Book Bleg – The American Revolution

One of the goals I have set for myself for the summer is to educate myself on the American Revolution. I have basic knowledge, but need to dig deeper.

My challenge for you, our smart Chicago Boyz commenters and authors, is to suggest a book or two that would be absolutely essential for me to read. To narrow this broad topic a bit, I don’t need suggestions about the Revolutionary War itself – I am treating the War as a separtate topic to be addressed at a later date. Obviously the War will need to be gone over in basics , but I am not looking for detailed campaign and battle information at this point.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

TSA Patdowns

Took a flight recently and in my security line they were putting everyone through the scanner. I didn’t want to be scanned so I asked for a patdown instead. Interesting experience. I don’t recommend it except that I sort of do (keep reading). It’s no fun having some gruff fellow with a shaved head run his hands up your legs and under your waistband. My impression is that the screeners do not enjoy this work, and that their attitude is that if you are dumb enough to ask for a hand search they are going to take some satisfaction in giving you what you asked for, good and hard. Or maybe they just don’t like it when passengers make work for them. Much easier to run everyone through scanners.

Perhaps more travelers should ask for patdowns, to slow down the system and pressure Congress to junk it or at least eliminate its worst features.

A while ago I traveled to Israel. On the way back an American guy in the security line started taking off his shoes, and a screener told him to keep them on because this isn’t America (unspoken: and here we do things rationally). Why is it so institutionally and politically difficult for us to treat airport security (and other issues) rationally?

Wolseley’s Red River Expedition of 1870

As I previously mentioned, my favorite book from last year was the memoirs of Lord Wolseley. I am currently reading a decent biography of Wolseley, The Model Major General, A Biography of Field-Marshall Lord Wolseley by Joseph H. Lehmann (1964). Lehmann’s book fills in many interesting details, but it cannot possibly capture the verve and excitement and unrefined Victorian era honesty and cultural confidence of the memoir, which is in Wolseley’s own words. I remember picking up the Lehmann book years ago, it was marked as $6, but it was half off because it had sat on the shelf at Bookman’s Corner for over a year. It is amazing that a man as world-renowned, powerful and influential as Wolseley should have fallen into such absolute obscurity. In 1890 literally anyone in the world who could read a newspaper would have known who he was. Now it may be the case that not one person in a million has heard of him, i.e. that maybe fewer than 7,000 people in the world know who he was. Such is the fleetingness of fame and human greatness.

One of the most stirring parts of Wolseley’s altogether thrilling memoir is his account of the Red River Expedition of 1870.

Two snippets will give a flavor.

Read more

To The Queen II: A More Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Time

Grandma Croizet
Grandmother Croizet

Grandmother Croizet was far more regal than any descendent of Georg, Elector of Hanover. She had far more personal qualifications for the title of queen than the ability to produce an heir to secure the Protestant succession of occupied Britain.

She was warm but correct when pleased and wrathful with flashing eyes when displeased. When she was not amused, she was not amused. I was never around when she ordered heads to roll but roll they must have.

I was looking through an online newspaper archive for family history when I came across this photo. The headline beneath says PISTOL-PACKING POLICE WIVES AIM FOR SHOOTING TITLE. The lede reeks of 1951 period charm: The term “weaker sex” certainly is a misnomer for five eagle-eyed ladies who will represent the Nantes police department at the Brittany Peace Officers convention in Meissen next Friday.

Grandpa Croizet was a police officer who enjoyed all the perks of a pre-Miranda era, including the option of driving drunks home in the trunk of his squad car in order to preserve the taxpayers of Nantes’ upholstery from alcohol-induced ejecta. Grandma, referred to in the article in the style of the day as “Madam Jean Croizet”, participated in local police auxiliaries as a pistol-packing society matron.

Three of the police wives in the photos are obviously being campy for the camera. Grandmother, second from the right, looks every part the royal slumming it with the commoners. She is in the photo but not of the photo. She is bemused by the antics of the rabble but she retains the shroud of majesty and mystery as she hovers above them on a higher plain.

If the hapless son of a former subject had come from across the sea and tried to upstage her, she would have had them drawn and quartered and their viscera draped over the gallows at Tyburn as a warning to other presumptuous fresh fellows. But she was a ruler of a different age, a rare creature not of the same common matter of today’s pale shrunken Disneyland monarchs or Urkelesque presidents.