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Donald Trump’s mantra, to “make America great again,” plays on the word “again,” and is presumably meant to evoke among his supporters a return to an earlier, more bountiful, time. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the word “again” means. According
Day Four: Pick a character from the opposite team that you like. Talk about him and/or defend him.
Day Four of Bella's Blog Party is to pick a character from the opposite team I like and talk about him/her and/or defend him/her.
Obviously the character I choose from the opposite team is Bucky.
I mean, I love Steve. Duh. Who wouldn't? But if we are just choosing a member that's NOT Steve, it would be Bucky. Think about this. He is Steve's friend from way back. He always had Steve's back. Even after he was rescued in CAFA, he immediately deferred to Captain America, and literally followed him into death. He didn't choose to become the Winter Soldier. The Russians messed with his brain and made him a dangerous weapon, but it was never something he chose. In fact, once he remembered who Steve was, and who he was, he went into hiding. He didn't "do that anymore." The only reason he came out of hiding was because THIS man...
...Baron Zemo, lost his family in Sokovia and, blaming the Avengers for their deaths, was determined to destroy them from the inside out. So he framed Bucky for killing the king of Wakanda, which brought hordes of policemen swarming to find and capture the Winter Soldier, thus making Steve lose his normally cool-headed perspective to ignore the law in order to protect his best friend.
Bucky has a really tragic story. He's left for dead in the Alps after falling from an impossible height in CAFA, but apparently due to whatever the Russians did to him while he was in their prison, the fall did not kill him. Instead, he is found and apprehended by HYDRA agents, and programmed to become their assassin. He is transformed from the good old Brooklyn kid Steve knew, into a mindless killer who's only job was to comply.
Steve - "What you did all those years, it wasn't you. You didn't have a choice." Bucky - "I know. But I did it."
The thing I like best about Bucky, he knows fate has dealt him a cruel hand, but he never complains. Even while Steve is trying to keep him safe, Bucky takes each obstacle step and step and accepts it for what it is.
"I don't know if I'm worth all this, Steve." - Bucky Barnes
Even at the end, when Zemo plays footage revealing Bucky was the assassin who killed Tony's parents, Bucky never tries to shift the blame. He just stands there as the video plays, watching Tony slowly losing it, quietly ready to take whatever violence Tony throws at him (which, by the way, I totally get. I dare you to stand and watch your parents get viciously murdered by the best friend of your friend, and just shrug it off).
Tony - "Do you even remember them?" Bucky - "I remember all of them."
And then, after all is said and done, Bucky chooses to go back into cryostasis, because he is still programmed to be dangerous. He would rather be put on ice indefinitely than to be the cause of any other problems for Steve. And I think that was the most heroic thing done in the movie.
Day Three, I get to talk about a supporting character from my team - which, since I decided I probably agreed more with Tony's logic than Steve's for a change, makes that Team Iron Man.
(For those of you jumping in to participate, you can find the Blog Party rules on Bella's blog.)
The character I became unexpectedly fond of was Spiderman.
I didn't expect to like him at all. My favourite Spiderman of all times is the first one I ever saw -Toby McGuire. Yes, the effects were terrible. Yes, those movies could have used some work, and I despised MJ. But Toby McGuire was such a cute, sympathetic character as Peter Parker. He was the kind of superhero I could admire. I liked him a lot. (I didn't care too much for the Andrew Garfield remake, and I confess I did not watch the sequel to the Amazing Spiderman. It was mostly that part, where the teacher tells him not to make promises he can't keep, and Peter whispers to Gwen, "But those are the best kind," which completely ruined him for me. I mean, what? You promised a dying man to leave his daughter out of your escapades, and now you're freakin' saying broken promises are the best kind?! That's not cool at all, Bro!)
So, to watch Civil War and realize that, hey, you know what, I kinda like this Peter Parker... well, let's just say I went from violently disliking the idea of Spiderman, to feeling pretty glad he was on Tony's side. (Also, the fact that he's from Queens - that Tony found another kid from Brooklyn to join his team - is cool.)
Plus, he's so genuinely nice. I mean, the first time we even meet Peter, he comes into his house and finds Iron Man having tea and some kind of bread (was it walnut date bread? I think it was walnut date bread) with his aunt, and he's so adorably awkward in that scene. Tony pretends Peter had won some kind of scholarship, and Peter is just terrible at acting along, and I was over there going, well Marvel, I can't believe you have managed to introduce yet ANOTHER Spiderman, and somehow make him someone I might actually like more than Toby McGuire.
Also, during the fight between the teams that I loved/hated (loved because the dialogue was FUNNY, hated because it was friends against friends, and then RHODEY...) it was mostly Spiderman (and Ant-Man) who made the scene less horrible than it could have been.
I liked the freshness Peter brought to the team, the constant geeking out over peoples' suits, armour and abilities, and his overall ingenuousness.
Spiderman - "Are those carbon fiber wings?" Falcon - "I don't know if you've been in a fight before, but there's usually not this much talking." Spiderman - "All right, sorry. My bad."
He was so young, and I liked that we got to skip over the whole "how Spiderman came to be" backstory and went straight to where he had had these abilities for six months, and was now able to apply them. I also liked the little nods to previous movies, like where he says something to Tony that's akin to Uncle Ben's famous line, "With great power comes great responsibility," and how he feels a personal obligation to use his powers to help the "little guy."
I'm glad they cast him younger, too. I almost felt like it was a way for Tony to reconcile his conscience with the boy killed in Sokovia - that by taking this young boy and making him one of his team members, he could make a small restitution. I thought it worked really well, and I'm interested to see how this Peter Parker grows up.
So, today is Day Two of Bella's Civil War Blog Catastro-party, and today's the day I do The Tag. (For those of you jumping aboard this blog party, details are here, on Bella's blog.)
Because I'm a little rebel and I don't have sides (Yes, it's a go for TeamGetAlong), I'm doing both tags. So there.
Team Iron Man
1.) What is your favorite Iron Man movie? Probably the first one, because that's the first one I saw and the one with the tightest plot. But I love all three Iron Man movies. I absolutely adore watching Tony's constant character development - he keeps growing and changing and becoming more vulnerable as time goes on, and the selfish persona he dons so effortlessly gets gradually more visible as the charade it is.
2.) When did you decide you loved Iron Man? In the first movie, after his friend Yinsen gets shot. Tony straightens up, and there is that absolutely terrible expression on his face, like someone is going to GET it.
3.) Do you tend to agree with Iron Man's thinking/logic? Um, I oftentimes see where he is coming from, but I wouldn't say I'd entirely agree with his logic. I feel like I'd become a Pepper Potts quite quickly - I would humour him and, when possible, make the appropriate decisions for him.
4.) What is one thing about Tony that drives you insane? His apparent inability to take a situation seriously. As time goes on, that does get a little less pronounced, but I would get angry if I told him he was making me anxious and he laughed at me.
