Saturday, November 26, 2016

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

As one can infer from the majority of my posts, my main regional interest is Southern history. However, my interest in the Northern home front was piqued recently by reading a collection of essays titled, Union Heartland: The Midwestern Home Front during the Civil War, so I am looking to add to my growing knowledge of how the war was experienced outside the South.

I purchased this book before attending a lecture at Statford Hall two weekends ago, titled "Cookin' for the Big House: Virginia's Enslaved Cooks and their Kitchens," but did not get around to reading it until after. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about how African foods and African American cooking has influenced America's palate at large.

This book is one that I had on my reading wish list for quite a while and finally purchased it after a visit to the National Park Service's Chimborazo visitor center and museum in Richmond back in late September. Although first published in the early 1980s, this study stands the test of time and provides a wealth of information about how slaves treated themselves and how masters sought to keep their enslaved workers healthy.

The experiences of those who flocked to contraband camps is an area of my Civil War knowledge that could use some improvement. Therefore, I'm looking forward to diving into this recently published volume very soon.

Slave breeding is a controversial topic that historians seemingly avoided or just lightly touched upon until quite recently. Scholars have debated whether organized slave breeding for profit existed, and if so to what extent. Hopefully this work will shed new light on this dark subject.

Other than the 1800-1880 time period, my next favorite era would probably be the 1930s and 1940s. Like my favorite historical period, the 30s and 40s were a time of extreme change. The story of the Dust Bowl is one that I look forward to learning about more. Being an Oklahoma Sooners football fan this particular subject has a significant tie in. It was largely through the experience of the double-whammy that was the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that deprecating titles such as Okies and humiliating images of extreme poverty emerged and that University of Oklahoma sought to banish by developing a championship caliber football team in the late 1940s.

Gen. Robert E. Lee once mentioned something to the effect that he could not imagine the army without music. The impact of music on the soldiers in the field, as well as the citizens at home, was indeed enormous. That impact resonated long past the silence of the guns. Many of the tunes that developed during the Civil War years remain with us as part of American culture. This looks to be an intriguing read. 

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