Monthly Archives: May 2013

Your very own Civil War tourist attraction

If you’ve got $1,695,000 to spare, you could be the next proprietor of the American Civil War Wax Museum in Gettysburg.  It’s officially on the market.

The exhibits depict such critical turning points as the fateful evening of May 2, 1863, when ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and Mark Twain tended to a wounded Grigori Rasputin…

…and Lincoln’s 1860 conference with Lt. Commander Worf of the USS Enterprise.

Pics are from tripadvisor.com.

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Filed under Civil War, Museums and Historic Sites

Philbrick takes Bunker Hill

Like the name of the battle itself, the title of Nathaniel Philbrick’s Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution is a bit misleading.  Just as his Mayflower covered more than the Pilgrims’ ship, his newest book is about more than the bloody confrontation at Breed’s Hill on June 17, 1775.  He tells the story of the Revolution in and around Boston from the time of the tea party through the British evacuation in 1776. 

In Bunker Hill, Philbrick’s gift for narrative serves him well when there’s some sort of action going on.  The chapters on the war’s first day, on the titular battle, and the siege of Boston are where this book shines, although the best modern account of Lexington and Concord remains David Hackett Fischer’s masterful Paul Revere’s Ride.  It’s fitting that Hollywood has already taken an interest in this book, which is cinematic in its vivid characterizations, gripping battle passages, and rapid pacing.

The earlier chapters, which deal with the political maneuvering that led up to the shooting war, are not as strong.  Perhaps this is because it puts Philbrick out of his element.  He first catapulted to popular acclaim with a gripping account of the sinking of the whaleship Essex, he’s at its best when he describes the experiences of men in deadly and dramatic circumstances.  Or perhaps this is simply due to the nature of popular narrative history itself, a genre in which character and action often take precedence over analysis.

Philbrick’s bibliography is extensive; he has read widely in the secondary literature on the Revolution in New England.  One of his contributions is to emphasize the role of Dr. Joseph Warren, whose critical place in the colonial protest movement is familiar to historians but less so to average readers.  Philbrick suggests that Warren’s death at Bunker Hill—he arrived on the battleground to fight as a common soldier even though the Provincial Congress had appointed him a major general—cost the Patriots one of their more able leaders, and he notes several points at which they might have benefited from his presence had he survived.

Ultimately, this is a good work of popular history.  If you’re new to the Revolution, or if you’re a more seasoned history buff looking for a refresher before setting off on a summer trip to Boston’s Freedom Trail, you’ll find Philbrick an informed and engaging guide.

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Filed under American Revolution, Historiography

INSP is going colonial for Memorial Day

INSP, the cable network specializing in family programming, is going to air a colonial-themed miniseries starting at 7:00 P.M. on Memorial Day.  The show is called Courage, New Hampshire, and it’s set in the late eighteenth century.

It apparently originated as a direct-to-DVD production put together by a couple of guys who met through a Tea Party rally.  The guy who financed the first episode is into living history, so it might be worth a look.  You can find a few short clips on YouTube.

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Filed under American Revolution, Colonial America

We have a winner, but we also have some glitches

Well, folks, there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is, we’ve got a winner for the Bunker Hill book giveaway.  The winning number was 674, by the way, which was also the lowest number of all the entries submitted.

Here’s the bad news.  When I contacted the winner to get a shipping address, he let me know that he’s been having trouble getting the comment function here on the blog to work.  “Whenever I try,” he said, “it won’t let me enter anything into the box called ‘Leave a reply.’ The phrase already in the box, ‘Enter your comment here…’ simply stays there and doesn’t disappear when I try to type over it.”  If anybody else out there has been having this problem, let me know by sending me an e-mail at the address on the “About the Blog” page and I’ll let the folks at WordPress know.

Anyway, let me thank everybody who entered the book giveaway.  We might do more of these in the future.

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Andrew Burstein on historical dreams

The dreams of historical figures, mind you, not dreaming about history in the present day.  The essay is based on his forthcoming book, which looks pretty interesting.

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Filed under Historiography

Archaeologists locate site of Carr’s Fort

Here’s some interesting news out of Georgia for all of us Rev War aficionados.

Oh, and speaking of Rev War buffs, don’t forget about the Bunker Hill book giveaway.  Just pick a number between 1 and 1,775 and send it to me at mlynch5396@hotmail.com by 10:00 P.M. on May 5.  I won’t use your e-mail address for any purpose other than contacting the winner to get shipping info for the prize, so don’t be shy. Entries have been coming in since the first day, but the more the merrier.

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Filed under American Revolution