5.) Do you think you'd like Tony in real life? That depends. I probably wouldn't like him upon a first meeting, I don't think, but once I got to know him and became comfortable with his sarcastic attitude, I think I'd be able to give back as much as he gave, and gently snub him when needed.
6.) Do you think you'd get along with Pepper Pots? What about Rhodey? I love Pepper. I love Rhodey. I think they are both great foils to Tony's character. I think I'd get along smashingly with them.
7.) Would you like to live in Stark Tower? Not unless there was an area I could turn into a den/library/hobbit hole. Otherwise, it's too sterile for me. It doesn't feel like a home. It feels like an office.
8.) Would you want to try out/own any of Iron Man's robots or fancy little gadgets? None of the big suits, that's for sure. I'd appreciate some of his gadgets, though. I would like one of his fancy-schmancy computers - I'd love to be able to manipulate simulations the way he does, and physically play with computer generated designs.
9.) What is your favorite Iron Man quote? That bit, after he finds Yinsen dying and Yinsen tells him his family his dead and he's going to go see them now, Tony just says, "Thank you for saving me." I love that line. To me, that's when he stopped being playboy Tony and started to become Iron Man.
10.) If Tony as he is now volunteered to take you to dinner and a movie, would you accept his invitation? Not a date, just a night out cause he knows you are soooooo stressed. Again, it depends on how well I know him. If I knew him well enough to be like, "That's enough wine for YOU, mister," and take the glass out of his hand, then maybe. But I think if I was someone he actually cared about, he would make a bit of an effort to be inoffensive. So, maybe.
Team Captain America
1.) What is your favorite Captain America movie? The first one for sure. That's when Steve Rogers is just Steve Rogers, no-one special or unique, just a kid from Brooklyn with tons and tons of heart and spirit.
2.) When did you decide you loved Captain America? C'mon, you should know when... After he threw himself on that grenade.
3.) Do you tend to agree with Steve's thinking/logic? Steve is a pretty black-and-white kind of guy. He tries to do what's right and questions what he thinks is wrong. Plus, he seems a pretty moral guy, so I think I mostly agree with how his mind works.
4.) What is one thing about Steve that drives you insane? While I appreciate his stubbornness, I think that's the one thing that frustrates me most about him. He won't back down on things (Bucky, for example) and no matter what you say, he will focus on that issue to the point of obsession.
6.) What is something about Steve that you really admire? His selflessness. He will do anything for his friends.
7.) Do you think you would like Steve in real life? For sure! He's pretty much everything I like in a man - strong, protective, manly, gentle, subtly funny - plus, he's got that Brooklyn toughness about him.
8.) What do you think of Steve's motorcycle, and would you want a ride on it? I love his motorcycle. People that ride motorcycles are freakin' hawt. If it were Cap driving, yes, I'd ride on that bike.
9.) What was an iconic "STEVE FREAKIN' ROGERS" moment for you? Again, you know when that was... when he threw himself on that grenade.
10.) If Steve asked you on a date, would you accept? Yes.
You must tell Bella when you post so she can read your Civil War Wonders!!! (She even Pretty Pleases the request, so maybe give her a head's up.)
You should follow her! (She Pretty Pleases this with ice cream on top, so yeah, give her a follow.)
You shouldn't be mean to people who are on the opposite team! No being mean! There's nothing wrong with a little friendly banter and what not, but No. Being. Mean!!!!! Meanness is not allowed!
You must absolutely must choose a side! (even if, in your humble opinion, there IS no side, just two stupid men who refuse to compromise a teensy bit in favour of maintaining friendship.) You don't have to feel guilty about this. This isn't about who you like better, (though that can obviously come into the equation.) This is just about who you would most likely join because you agree with them.
You have to have fun! Have lots of fun!
(For participants, the list of what to do each day is available on this post of Bella's. Okay? Okay.)
Day One is PICK A SIDE (even if you don't feel that there is a side - just two stupid men unwilling to compromise a little in the name of friendship).
Here's my problem. Iron Man and Captain America are my TWO FAVOURITE AVENGERS. The stupid thing about Civil War, it pitted my TWO FAVOURITE AVENGERS against each other.
I admit to being more of an Iron Man fan. His was the first actual Avenger movie I saw, and I fell in love with his character arc. The first Iron Man movie was probably the best, but in every single one of his movies, as well as the Avenger movies, he always has this character arc that I ADORE. So I loved him, and was prepared for Civil War, being Cap's movie, to be skewed in favour of Cap and I was bracing myself against an onslaught of Iron Man hate.
That was not the case. I was surprised at how even the "sides" were.
Thank you, Marvel, for giving us a perfectly balanced, incredibly clear look at two sides that are equally wrong and equally right.
Even still, I probably ended up agreeing more with Tony.
I totally get both sides. For Steve, he has this Brooklyn tough guy attitude that absolutely will not lie down and let the bad guys beat on the small guys. He has to step in and DO SOMETHING, even if that something may be a little outside the boundaries of the law. He has to DO SOMETHING, and I love that about him. In this case, his DO SOMETHING attitude ended with Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, saving his life, but accidentally killing dozens of people in the process. So to have the governments all siding against the Avengers and demanding they be kept in check - I didn't really blame the governments, but I didn't like the idea.
"While a great many people see you as a hero, there are some who prefer the word vigilante. You've operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's something the world can no longer tolerate." - General Thaddeus Ross
I don't blame Steve for not wanting to sign the Accords.
"Our job is to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn't mean everybody."
However, and I say this with total and complete understanding, if it weren't for Bucky, I don't think the Civil War would have happened. Whenever Steve hears the name "Bucky," he loses all perspective, and I get that. I do. For him, it's only been something like five years since he thought Bucky died, and only about two years that he's known Bucky is alive, but still lost in the persona of the Winter Soldier, and that grief and loss is still sharp. He wants to save Bucky so badly, and he will do anything it takes to do so, even if it means splitting the Avengers apart.
"You know I wouldn't do this if I had any other choice. But he's my friend." - Steve Rogers In my opinion, Steve was willing to risk everything to save Bucky, and I love that, but if you look at the repercussions, this could cause some serious international incidents. I mean, he goes into a foreign country, dressed as the obviously American superhero, to protect a suspected terrorist responsible for the death of Wakanda's king. That's some serious crap.
"He said 'Bucky' and suddenly I was that 16-year-old boy from Brooklyn again." - Steve Rogers So, at first I kind of agreed with Steve. I wouldn't want to sign the Accords. I wouldn't want the government telling who I can or cannot save.
