolf maintained that only the former could be trusted. Like Jose Joaqufn Granados y Galvez, that other peninsular bishop turned patriotic epistemologist, Moxo y Francolf noted that travelers were often manipulated by savvy peoples and armchair observers by local cunning or ignorant informants. According to Moxo y Francolf, only the clergy who had intimate knowledge of the language of the Amerindians and who therefore had easy access to their communities could see through their lies. Using these epistemological insights, Moxo y Francolf denounced Voltaire for calling into question the credibility of early Spanish accounts over the extent of Amerindian ritual cannibalism, Juan Gines de Sepulveda for his sweeping generalization of the Amerindians as hopeless, changeless savages, and Cornelius de Pauw for his characterization of the natives as weak, insensitive creatures.

To trace the fate of the discourse of patriotic epistemology in nineteenth-century Latin America one needs to abandon historiographical sources and seek it in the debates over how to write national literatures. The views of Ignacio Altamirano (1834‑1893) are a case in point. A leading Mexican liberal, a literary critic, and a novelist himself, Altamirano sought to define what constituted a "Mexican" literature. He was part of a larger movement of Latin American novelists who in the second half of the nineteenth century insisted that plots highlighting national landscapes, problems, and taxonomies and toponyms would do the job q He, however, also argued that the writing of Mexican literature should be left to Mexicans because when European and Anglo novelists had sought to represent local customs they had by and large produced "an endless succession of foolish scenes (cavila de cuadros disparatados)." According to Altamirano, the writing of Mexican novels had a dual purpose: to educate the masses through morally uplifting plots, on the one hand, and to set the record straight against foreign misrepresentation and innuendo, on the other.'

The struggle of Latin American intellectuals to correct what they considered to be stereotypes about Latin America circulating among the North Atlantic public survived through the nineteenth century. In fact, it still continues. Shibboleths haunt even the friendliest foreign observers of things Latin American; in fact they haunt Latin Americans themselves. Latin American writers have done their utmost to orientalize the region through the literary conceit of "magical realism" and through histories that emphasize inordinate social conflict and collective secular failure. Some fifty years ago in La disputa del Nuovo Mondo (1955), Antonello Gerbi studied many of the authors and texts that have been the subject of this book. After having spent many years in Peru, Gerbi decided to trace the origins of many of the negative views of Latin America he found still popular in Europe. With no sympathy for such denigrating perspectives, Gerbi, however, reproduced many in his own writings. A case in point is his treatment of the works of those Spanish American clerics who replied to Buffon, de Pauw, Raynal, and Robertson. Gerbi, for example, summarily dismissed whole sections of Francisco Clavijero's history as "grotesque and ridiculous."' Worse, he considered that the literature of most Spanish American authors was worthless, for the authors reacted "belligerently, angrily, and resentfully to Buffon's end de Pauw's notions, but without producing any organic corpus of argument and factual data to oppose them. They reply to the all‑embracing condem­nations with disjointed dithyrambs. To the serious problems raised by Buffon they make no reference at all, and de Pauw is only mentioned for his more scandalous aspects and wilder exaggerations."' The enlightened reader might be tempted to dismiss patriotic epistemology as a chauvinist discourse, a relic of a strange but defunct world. I beg to differ. As far as interpretations like

Gerbi's are consumed uncritically, and as far as audiences in the United States are only offered stories of violence, resistance to exploitation, instability, and corruption in Latin America (a narrative conceit authorized in part by cultural geographies that characterize the region as "non-Western"), there are going to be storytellers like myself to recreate alternative worlds.

Adventism and the American Republic: The Public Involvement of a Major Apocalyptic Movement by Douglas Morgan (University of Tennessee Press) "Adventists made major contributions in the American legal tradition by helping expand the liberties of all Americans. Morgan's careful tracing of that plot will illustrate for non-Adventists the creative role of marginal and outsider groups." -from the Foreword by Martin E. Marty

While many organized religions in America today have affinity for conservative political action groups such as the Christian Coalition, Seventh‑day Adventists have often found themselves allied with liberals against such measures as Sunday laws and prayer in schools. Douglas Morgan now examines the role Adventism has played in American public life and explains its positions from the standpoint of the church's historical development, showing that its relationship with public policy, government, and politics is far more complex than most historians have believed.

