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Dickens, His Parables, and His Reader Cover

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Dickens, His Parables, and His Reader

Linda M. Lewis

 
Charles Dickens once commented that in each of his Christmas stories there is “an express text preached on . . . always taken from the lips of Christ.” This preaching, Linda M. Lewis contends, does not end with his Christmas stories but extends throughout the body of his work. In Dickens, His Parables, and His Reader, Lewis examines parable and allegory in nine of Dickens’s novels as an entry into understanding the complexities of the relationship between Dickens and his reader.

 

Through the combination of rhetorical analysis of religious allegory and cohesive study of various New Testament parables upon which Dickens based the themes of his novels, Lewis provides new interpretations of the allegory in his novels while illuminating Dickens’s religious beliefs. Specifically, she alleges that Dickens saw himself as valued friend and moral teacher to lead his “dear reader” to religious truth.

 

Dickens’s personal gospel was that behavior is far more important than strict allegiance to any set of beliefs, and it is upon this foundation that we see allegory activated in Dickens’s characters. Oliver Twist and The Old Curiosity Shop exemplify the Victorian “cult of childhood” and blend two allegorical texts: Jesus’s Good Samaritan parable and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. In Dombey and Son,Dickens chooses Jesus’s parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders. In the autobiographical David Copperfield, Dickens engages his reader through an Old Testament myth and a New Testament parable: the expulsion from Eden and the Prodigal Son, respectively.

 

Led by his belief in and desire to preach his social gospel and broad church Christianity, Dickens had no hesitation in manipulating biblical stories and sermons to suit his purposes. Bleak House is Dickens’s apocalyptic parable about the Day of Judgment, while Little Dorrit   echoes the line “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” from the Lord’s Prayer, illustrating through his characters that only through grace can all debt be erased. The allegory of the martyred savior is considered in Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens’s final completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, blends the parable of the Good and Faithful Servant with several versions of the Heir Claimant parable.

 

While some recent scholarship debunks the sincerity of Dickens’s religious belief, Lewis clearly demonstrates that Dickens’s novels challenge the reader to investigate and develop an understanding of New Testament doctrine. Dickens saw his relationship with his reader as a crucial part of his storytelling, and through his use and manipulation of allegory and parables, he hoped to influence the faith and morality of that reader.

Dogface Soldier Cover

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Dogface Soldier

The Life of General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.

Wilson A. Heefner

On July 11, 1943, General Lucian Truscott received the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for valor in action in Sicily. During his career he also received the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart. Truscott was one of the most significant of all U.S. Army generals in World War II, pioneering new combat training methods—including the famous “Truscott Trot”— and excelling as a combat commander, turning the Third Infantry Division into one of the finest divisions in the U.S. Army. He was instrumental in winning many of the most important battles of the war, participating in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, and southern France. Truscott was not only respected by his peers and “dogfaces”—common soldiers—alike but also ranked by President Eisenhower as second only to Patton, whose command he took over on October 8, 1945, and led until April 1946.

 

            Yet no definitive history of his life has been compiled. Wilson Heefner corrects that with the first authoritative biography of this distinguished American military leader. Heefner has undertaken impressive research in primary sources—as well as interviews with family members and former associates—to shed new light on this overlooked hero. He presents Truscott as a soldier who was shaped by his upbringing, civilian and military education, family life, friendships, and evolving experiences as a commander both in and out of combat.

 

Heefner’s brisk narrative explores Truscott’s career through his three decades in the Army and defines his roles in key operations. It also examines Truscott’s postwar role as military governor of Bavaria, particularly in improving living conditions for Jewish displaced persons, removing Nazis from civil government, and assisting in the trials of German war criminals. And it offers the first comprehensive examination of his subsequent career in the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as senior CIA representative in West Germany during the early days of the Cold War, and later as CIA Director Allen Dulles’s deputy director for coordination in Washington.

 

Dogface Soldier is a portrait of a man who earned a reputation for being honest, forthright, fearless, and aggressive, both as a military officer and in his personal life—a man who, at the dedication ceremony for the Anzio-Nettuno American cemetery in 1945, turned away from the crowd and to the thousands of crosses stretching before him to address those buried there. Heefner has written a definitive biography of a great soldier and patriot.