"What if this Panel sends us somewhere we don't think we should go? What if there's somewhere we need to go and they don't let us?" - Steve Rogers
BUT... Let's take a look at Tony's side. First off, we see him struggling with guilt over the death of his parents, that he didn't properly say goodbye to them before they were gone forever. Right after that, he is confronted by a woman who blames him for the death of her son, when the Avengers were trying to stop Ultron in Sokovia and pretty much decimated that city. Directly after that, all the active Avengers are called into a meeting with the Secretary of State, who shows them a film chronicling all the casualties of the wars they've fought, which hits everyone pretty hard. The Secretary then proceeds to lay down the law - either the Avengers agree to sign the Accords, which will put them under the supervision of a governmental panel, or they retire. Tony suspects that if they don't sign now, they will be forced into an Accord that will give them zero ability to assist people. (Plus, he's also got the guilt of the Sokovian boy weighing on him, and I think that played into his distrust of himself - the fact that he feels there needs to be someone the Avengers are accountable to.) "Oh, that's Charles Spencer, by the way. He's a great kid. Computer engineering degree. 3.6 GPA... He decided to spend his summer building sustainable housing for the poor. Guess where? Sokovia. He wanted to make a difference, I suppose. I mean, we won't know because we DROPPED a building on him while we were KICKING ASS... There's no decision-making process here." - Tony Stark
"We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes, I'm game."
Through the whole movie, I kept swaying back and forth between Steve's point of view, and Tony's. They were both acting in the way their consciences dictated, so neither of them was at fault. However, there did come a point where it seemed that Tony was more focused on keeping the Avengers safe, keeping them together despite the Accords, keeping the team alive while appeasing the governmental powers, and Steve was entirely focused on saving Bucky and no-one but Bucky.
That's when I sided with Tony.
He wanted to save his team. He didn't want any of them to be forced to "retire." He wanted to protect everyone, and if that meant bowing to the will of the Accords, he was going to (and this is a man who doesn't bow to anyone). I think if it had just been a matter of the Accords, the trust and friendship between both sides would never have been questioned. It was the way everything escalated, building off one set of incidents, which led to another, and to another, until finally it was no longer just a difference of opinion and conscience, but complete disregard for the law and a duty to uphold the law, even at the cost of friendships.
"If we can't accept limitations, we're no better than the bad guys." - Tony Stark
I liked how Steve did his best to solve the Bucky problem on his own, only assembling his team when the only other choice was to admit defeat and sacrifice his best friend. But I hated that he turned on Tony to do so.
I liked how Tony did his best to protect Steve from the repercussions of the law, and how he tried to protect the entire Avengers crew, even at the cost of coming off as arrogant and self-serving. But I hated that he lost Steve's friendship to do so.
So I guess I'm Team Iron Man, because everything Tony did was to try and assure a better outcome for his team. He kept Wanda housebound, not only to protect the world from her, but also to protect her from people who would see her as a threat.
"She's confined in a compound currently - She's not a US Citizen and they don't grant visas to Weapons of Mass Destruction." - Tony Stark
He tried to keep Steve safe, to talk the Secretary of State into overlooking Steve's few misdeeds which occurred after the signing of the Accords. He even tried to assure a better future for Bucky, despite all Bucky's crimes done as the Winter Soldier. (Yes, I know he was brainwashed and he wasn't himself, nonetheless, as Bucky himself said, "But I did them.")
"We need you, Cap. Until nothing further happens that can't be undone, please... sign. We can make the last 24 hours legit. Barnes gets transferred to an American psych center instead of a Wakanda prison." - Tony Stark
When it was discovered that Bucky had been framed for the Wakandan King's death, it was Tony who admitted he had been wrong in believing Bucky was the terrorist, and tried to make peace with Steve. And it probably would have all been smoothed over then, if it hadn't been for a certain video (played by the movie's antagonist intent on destroying the Avengers from the inside out), which shows Tony's parents getting killed by the Winter Soldier, thus destroying all attempts at peace.
(I'll be honest - I totally understood Tony's reaction. Watching Bucky kill his parents - that had to hurt.)
I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted this movie to end with friendships restored, and while it didn't exactly end the way I wanted it to, at least it left it open enough to show there was some healing going on, and that eventually friendships would be resurrected and mended. (At least, they'd better be, Marvel!) I still wouldn't say there was a Team Captain America or Team Iron Man. Both Tony and Steve had totally valid points as to why they would or wouldn't sign. But all in all, I think Tony's actions were more what I would follow. I don't know if I'd be willing to step outside the law to save someone who has been an assassin for years, no matter how much Captain America believed in him. I think I'd rather side with Tony and try to protect my team at all costs - even if it meant giving up some freedom of action.
And that's a wrap! I'll do my best to do Day 2 tomorrow, but depending on how busy I am, that may or may not happen. Until next time...
Harriet Ross Tubman’s heroic rescue effort on behalf of slaves before and during the Civil War was a lifetime fight against social injustice and oppression.
Most people are aware of her role as what historian John Hope Franklin considered the greatest conductor for the Underground Railroad. However, her rescue effort also included her work as a cook, nurse, scout, spy, and soldier for the Union Army. As a nurse, she cared for black soldiers by working with Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, who was in charge of front line hospitals. Over 700 slaves were rescued in the Tubman-led raid against the Confederates at the Combahee River in South Carolina. She became the only woman in U.S. history to plan and lead both white and black soldiers in such a military coup.
It is the latter activity which caused black feminists in Roxbury, Massachusetts to organize themselves during the seventies as the Combahee River Collective. When Tubman died, she was given a military burial with honors. It is also Tubman’s work as an abolitionist, advocate for women’s suffrage, and care for the elderly that informs black feminist thought. It is only fitting that we remember the life of this prominent nineteenth century militant social reformer on the 165th anniversary of her escape from slavery on 17 September 1849.
Tubman was born into slavery around 1820 to Benjamin and Harriet Ross and given the name Araminta. She later took her mother’s name, Harriet. As a slave child, she worked in the household first and then was assigned to work in the fields. Her early years as a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were traumatic and she was sickly. An overseer threw an object that accidentally hit Tubman in the head. The head injury she sustained caused her to have seizures and blackouts all of her life. She even had visions and this combined with her religiosity caused her to believe that she was called by God to lead slaves to freedom. It is believed that her work in the fields gave her the physical stamina to make her rescues. She was married in 1844 to John Tubman, a free black man, but her anxiety about being sold caused her to run away to Philadelphia and leave John behind. Runaways were rare among slave women, but prevalent among slave men.