Adventism and the American Republic tells how their convictions led Adventist adherents to become champions of religious liberty and the separation of church and state‑all in the interest of delaying the fulfillment of a prophecy that foresees the abolition of most freedoms. Through publication of Liberty magazine, lobbying of legislatures, and pressing court cases, Adventists have been libertarian activists for more than a century, and in recent times this stance has translated into strong resistance to the political agendas of Christian conservatives.

Drawing on Adventist writings that have never been incorporated into a scholarly study, Morgan shows how the movement has struggled successfully to maintain its identifying beliefs‑with some modifications and how their sectarian exclusiveness and support of liberty has led to some tensions and inconsistencies.

Because of their overriding concern for religious freedom, Adventists have had considerable impact upon the public order in the United States. Morgan's careful study makes that impact clear and promotes a better understanding not only of the church but also of the place of religion in American politics.

The Author: Douglas Morgan is assistant professor of history at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Philadelphia's Enlightenment, 1740-1800: Kingdom of Christ, Empire of Reason by Nina Reid-Maroney (Contributions to the Study of World History, No. 81:  Greenwood Press) Rather than treating the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment as defining opposites in 18th century American culture, this study argues that the imperatives of the great revival actually shaped the pursuit of enlightened science. Reid-Maroney traces the interwoven histories of the two movements by reconstructing the intellectual world of the "Philadelphia circle." Prophets of the Enlightenment had long tried to resolve pressing questions about the limitations of human reason and the sources of our knowledge about the created order of things. The leaders of the Awakening addressed those questions with a new urgency and, in the process, determined the character of the Enlightenment emerging the Philadelphia's celebrated culture of science.

Lafayette by Harlow Giles Unger (Wiley) In this gripping biography, acclaimed author Harlow Giles Unger paints an intimate and detailed portrait of the heroic young French soldier who, at nineteen, renounced a life of luxury in Paris and Versailles to fight and bleed for liberty–at Brandywine, Valley Forge, and Yorktown. A major general in the Continental army, he quickly earned the love of his troops, his fellow commanders, and his commander in chief, George Washington, who called him his "adopted son." To the troops, he was "the soldier’s friend"; to Americans all, he was "our Marquis."

In a tale filled with adventure, romance, and political intrigue, Unger follows Lafayette from the battlefields of North America to the palace of Versailles , where the marquis won the most stunning diplomatic victory in world history–convincing the French court to send the huge military and naval force needed to win American independence. He then returned to America to lead the remarkable guerrilla campaign in Virginia that climaxed with British surrender at Yorktown –and earned him the title "Conqueror of Cornwallis." Lafayette ’s triumph turned to tragedy, however, when he tried to introduce American democracy in his native land. His quest for a constitutional monarchy unwittingly set off the savage French Revolution and plunged Europe into more than a decade of slaughter and war. Declared an enemy of the state, Lafayette fled France only to be imprisoned for five years in an Austrian dungeon, while his wife, Adrienne, and her family festered in prison, awaiting the cruel blade of the guillotine.

Based on years of research in France as well as in the United States , Unger’s biography reveals how American ambassador James Monroe won Adrienne Lafayette’s freedom and helped Lafayette ’s only son, George-Washington Lafayette, escape France to the safety of his godfather’s home in Mount Vernon , even as the guillotine claimed his great-grandmother, grandmother, and aunt.

Lafayette is also a compelling romance, as Lafayette and his beloved, Adrienne de Noailles, feast at their sumptuous wedding banquet, dance at Marie Antoinette’s lavish palace balls, and embrace in anguish in the ghastly Austrian dungeon that Adrienne and her daughters shared with Lafayette for two brutal years.

Inspiring and educational, Lafayette is the dramatic life story of one of the great leaders in American and European history, swept up in the cataclysmic events that spawned the longest-lasting democracy in the New World and prolonged despotism for two centuries in the Old.

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