Entering the Fray Cover

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Entering the Fray

Gender, Politics, and Culture in the New South

Edited by Jonathan Daniel Wells & Sheila R. Phipps

The study of the New South has in recent decades been greatly enriched by research into gender, reshaping our understanding of the struggle for woman suffrage, the conflicted nature of race and class in the South, the complex story of politics, and the role of family and motherhood in black and white society. This book brings together nine essays that examine the importance of gender, race, and culture in the New South, offering a rich and varied analysis of the multifaceted role of gender in the lives of black and white southerners in the troubled decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 
Ranging widely from conservative activism by white women in 1920s Georgia to political involvement by black women in 1950s Memphis, many of these essays focus on southern women’s increasing public activities and high-profile images in the twentieth century. They tell how women shouldered responsibilities for local, national, and international interests; but just as nineteenth-century women’s status could be at risk from too much public presence, women of the New South stepped gingerly into the public arena, taking care to work within what they considered their current gender limitations.
The authors—both established and up-and-coming scholars—take on subjects that reflect wide-ranging, sophisticated, and diverse scholarship on black and white women in the New South. They include the efforts of female Home Demonstration Agents to defeat debilitating diseases in rural Florida and the increasing participation of women in historic preservation at Monticello. They also reflect unique personal stories as diverse as lobbyist Kathryn Dunaway’s efforts to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia and Susan Smith’s depiction by the national media as a racist southerner during coverage of her children’s deaths.
Taken together, these nine essays contribute to the picture of women increasing their movement into political and economic life while all too often still maintaining their gendered place as determined by society. Their rich insights provide new ways to consider the meaning and role of gender in the post–Civil War South.

Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition Cover

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Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition

Explorations in Modern Political Thought

Edited by Lee Trepanier & Steven F. McGuire

 

Twentieth-century political philosopher Eric Voegelin is best known as a severe critic of modernity. Much of his work argues that modernity is a Gnostic revolt against the fundamental structure of reality. For Voegelin, “Gnosticism” is the belief that human beings can transform the nature of reality through secret knowledge and social action, and he considered it the crux of the crisis of modernity. As Voegelin struggled with this crisis throughout his career, he never wavered in his judgment that philosophers of the modern continental tradition were complicit in the Gnostic revolt of modernity.
            But while Voegelin’s analysis of those philosophers is at times scathing, his work also bears marks of their influence, and Voegelin has much more in common with the theorists of the modern continental tradition than is usually recognized. Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition: Explorations in Modern Political Thought evaluates this political philosopher—one of the most original and influential thinkers of our time—by examining his relationship to the modern continental tradition in philosophy, from Kant to Derrida.
            In a compelling introduction, editors Lee Trepanier and Steven F. McGuire present a review of the trajectories of Voegelin’s thought and outline what often is portrayed as his derisive critique of modernity. Soon, however, they begin to unravel the similarities between Voegelin’s thought and the work of other thinkers in the continental tradition. The subsequent chapters explore these possible connections by examining Voegelin’s intellectual relationship to individual thinkers, including Hegel, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Gadamer.
            The essays in this volume go beyond Voegelin’s own reading of the modern philosophers to offer a reevaluation of his relationship to those thinkers. In Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition, Voegelin’s attempt to grapple with the crisis of modernity becomes clearer, and his contribution to the modern continental tradition is illuminated. The book features the work of both established and emerging Voegelin scholars, and the essays were chosen to present thoughtful and balanced assessments of both Voegelin’s thought and the ideas of the other thinkers considered. As the first volume to examine the relationship—and surprising commonalities—between Voegelin’s philosophy and the continental tradition as a whole, this text will be of interest not only to Voegelin disciples but to philosophers engaged by continental modernism and all disciplines of political philosophy.