Between 1846 and 1860, Tubman successfully rescued close to 300 family members and other slaves. She became part of a network of prominent abolitionists who created escape havens for passage from the South to Northern cities and then on to Canada. The recent award winning film, Twelve Years a Slave reminds us that even free blacks were subject to being turned in as a runaway after passage of The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Tubman was bothered by this new law and was eager to go directly to Canada where she herself resided for a time. She made anywhere from 11 to 19 rescue trips. The exact count is unclear because such records were notkept in this clandestine social movement. Maryland plantation owners put a $40,000 bounty on Tubman’s head. She was never caught and she never lost a passenger. Like Patrick Henry, her motto was give me liberty or give me death. She carried a pistol with her and threatened to shoot any slave who tried to turn back. The exodus from slavery was so successful that the slaves she led to freedom called her Moses. She was such a master of disguise and subterfuge that these skills were used after she joined the Union Army. It has also been reported that the skills she developed were so useful to the military that her scouting and spy strategies were taught at West Point. She purchased a home in Auburn, New York where she resided after the Civil War. Her husband, John Tubman, died after the war, and she married Nelson Davis, another Civil War veteran. From her home in Auburn, she continued to help former slaves.
The Social Reformer
Historian Gerda Lerner once described Tubman as a revolutionist who continued her organizing activities in later life. Tubman supported women’s suffrage, gave speeches at organizing events for both black and white women, and was involved in the organizing efforts of the National Federation of Afro-American Women. After a three decade delay, Tubman was given $20 a month by the government for her military service. Tubman lived in poverty, but her mutual aid activities continued. She used her pension and money from fundraising activities to provide continued aid to freed slaves and military families. She died in 1913 in the home she established for the elderly and poor, the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People, now a National Historic Monument.
Harriet Ross Tubman escaped from slavery, but remembered those she left behind. She was truly an historic champion for civil rights and social justice.
Heading image: Underground Railway Map. Compiled from “The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom” by Willbur H. Siebert Wilbur H. Siebert, The Macmillan Company, 1898. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The Reconstruction era was a critical moment in the history of American race relations. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made great strides towards equality, the aftermath was a not-quited newly integrated society, greatly conflicted and rife with racial tension. At the height of Radical Reconstruction, in June 1870, seventeen-month-old Irish-American Mollie Digby was kidnapped from her home in New Orleans — allegedly by two Afro-Creole women. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Michael A. Ross offers the first ever full account of this historic event and subsequent investigation that electrified the South. The following images set the scene of New Orleans during this time period of racial amalgamation, social friction, and tremendous unease.
The Diverse New Orleans Population
A depiction of the diverse population of New Orleans. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Canal Street in New Orleans during Reconstruction. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Diversity in the Marketplace
Citizens of all classes frequented the public markets. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
A crowd waiting for a Mardi Gras parade. From Edward King, The Great South: A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, The Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1875, pg. 42.)
Creoles Strolling After a Matinee. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Policing the Streets
A Black Police Officer Addressing a Crowd. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
An Afro-Creole Nanny with a White Child
African American nannies escorting white children was a common site in New Orleans. From Edward King, The Great South: A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, The Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1875, pg. 30.)
Depiction of a Voodoo Ceremony. E.W. Kemble, “Voodoo Dance” from Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, November 1885 to 1886 (New York: The Century Co., vol. XXXI, New Series, Vol. IX, p.807.)
In this satirical cartoon, Reconstruction in Louisiana under President Grant and the Radical Republicans is depicted as a Greek tragedy. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Democratic periodicals regularly printed cartoons mocking the biracial Reconstruction legislatures in the South. This cartoon depicts a debauched Louisiana Legislature run by African Americans and poor “scalawag” southern whites. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Featured image: The City of New Orleans, Louisiana, Harper’s Weekly, May 1862. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Not content to resurrect Secret Wars, their most successful mega-event ever, Marvel just sent out a Civil Wars teaser image showing Iron Man and Captain America once again battling for the soul of Spider-Man, as he was in the 2005 Civil War event. The cover image is by Adi Granov.
Civil War the original event was written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven. It ran for seven issues from 2006-7 and had the tagline “Whose side are you on?” It was the waning years of the Bush administration and Milar’s story played into the still fresh wound of 9/11 with a story in which Iron Man and Captain America took different sides on the eternal debate over freedom vs safety. The book was well written and had a larger subtext that just who was fighting who and really tied into the Zeitgiest. Perhaps by no coincidence it remains the ONLY event book which still sells in collected edition form (at this very moment it’s Marvel’s #6 book on Amazon.)
In the original, Spidey switched sides from Iron Man, who favored the Superhero Registration Act, to Cap, who believed such an act violated our civil liberties. Spider-Man was given an Iron Spidey costume however which reappears on this teaser.
Bringing back old concepts to boost sales isn’t exactly the most creative or reassuring move on Marvel’s part, but you always knew the villain or hero would come back even if they looked dead; these day’s its the story concepts that come back.
PS: a number of people have been wondering if the original Civil Wars storyline would show up in the Marvel Cinematic U. A site called Movie Pilot lays out the pros and cons for that.
Variety has all the details. It seems RDJ was negotiating for Iron Man 4, and a smaller role in Cap 3, but now it’s war:
The new pact is significant for the Marvel cinematic universe considering the plot will pit Stark against Captain America’s alter-ego Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, as they feud over the Superhero Registration Act, which forces anyone with superhuman abilities to reveal their identities to the U.S. government and agree to act as a police force for the authorities.
Stark supports the program, but Rogers does not, saying it threatens civil liberties, causing sides to be taken and Rogers, among others, to go on the run to avoid arrest. The moral question and battle with his Avengers teammate essentially makes Stark a villain of sorts in “Captain America 3,” providing Downey with a meaty role he could play out into future Marvel films, including a fourth “Avengers.”
Captain America 3 comes out on May 6, 2016.
According to Variety, Downey’s larger role in Cap 3 riled up Ike Perlmutter, who didn’t want to pay Downey a hefty salary. Ike ordered Iron Man written out of the script completely, until Kevin Feige insisted on staying the course with his plans for the MCU.
It’s worth noting that RDJ is th eonly person in Hollywood who is brave enough to publicly call Ike out, as he did over the summerwhen commenting on negotiations for his return.
“It’s down to Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios president] and Ike [Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that’s on us to agree or disagree,” Downey said. “When things are going great, there’s a lot of agreement.”
Devin Faraci at Baddass Digest has more on the story, including how the Russo Brothers will not only direct Cap 3 but are the favorites to pick up Avengers 3 and 4 which will continue the Ultron and Civil War storylines.
I’m not clear on how the Civil War story will play out, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t have secret IDs to reveal, but I can tell you this: the fallout of Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be huge in this movie. There is a lot of destruction in that film. It makes an impact.
More than that, Marvel is looking at Cap 3 as Avengers 2.5. It’s going to be another ensemble picture, and it could feature Cap’s new team from the end of Age of Ultron. Last I heard (and they haven’t shot this scene yet, so it could change) that team is Falcon, War Machine, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Black Widow, as well as probably The Vision (although I have been told Black Widow will not be much of a presence in Cap 3). And once again the events of a Captain America movie will reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Could the Marvel Cinematic Universe get any more like a comic book?