Ethical Communication Cover

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Ethical Communication

Moral Stances in Human Dialogue

Clifford G. Christians and John C. Merrill

Proponents of professional ethics recognize the importance of theory but also know that the field of ethics is best understood through real-world applications. This book introduces students and practitioners to important ethical concepts through the lives of major thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Ayn Rand, John Stuart Mill to the Dalai Lama.
            Some two dozen contributors approach media ethics from five perspectives—altruistic, egoistic, autonomous, legalist, and communitarian—and use real people as examples to convey ethical concepts as something more than mere abstractions. Readers see how Confucius represents group loyalty; Gandhi, nonviolent action; Mother Teresa, the spirit of sacrifice. Each profile provides biographical material, the individual’s basic ethical position and contribution, and insight into how his or her moral teachings can help the modern communicator. The roster of thinkers is gender inclusive, ethnically diverse, and spans a broad range of time and geography to challenge the misperception that moral theory is dominated by Western males.
            These profiles challenge us not to give up on moral thinking in our day but to take seriously the abundance of good ideas in ethics that the human race provides. They speak to real-life struggles by applying to such trials the lasting quality of foundational thought. Many of the root values to which they appeal are cross-cultural, even universal.
            Exemplifying these five ethical perspectives through more than two dozen mentors provides today’s communicators with a solid grounding of key ideas for improving discussion and attaining social progress in their lives and work. These profiles convey the diversity of means to personal and social betterment through worthwhile ideas that truly make ethics come alive.

 

Explorer Cover

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Explorer

The Life of Richard E. Byrd

LISLE A. ROSE

“Danger was all that thrilled him,” Dick Byrd’s mother once remarked, and from his first pioneering aviation adventures in Greenland in 1925, through his daring flights to the top and bottom of the world and across the Atlantic, Richard E. Byrd dominated the American consciousness during the tumultuous decades between the world wars. He was revered more than Charles Lindbergh, deliberately exploiting the public’s hunger for vicarious adventure. Yet some suspected him of being a poseur, and a handful reviled him as a charlatan who claimed great deeds he never really accomplished.

Then he overreached himself, foolishly choosing to endure a blizzard-lashed six-month polar night alone at an advance weather observation post more than one hundred long miles down a massive Antarctic ice shelf. His ordeal proved soul-shattering, his rescue one of the great epics of polar history. As his star began to wane, enemies grew bolder, and he struggled to maintain his popularity and political influence, while polar exploration became progressively bureaucratized and militarized. Yet he chose to return again and again to the beautiful, hateful, haunted secret land at the bottom of the earth, claiming, not without justification, that he was “Mayor of this place.”

Lisle A. Rose has delved into Byrd’s recently available papers together with those of his supporters and detractors to present the first complete, balanced biography of one of recent history’s most dynamic figures. Explorer covers the breadth of Byrd’s astonishing life, from the early days of naval aviation through his years of political activism to his final efforts to dominate Washington’s growing interest in Antarctica.   Rose recounts with particular care Byrd’s two privately mounted South Polar expeditions, bringing to bear new research that adds considerable depth to what we already know. He offers views of Byrd’s adventures that challenge earlier criticism of him—including the controversy over his claim to being the first to have flown over the North Pole in 1926—and shows that the critics’ arguments do not always mesh with historical evidence.

Throughout this compelling narrative, Rose offers a balanced view of an ambitious individual who was willing to exaggerate but always adhered to his principles—a man with a vision of himself and the world that inspired others, who cultivated the rich and famous, and who used his notoriety to espouse causes such as world peace. Explorer paints a vivid picture of a brilliant but flawed egoist, offering the definitive biography of the man and armchair adventure of the highest order.

Faint Praise Cover

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Faint Praise

The Plight of Book Reviewing in America

Gail Pool

For more than two hundred years, book reviewers have influenced American readers, setting our literary agenda by helping us determine not only what we read but also what we think about what we read. And for nearly as long, critics of these critics have lambasted book reviews for their overpraise, hostility, banality, and bias.

            Faint Praise takes a hard and long-overdue look at the institution of book reviewing. Gail Pool, herself an accomplished reviewer and review editor, analyzes the inner workings of this troubled trade to show how it works—and why it so often fails to work well. She reveals why bad reviewing happens despite good intentions and how it is that so many intelligent people who love books can say so many unintelligent things on their behalf.

            Reviewers have the power to award prestige to authors, give prominence to topics, and shape opinion and taste; yet most readers have little knowledge of why certain books are selected for review, why certain reviewers are selected to review them, and why they so often praise books that aren’t all that good. Pool takes readers behind the scenes to describe how editors choose books for review and assign them to reviewers, and she examines the additional roles played by publishers, authors, and readers. In describing the context of reviewing, she reveals a culture with little interest in literature, much antipathy to criticism, and a decided weakness for praise. In dissecting the language of reviews, Pool demonstrates how it often boils down to unbelievable hype.

Pool explores the multifaceted world of book reviewing today, contrasting traditional methods of reviewing with alternative book coverage, from Amazon.com to Oprah, and suggesting how the more established practices could be revised. She also explores the divide between service journalism practiced by reviewers versus the alleged high art served up by literary critics—and what this fuzzy boundary between reviewing and criticism really means.

This is the first book to analyze the field in depth, weighing the inherent difficulties of reviewing against the unacceptable practices that undermine the very reasons we read—and need—reviews. Faint Praise is a book not just for those who create and review books but also for everyone who loves books. By demystifying this hidden process, Pool helps everyone understand how to read reviews—and better decide what to read.

The Final Mission of Bottoms Up Cover

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The Final Mission of Bottoms Up

A World War II Pilot's Story

Dennis R. Okerstrom

 
On November 18, 1944, the end of the war in Europe finally in sight, American copilot Lieutenant Lee Lamar struggled alongside pilot Randall Darden to keep Bottoms Up, their B-24J Liberator, in the air. They and their crew of eight young men had believed the intelligence officer who, at the predawn briefing at their base in southern Italy, had confided that their mission that day would be a milk run. But that twenty-first mission out of Italy would be their last.

 

            Bottoms Up was staggered by an antiaircraft shell that sent it plunging three miles earthward, the pilots recovering control at just 5,000 feet. With two engines out, they tried to make it to a tiny strip on a British-held island in the Adriatic Sea and in desperation threw out everything not essential to flight: machine guns, belts of ammunition, flak jackets. But over Pula, in what is now Croatia, they were once more hit by German fire, and the focus quickly became escaping the doomed bomber. Seemingly unable to extricate himself, Lamar all but surrendered to death before fortuitously bailing out. He was captured the next day and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner at a stalag on the Baltic Sea, suffering the deprivations of little food and heat in Europe’s coldest winter in a century. He never saw most of his crew again.

 

            Then, in 2006, more than sixty years after these life-changing experiences, Lamar received an email from Croatian archaeologist Luka Bekic, who had discovered the wreckage of Bottoms Up. A veteran of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bekic felt compelled to find out the crew’s identities and fates. Lee Lamar, a boy from a hardscrabble farm in rural northwestern Missouri, had gone to college on the GI Bill, become a civil engineer, gotten married, and raised a family. Yet, for all the opportunity that stemmed from his wartime service, part of him was lost. The prohibition on asking prisoners of war their memories during the repatriation process prevented him from reconciling himself to the events of that November day. That changed when, nearly a year after being contacted by Bekic, Lamar visited the site, hoping to gain closure, and met the Croatian Partisans who had helped some members of his crew escape.

 

            In this absorbing, alternating account of World War II and its aftermath, Dennis R. Okerstrom chronicles, through Lee Lamar’s experiences, the Great Depression generation who went on to fight in the most expensive war in history. This is the story of the young men who flew Bottoms Up on her final mission, of Lamar’s trip back to the scene of his recurring nightmare, and of a remarkable convergence of international courage, perseverance, and friendship. 