As I noted in my previous piece, Civil War, in which Iron Man and Cap butt heads over whether individual freedom should be surrendered for the greater good, is very much a product of the post 9/11 mindset, but the comic itself remains a Marvel best seller. t would certainly make for an interesting movie storyline, although it would be interesting to see how the context changes.
With this week’s epochal news that the Marvel Cinematic UNiverse will be adapting the Civil War event storyline, many are wondering…why? Few of the superheroes introduced in the MCU even have secret identities—which were the crux of the kerfuffle between Iron Man and Captain America. Some just think it’s a bad idea on other terms.
Noelle Stevenson, of Lumberjanes and Nimona fame, is one of the sharpest commentators on Twitter, with incisive character analysis delivered in short 140-character bursts. Her thoughts on Avengers characterization are below.
Let’s be real: Civil War was a hamfistedly allegorical post-9/11 pseudo-intellectual machoist posturing slapfight between Tony and Steve.
Okay, maybe I’m editorializing a bit. But it is true that Civil War has long been one of the most contested and disliked events in Marvel history, with the major critique being that the behavior of all the characters involved was way off the map and that it dismantled years of continuity for what ultimately was not that compelling of a story. In my experience as both a fan and a retailer, Civil War is often cited as the reason a lifelong reader dropped Marvel for a while.
Historians are tasked with recreating days past, setting vivid scenes that bring the past to the present. Mark M. Smith, author of The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War, engages all five senses to recall the roar of canon fire at Vicksburg, the stench of rotting corpses in Gettysburg, and many more of the sights and sounds of battle. In doing so, Smith creates a multi-dimensional vision of the Civil War and captures the human experience during wartime. Here, Smith speaks to how our senses work to inform our understanding of history and why the Civil War was a singular sensory event.
The child turned in all directions, searching, calling, but no one called back. The sun was setting, swiftly behind the tall pines, and a late afternoon chill signaled a cold, life-threatening December night, unless the child found shelter, soon.
Her long cotton dress, and tattered wool coat, would help, but her teeth were already chattering from cold, or maybe from fear. At this point, it didn't matter which. Both could spell her death.
Their attempted escape had begun the night before from the rural Georgia plantation; the only home the girl had ever known. That much she could remember. Then sometime, just before sunup, they'd heard the dogs. Vicious sounding, braying madly, having caught scent of fully focused prey—a family trying, desperately, to distance itself from the oncoming battle between the North and the South.
Annabelle had panicked and run in the opposite direction of the fearsome howling, believing her mother, father, and younger sister were heading in the same direction.
She was wrong.
Her voice, barely audible from strain, she stumbled through the thick undergrowth for hours, calling, "Mama? Papa? Where are you?" She slumped to the ground beside the trunk of a Georgia Pine, nestled her exhausted, frightened body into a pile of dry leaves and closed her eyes,
Desperation set in among the Confederacy’s remaining troops throughout the final nine months of the Civil War, a state of despair that Union General Ulysses S. Grant manipulated to his advantage. From General William T. Sherman’s destructive “March to the Sea” that leveled Georgia to Phillip H. Sheridan’s bloody campaign in northern Virginia, the Union obliterated the Confederacy’s chance of recovery.
On this day in 1863, General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, one of the wiliest military commanders this country ever produced, died eight days after being shot by his own men. He had lost a massive amount of blood before having his left arm amputated by Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, arguably the most celebrated Civil War surgeon of either side.
“GEORGE LOVED WORDS. But George was enslaved. Forced to work long hours, he wqas unable to attend school or learn how to read. GEORGE WAS DETERMINED. He listened to the white children’s lessons and learned the alphabet. Then he taught himself to read. He read everything he could find. GEORGE LIKED POETRY BEST. While he tended his master’s cattle, he composed verses in his head. He recited his poems as he sold the fruits and vegetables on a nearby college campus. News of the slave poet traveled quickly among the students. Soon, George had customers for his poems. But George was still enslaved. Would he ever be free?”[inside jacket]
Review Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is indeed remarkable. Author and artist, Don Tate, has written an amazing story which he illustrated—with gouache, archival ink, and pencil—beautiful scenes of Chapel Hill, North Caroline, circa mid-1800’s. George Moses Horton is a real person. Young George’s desire to read and write were so strong that he listened in on the white children’s lessons while working long hours for his master. With diligence and hard work, George mastered the alphabet and learned to read and then write. He loved the inspirational prose he found in the Bible and his mother’s hymnal, but most of all, George loved poetry. He wrote poems while working those long hours in the field, but without paper or pen, he had to commit each poem to memory.
At age 17, George and his family were split up and George was given to the master’s son. George found the silver lining in his situation while selling fruit on the University of North Carolina’s campus(where he was teased by students). George distracted himself from his tormentors by reciting his poetry. It was not long before George was selling his poetry, sometimes for money—25c—other times for fine clothes and fancy shoes. A professor’s wife helped George put his poetry onto paper and get it published in newspapers, making him the first African-American to be published. George often wrote about slavery and some poems protested slavery, which made his work extremely dangerous in southern states—some states actually outlawed slavery poems, no matter the author’s skin color. The end of the Civil War officially made George a free man, yet his love of words and poetry had given George freedom since he learned to read,
“George’s love of words had taken him on great a journey. Words made him strong. Words allowed him to dream. Words loosened the chains of bondage long before his last day as a slave.”
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is one of those “hidden” gems the textbooks forget about, but history should not. Tate’s picture book portrays George’s life with the grim realities of the era, yet there are moments of hope when the sun literally shines upon a spread. This is more than a book about slavery or the Civil War. Those things are important, because they are the backdrop to George’s life, but Tate makes sure the positives in George’s life shine through, making the story motivational and awe-inspiring.
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is about following your dreams and then taking your dream and yourself as far as you can go, never giving up on yourself, regardless of negative influences. For those who dream of a better life, especially writers and poets, George Moses Horton’s story makes it clear that the only thing that can truly get in your way is yourself. Schools need to get this book into classrooms. Stories such as George Moses Horton’s should be taught right along with the stories American history textbooks do cover.
POET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON. Text and illustrations (C) 2015 by Don Tate. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.
.Full Disclosure: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate, and received from Peachtree Publishers, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
When I wrote about The Scarlet Letter I mentioned that is was part of a project I began (and then ended) to reread a number of the books I read in high school and have not read since. Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane was the other book I read in the project. When I began reading it I was already wavering on the project and the book cemented my decision to not continue. I figure if I have not read a book since high school there was probably a good reason for that.
So, Red Badge of Courage. One of the few books I read in high school that I recall not liking at all. I hoped with time and maturity the reread would reveal the book to be amazing. Nope. While I can certainly appreciate it in a way I did not when I was 14, I still found it to be a very dull book.