 

The Fishing Creek Confederacy Cover

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The Fishing Creek Confederacy

A Story of Civil War Draft Resistance

Richard A. Sauers and Peter Tomasak

<a href="http://press.umsystem.edu/pages/TheFishingCreekConfederacy.aspx">Media Kit

 
           One hundred fifty years after the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is thought of as one of the best presidents of the United States. However, most Americans forget that he was elected with only 40 percent of the popular vote. Many Democratic newspapers across the North mistrusted Lincoln’s claim that he would not abolish slavery, and the lukewarm support evidenced by them collapsed after Lincoln announced his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in the fall of 1862. The advent of a national draft in the spring of 1863 only added fuel to the fire with anti-Lincoln Democrats arguing that it was illegal to draft civilians. Many newspaper editors advocated active resistance against the draft. 

 

            Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin of Pennsylvania was a staunch supporter of the Lincoln administration. The commonwealth supplied more than 360,000 white soldiers and 9,000 black soldiers during the conflict. However, there was sustained opposition to the war throughout the state, much of it fanned by the pens of Democratic newspaper editors. Though most opposition was disorganized and spontaneous, other aspects of the antiwar sentiment in the state occasionally erupted as major incidents. 

           

           In The Fishing Creek Confederacy, Richard A. Sauers and Peter Tomasak address the serious opposition to the draft in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, in 1864. Egged on by the anti-Lincoln newspaper editors, a number of men avoided the draft and formed ad hoc groups to protect themselves from arrest. The shooting of a Union lieutenant confronting draft evaders in July 1864 resulted in military intervention in the northern townships of the county. The troops arrested more than one hundred men, sending about half of them to a prison fort near Philadelphia. Some of these men were subjected to military trials in Harrisburg, the state capital, that fall and winter. The arrests led to bitter feelings that were slow to die. The military intervention eventually impacted a Pennsylvania gubernatorial election and led to a murder trial.

 
            Sauers and Tomasak describe the draft in Pennsylvania and consider how Columbia County fit into the overall draft process. Subsequent chapters take the reader through the events of the summer of 1864, including the interaction of soldiers and civilians in the county, the prison experiences of the men, and the trials. Later chapters cover the August 1865 Democratic rally at Nob Mountain and the effects of the draft episode after the war was over, including its influence on the 1872 election for governor, the 1891 murder trial, and the formation of the official Democratic version of the events, which has been used by historians ever since.

 
            The Fishing Creek Confederacy is the first book to address this episode and its aftermath in their entirety. Sauers and Tomasak present the story and try to disentangle the often contradictory nature of the sources and how both amateur and professional historians have used them.

The Forgotten Generation Cover

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The Forgotten Generation

American Children and World War II

Lisa L. Ossian

 

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed the nation by radio, saying, “We are all in it—all the way. Every single man, woman, and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history.” So began a continuing theme of the World War II years: the challenges of wartime would not be borne by adults alone. Men, women, and children would all be involved in the work of war.
The struggles endured by American civilians during the Second World War are well documented, but accounts of the war years have mostly deliberated on the grown-ups’ sacrifices. In The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II, Lisa L. Ossian explores the war’s full implications for the lives of children. In thematic chapters, the author delves into children’s experiences of family, school, play, work, and home, uncovering the range of effects the war had on youths of various ethnicities and backgrounds.
Since the larger U.S. culture so fervently supported the war effort, adults rarely sheltered children from the realities of the war and the trials of life on the home front. Children listened for news of battles over the radio, labored in munitions factories, and saved money for war bonds. They watched enlisted men—their fathers, uncles, and brothers—leave for duty and worried about the safety of soldiers overseas. They prayed during the D-Day invasion, mourned President Roosevelt’s death, and celebrated on V-J Day . . . all at an age when such sharp events are so difficult to understand. Ossian draws from a multitude of sources, including the writings of 1940s children, to demonstrate the great extent of these young people’s participation in the wartime culture.
World War II transformed a generation of youths as no other experience of the twentieth century would, but somehow the children at home during the war—compressed between the “Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers”—slipped into the margins of U.S. history. The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II remembers these children and their engagement in “the most tremendous undertaking” that the war effort came to be. By bringing the depth of those experiences to light, Ossian makes a compelling contribution to the literature on American childhood and the research on this remarkable period of U.S. history.

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