First published in 1895, the book is a shining example of realism. Told from the limited third person perspective of Henry Fleming, a young man who joins up to fight in the American Civil War. His idea of what war is does not match the reality. Before he leaves, and even for a long time before he experiences battle he thinks,
It must be some sort of a play affair. He had long despaired of witnessing a Greek like struggle. Such would be no more, he had said. Men were better, or more timid.
When his regiment is finally sent out into the field they spend quite a lot of time walking and walking and walking, camping, walking some more as they are ordered to a new position, camping, waiting, waiting, waiting, only to have to move again. It is a tedious affair and the longer Henry has to wait for a battle the more he begins to worry that he will be a coward and turn and run. He becomes so obsessed by this worry that he starts asking his comrades probing questions in an attempt to find out what they think of the matter and succeeds only in annoying them.
When the battle finally comes, Henry does fine on the first assault but the enemy regroups and charges and breaks part of the line. Henry, seeing some of his comrades falling back in retreat, panics and turns tail and runs as fast and far away as he can.
He spends quite a long time wandering and berating himself for running while also trying to justify his actions. Eventually he falls in with wounded soldiers who are moving away from the lines because they can no longer fight. Among them is his friend Jim Conklin who was badly wounded, delirious, and eventually dies. During this time Henry is repeatedly asked where his wound is but avoids answering the question.
He does eventually get a wound but it doesn’t come from battle. He is whacked in the head with the butt of a riffle when he gets mixed up in a column of retreating soldiers. When he makes it back to his own regiment they all think he has been grazed in the head by a bullet and treat him kindly. Henry does not tell them the truth.
All this takes up a large portion of the book and I was beginning to think that perhaps this was an anti-war novel since the horrors are so brutally graphic and revelatory in just how much the lives of men like Henry are mere fodder.
But then the final part of the book is battle after battle and Henry, in an attempt to atone for his previous cowardice and desertion, fights valiantly and even becomes standard bearer when the previous one falls, leading his regiment to victory. During this time Henry acts almost entirely on fear, adrenaline and rage. He needs to prove himself and prove that he and his comrades are not useless and good for nothing like he overheard some officers saying they were.
And suddenly the book does not seem so anti-war any longer. It is blood and courage and glory. Henry survives the battle. His regiment regroups and gets new marching orders. As they march off, Henry thinks:
He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death. He was a man.
And it rains. And they trudge through mud. And the book ends:
Yet the youth smiled, for he saw that the world was a world for him, though many discovered it to be made of oaths and walking sticks. He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle. The sultry nightmare was in the past. He had been an animal blistered and sweating in the heat and pain of war. He turned now with a lover’s thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks–an existence of soft and eternal peace.
Over the river a golden ray of sun came through the hosts of leaden rain clouds.
What the heck are we supposed to make of that? Is Henry just as delusional now as he was before he went to join the army? Does he think the tranquility is going to be real? Or has he faced death and, knowing there are more battles ahead and he is likely to die, looking forward to a heavenly reward? I apparently am not the only one to wonder as the interwebs tell me scholars have been debating the ambiguous ending for a very long time. Well and so.
The thing I remember most from high school about this book was my teacher going on and on about Christ figures. I had misremembered it as being Henry and while reading I was so confused because I just could not see it. Turns out, the Christ figure is supposedly Henry’s friend Jim Conklin, the one he finds wounded and delirious. I am almost 100% certain that when I read that, I made the same face I did in high school when my teacher said as much.
The difference between then and now (ok there are a lot of differences, but don’t quibble with me on this) is that then there was only Cliff’s Notes and now there is the all-knowing Google. I don’t recall Cliff as being especially helpful in this case. Google, however, tells me this whole Christ figure thing is hotly disputed because no one seems to know what the book means and so a group of scholars decided it was an allegory even though the evidence for this is thin. I don’t remember if says Cliff anything about this or not, but since my entire class realized early on in the first semester that the teacher was cribbing almost everything from Cliff, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
It also goes a long way in explaining why I was so garsh durned baffled about this idea and how it set me up for repeated “Christ figure” traumas throughout my freshman, and most of my high school, English classes. When mixed with the basic narrative conflicts drilled into my head (man against nature, man against society, man against man, man against self) it made for a pretty murky five-paragraph essay soup. How I survived high school English and majored in English literature at University is a mystery I will never be able to solve. My only guess is that I loved reading and books so much before I got to high school that there was nothing they could do ruin it for me. And thank heavens for that!
Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple, Read by Danny Campbell Scholastic Audiobooks 3.5 hours Best for upper middle grades and/or high school
I recently reviewed Lincoln's Spymaster for AudioFile Magazine. A link to my review of this biography of the nation's most famous private investigator is here: [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/107600/] Pinkerton's is a compelling story, well-told and read.
Antietam, Md. Allan Pinkerton ("E. J. Allen") of the Secret Service on horseback, Creator(s): Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer, Source: Library of Congress
“The scene is the center of the American line. Most of the attacks on the flanks have been repulsed by now, or nearly so, and the sun is near to setting. The American lines are now almost set into the famous ‘fish-hook’ formation that one can find on so many maps. But the operative word is ‘almost.’
“In the center, there is a gap…”
The writer is Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, and his recounting of the events in the weeks leading up to Gettysburg has had me enthralled for days. I’ve followed him from Fredericksburg, Virginia—the town, incidentally, where I graduated from college, and where I met Scott—north to Pennsylvania, his posts spanning the months of June and July, 1863, just over 150 years ago. I don’t particularly want to be in Gettysburg right now; my attention ought to be far to the south, in Alabama. But I can’t look away. Lt. Col. Bateman’s account is riveting.
“In the center, there is a gap because one American Corps commander took it upon himself to move well forward earlier in the fight. The rebels are now finishing crushing that Corps. But ever since that audacious Union Corps commander created that gap in the first place, a succession of recently arriving units have been fighting to keep the middle from collapsing. Now, as the sun sets over Seminary Ridge, the game is almost over. But there is a half-mile opening in the remaining American line, and two whole rebel brigades are headed straight to it.”
You’ll have to read the entire post to get the full thrust of what’s on the line in this moment—heck, you ought to read the whole series—but some of you will understand why this next passage made me gasp.
The American Corps commander now in charge of the section of the line closest to the hole, a fellow named Hancock, sees what is about to happen. The rebels are moments away from breaking the center of the Union line. His own Corps line ends several hundred yards to the north. The next American unit to the south is a quarter mile away. Hancock can see the reinforcements he has called for, as can others on the crest of the hill. Those troops are marching at full speed up the road. By later estimates, the relieving troops are a mere five minutes away from the ridgeline. But the Confederates are closer.
I talked about psychology yesterday. I wrote about how sometimes something that can only be described as moral ascendency (or perhaps morale ascendency) can make it possible for a smaller force to defeat a larger force — first emotionally, then physically. Rufus Dawes and his 6th Wisconsin Infantry pulled that off on the First Day, albeit at a horrendous cost. General Hancock understands in an instant the bigger picture. This is not some small slice of the field. He sees that if the rebels make it to the ridge, they might gain the psychological advantage over the whole Army of the Potomac, much of which is still arriving. So the rebels must be stopped. Now. Here.
And now, what I am about to describe to you transcends my own ability to explain. Hell, it is beyond my own understanding, and I have been a soldier for decades.
General Hancock sees a single American regiment available. But, though it is a “regiment,” this is in name only at this point. A “regiment,” at the beginning of the war, would be roughly 1,000 men. Before Hancock stand 262 men in American blue. Coming towards them, little more than 250 yards away now, are two entire brigades of rebels. Most directly, half of that force — probably about some 1,500 men from a rebel brigade — were coming dead at them. Perhaps a thousand more, at least two entire additional regiments, were on-line with that main attack, though probably unseen by Hancock. But what does that matter? The odds were, already, beyond comprehension.
“My God! All these all the men we have here…What regiment is this?” Hancock yelled.
“First Minnesota,” responded the colonel, a fellow named Colvill.
That’s right, Lovelace readers. The very regiment Emily Webster’s grandfather fought in, the one Carney’s Uncle Aaron (her great-uncle, surely) died in—in that charge on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
“When Colonel Colville told us to charge,” [Grandpa] said, nobody ran out on that field any faster than Aaron Sibley.”
“You ran fast enough to get a bullet through your arm.”
“Only winged, only winged,” he answered impatiently. “It might have been death for any one of us.”
It was for a good many of them, Emily remembered. She had heard her grandfather say many times that only forty-seven had come back out of two hundred and sixty-two who had made the gallant charge.
Every single man of the 1st Minnesota,” writes Lt. Col. Bateman,
“placed as it was at the crest of the gentle slope, could see what was going on. All of them were veterans, having fought since the beginning of the war. Each of them understood the exact extent of what they were being asked to do by General Hancock. And, it would appear, that they all understood why.
“On this day, at the closing of the day, there was no illusion that they might win. There was not any thought that they could throw back a force more than seven or eight times their own size. Not a one of them could have entertained the idea that this could end well for them, personally.
“I suspect, though of course nobody can actually ‘know,’ that there was only a silent, and complete, understanding that this thing must be done. So that five minutes might be won for the line and the reinforcements and that their widows and children might grown up in a nation once more united, they would have to do this thing. Then, as men, the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota followed their colonel as he ordered the advance, leading them himself, from the front.
“They charged, with fixed bayonets, to win 300 seconds for the United States. Union and Confederate sources agree on this next point: There was no slacking, no hesitation, no faltering. The 1st Minnesota charged, en masse, at once alone and together. One hundred and fifty years later, those 300 seconds they then won for the United States have proven timeless. Because it worked. They threw a wrench into the rebel attack, stalling it, before the inevitable end.
“And, as Fox’s Compendium pointed out in cold, hard numbers, it only cost 82 percent of the men who stepped forward.”
Grandpa Webster and Aaron Sibley are fictional characters, but they are based on real people, just as Emily and Carney were. In the afterword to HarperPerennial’s 2010 edition of Emily of Deep Valley, Lovelace historian Julie A. Schrader tells us that Grandpa Cyrus Webster represented a man named John Quincy Adams Marsh, the grandfather of Maud’s classmate Marguerite Marsh, the “real” Emily. He was not, however, a Civil War veteran. Schrader writes,
“Maud appears to have based Grandpa Webster’s experiences on those of Captain Clark Keysor (Cap’ Klein)…. General James H. Baker, a veteran of the Dakota Conflict and the Civil War, was the basis for the character of Judge Hodges. In 1952 Maud wrote, ‘Old Cap’ Keysor and General Baker used to visit the various grades on Decoration Day to tell us about the Civil War…’”
Emily is, as I’ve often mentioned, not only my favorite Maud Hart Lovelace book, it’s one of my favorite novels period. Grandpa Webster is very real to me. I can’t describe my astonishment to find him there, suddenly, in Lt. Col. Bateman’s account, rushing unhesitatingly toward that gap in the line. 262 men made the charge. 47 survived. One of them was Cap’ Clark Keysor, who visited Maud’s school classrooms and told her stories she never forgot. Nor shall I.
“Children and adults under the age of 40 are forgetting about the Pullma Porter. They were very important figures in the history of America. This book will teach children and adults who the porters were and why they were so important in our history. Porters worked in early train cars, they would look, listen and learn from their predominantly white passengers. They would read the newspapers passengers left behind, listen to conversations and begin to talk to one another. The Porter learned how important education was for children and how important it was to take this message home to his children. He eventually landed at the forefront of the civil rights movement”
“Who was the most important African-American in the 100 years following the end of the Civil War in 1865?”
Railroads came to be important ways to travel in early America, starting with its inception in 1830. The ride was not accommodating. Travelers were uncomfortable and dirty, and ate only if they brought their own food. George Pullman changed all that. He built The Pullman Sleeping Car. It had fancy sleeping and dining cars. Those who could afford it ate fine meals and slept on mattresses dressed in fine linens. Pullman heated the trains and put in lights (candlelight).
The Civil War freed slaves and Pullman hired the best and smartest to work as train porters. Porters had numerous jobs; from maid to shoeshine boy, and both nurse and nursemaid. Porters carried rulebooks that spelled out how to handle every possible situation they could encounter, but their main role was making beds at night and turning them back into seats the next day. A passenger could fall out of bed, tossed by the train, if the porter made the bed incorrectly.
A porter’s appearance had to be “porter-perfect,” including the uniforms, which they had to buy. Porters earned little, depending more on tips earned by giving extra attention to, and doing extra things for, the customer. Most riders simply called the porters “George” after Mr. Pullman. Rarely did they bother to learn a porter’s real name. Pullman Porters worked 240 hours a month for as little as $10.
By 1925, the porters began unionizing, thanks to A. Philip Randolph, another porter. Twelve years later, in 1937 the union, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, became reality. Better wages and working conditions were the result. In 1956, Pullman Porters held the Montgomery Bus Boycott, starting the civil rights movement. A. Philip Randolph introduced Martin Luther King at the Washington rally on August 28, 1963 and gave Mr. King the reigns to the civil rights movement. It was a porter, E. D. Nixon, who asked Rosa Parks to refuse a seat in the back of the bus.
By late 1960, Americans preferred to travel by airplane and the Pullman Porters began fading out. Pullman porters are important to America’s history. They struggled for equal rights, civil rights, and helped the exploration and settlement of the United States.
The Pullman Porter: An American Journey tells the story of the Pullman Porters who worked hard making train travel comfortable for Americans exploring the United States. The book is a comfortable weight, with thick cream pages border in brown. The digitally finished paintings together became a book of realistic illustrations. Every page is a brown tone. The porters are meticulous in appearance.
The text is long for a picture book. Most young children will not sit through the story, but many would love the illustrations. The Pullman Porter makes a great elementary adjunct textbook. It seems Ms. Oelschlager did not leave any details out of her book. Elementary kids will learn this history thanks to the straightforward text and the realistic and engaging illustrations. Teachers can utilize The Pullman Porter in classroom discussions of the American West, early train transportation, the civil rights movement, and the early freedom of the African-American. The Pullman Porter, not being a dry textbook, will hold children’s attention and help them remember the lesson.
I like The Pullman Porter and was instantly attracted to the cover. Inside are many little bits of information a normal textbook will not tell you. Things like Whoopi Goldberg and Thurgood Marshall being descendants of Pullman porters. The porters being the catalyst for the civil rights movement is a fact I did not learn in any American History class. The Pullman Porter will entertain adults interested in American history or trains in general. I think kids from fourth grade up through middle grade will enjoy The Pullman Porter. Schools should make this book available on the shelves of their libraries. History comes alive between the pages of The Pullman Porter: An American Journey.
Just east of downtown Tallahassee, Florida, there is a small city park known as “Old Fort.” It contains precisely that – a square of softly eroding earthworks (all that’s left of the fort) along with a few benches placed benignly in the shade of nearby oak and pine trees. The historical marker in the park offers some explanation:
“This earth work located on ground once part of the plantation of E.A. Houston…who commanded the Confederate artillery at the Battle of Natural Bridge, is a silent witness of the efforts of the citizens of Tallahassee to protect the capitol of Florida from capture when threatened by federal troops under General John Newton. Newton’s force landed at St. Marks light house [sic] and advanced up the east side of the St. Marks River, only to be decisively repulsed at Natural Bridge on March 6, 1865, by a hurriedly assembled Confederate force commanded by General Sam Jones, which included a company of cadets from the West Florida Seminary, now Florida State University.”
Civil War marker in Old Fort Park, Tallahassee, Florida. Photo by Jessica H. Clark. Used with permission.
So the marker claims the park as a victory monument of sorts. It was here in 1865 that soldiers of the army of the Confederate States of America waited for an invading force that never came. The interpretive marker is genteel and uncommitted, allowing for assumed knowledge on the part of its reader to complete the story it would rather not to tell. So in some ways, the work of remembering our Civil War is not unlike dinner at Downton Abbey — words need not match their meanings to be perfectly well understood, if understood differently, by those who hear them.
The Romans knew that remembering was never that simple. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote a wonderful piece describing events in the year 69 or 70 C.E., which illustrates what we risk when we try to make the ground bear witness to a convenient past. According to Tacitus’s account, a man named Julius Civilis was leading a rebellion against Roman occupation east of the Rhine. He attacked two Roman legions and forced them back to their camp at Vetera (modern Xanten), and eventually convinced them, after a lengthy siege, to surrender in exchange for their lives. However, several of Civilis’s allies broke the truce and ambushed the retreating Romans, killing many and driving the rest back to Vetera. Civilis and his men finished off these unarmed Romans and burned the camp to the ground.
Table-top model of Roman Xanten (Castra Vetera), Archäologischer Park Xanten. Photo by Аlexej Potupin via Wikimedia Commons.
Not long afterwards, as Civilis and his men prepared for another battle at Vetera, Tacitus describes him giving a speech to his men in which he “[calls] the site of the battle a ‘witness to valor’” and that “they stood on footprints of glory, walking on the ashes and bones of legions.” But Civilis errs; having flooded the original battle site to disadvantage the Roman legions, Civilis knows that his speech does not match reality. A poor student of history, he is too eager in his facile assumptions of the relationship between physical remains and the memory of war.
The sense of physical connection is important, though, and so in place of real ashes beneath their feet, he gives his men the next best thing. He asks them to imagine the bones of their enemies, just as their commander imagines that their bloody indiscipline could be monumentalized into a glorious victory. Tacitus creates a striking metaphor for civil war commemoration: imaginary monuments invoking false memories, inspiring fictive reinterpretations of a better past that never was.
This, of course, never does anyone any good. Civilis was bound to fail because he did not learn from his mistakes, and did not learn from them because he chose, instead, to tell a story where they had no place.
Thus can the lies we tell ourselves about our wars exact a higher price, in the long term, than the conflicts themselves. This isn’t just ancient news, either; as recently as 2000, the US Congress asked the Department of the Interior to “compile a report on the status of our interpretation of battlefield sites.” The National Park Service conducted an investigation and concluded that it was time to “develop a new paradigm” for the national commemoration of the American Civil War. The report sets forth, as an exemplar, Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where (what is often seen as) a pro-slavery monument was restored but matched by an interpretive plaque commemorating, effectively, the ways in which the stories we tell now are different from those we have told in the past.
This monument in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which commemorates free black man Heyward Shepherd — killed during John Brown’s raid in 1859 — for his “faithfulness” to the Confederacy, has been the subject of debate for several decades. CC BY-NC 2.0, photo by Slave2TehTink via Flickr.
The pairing of monument and plaque, unsurprisingly, caused enormous controversy. And what it underscores is, I think, one of Tacitus’s points for the preservation of civil society: the very aspects of the past that threaten our foundational illusions are the ones that have the most to offer our future.
The marker at the Old Fort in Tallahassee calls the earthwork a “silent witness,” an idea also deployed with great force in Eric Bogle’s 1976 World War I song “No Man’s Land”:
But here in this graveyard that’s still No Man’s Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation that was butchered and damned.
In March of 2014, President Obama spoke at Flanders Field American Cemetery. While some parts of his remarks were deeply moving, at one point he invoked the hundreds of thousands of dead who lay beneath that ground: “Belgian and American, French and Canadian, British and Australian, and so many others…while they didn’t always share a common language, the soldiers who manned the trenches were united by something larger — a willingness to fight, and die, for the freedom that we enjoy as their heirs.”
Robert Vonnoh (American, 1858-1933), “Coquelicots” (“Poppies”), 1890; retitled in 1919 as “Flanders – Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow.” Butler Institute of American Art, photo from Exhibition Catalogue Americans in Paris, Metropolitan Museum via Wikimedia Commons.
Those soldiers presumably would have died for freedom, as would the “so many others” (better known to history as Germans), had they been called to do so — but the First World War was not about that. We make false witness of the past and then wonder why it does not teach our children the truth; and while we may take some comfort from our consistency, Tacitus and the Park Service should remind us that we can do better.
Title: The Girls of Gettysburg Written by: Bobbi Miller Published by: Holiday House, September 2014 Themes: Mighty girls, The Battle of Gettysburg, Civil war Ages: 8-12+ Historical Fiction Opening Lines: Annie sank lower in the water, like a frog in … Continue reading →