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The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island
Canada’s Prince Edward Island is home to one of the oldest and most vibrant fiddling traditions in North America. First established by Scottish immigrants in the late eighteenth century, it incorporated the influence of a later wave of Irish immigrants as well as the unique rhythmic sensibilities of the Acadian French, the Island’s first European inhabitants. In Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler, renowned musician and folklorist Ken Perlman combines oral history, ethnography, and musical insight to present a captivating portrait of Prince Edward Island fiddling and its longstanding importance to community life. This book draws heavily on interviews conducted with 150 fiddlers and other “Islanders” whose memories span decades. The book thus colorfully brings to life a time not so very long ago when virtually any occasion—a wedding, harvest, house warming, holiday, or the need to raise money for local institutions such as schools and churches—was sufficient excuse to hold a dance, with the fiddle player at the center of the celebration. Perlman explores how fiddling skills and traditions were learned and passed down through the generations and how individual fiddlers honed their distinctive playing styles. He also examines the Island’s history and material culture, fiddlers’ values and attitudes, the role of radio and recordings, the fiddlers’ repertoire, fiddling contests, and the ebb and flow of the fiddling tradition, including efforts over the last few decades to keep the music alive in the face of modernization and the passing of “old-timers.” Rounding out the book is a rich array of photographs, musical examples, dance diagrams, and a discography. The inaugural volume in the Charles K. Wolfe American Music Series, Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is, in the words of series editor Ted Olson, “clearly among the more significant studies of a local North American music tradition to be published in recent years.”
Mixed-Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture
The Normandy Landings in American Collective Memory
D-Day, the Allied invasion of northwestern France in June 1944, has remained in the forefront of American memories of the Second World War to this day. Depictions in books, news stories, documentaries, museums, monuments, memorial celebrations, speeches, games, and Hollywood spectaculars have overwhelmingly romanticized the assault as an event in which citizen-soldiers— the everyday heroes of democracy—engaged evil foes in a decisive clash fought for liberty, national redemption, and world salvation. In D-Day Remembered, Michael R. Dolski explores the evolution of American D-Day tales over the course of the past seven decades. He shows the ways in which that particular episode came to overshadow so many others in portraying the twentieth century’s most devastating cataclysm as “the Good War.” With depth and insight, he analyzes how depictions in various media, such as the popular histories of Stephen Ambrose and films like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan, have time and again reaffirmed cherished American notions of democracy, fair play, moral order, and the militant, yet non-militaristic, use of power for divinely sanctioned purposes. Only during the Vietnam era, when Americans had to confront an especially stark challenge to their pietistic sense of nationhood, did memories of D-Day momentarily fade. They soon reemerged, however, as the country sought to move beyond the lamentable conflict in Southeast Asia. Even as portrayals of D-Day have gone from sanitized early versions to more realistic acknowledgments of tactical mistakes and the horrific costs of the battle, the overarching story con¬tinues to be, for many, a powerful reminder of moral rectitude, military skill, and world mission. While the time to historicize this morality tale more fully and honestly has long since come, Dolski observes, the lingering positive connotations of D-Day indicate that the story is not yet finished.
A mid-level Confederate official and lawyer in secessionist North Carolina, David Schenck (1835–1902) penned extensive diaries that have long been a wellspring of information for historians. In the midst of the secession crisis, Schenck overcame long-established social barriers and reshaped antebellum notions of manhood, religion, and respectability into the image of a Confederate nationalist. He helped found the revolutionary States’ Rights Party and relentlessly pursued his vision of an idealized Southern society even after the collapse of the Confederacy. In the first biography of this complicated figure, Rodney Steward opens a window into the heart and soul of the Confederate South’s burgeoning professional middle class and reveals the complex set of desires, aspirations, and motivations that inspired men like Schenck to cast for themselves a Confederate identity that would endure the trials of war, the hardship of Reconstruction, and the birth of a New South.
After secession, Schenck remained on the home front as a receiver under the Act of Sequestration, enriching himself on the confiscated property of those he accused of disloyalty. After the war, his position as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan and his resistance to Radical Reconstruction policies won him a seat on the superior court bench, but scathing newspaper articles about his past upended a bid for chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a compelling fall from grace that reveals much about the shifting currents in North Carolina society and politics in the years after Reconstruction. During the last twenty years of his life, spent in Greensboro, Schenck created the Guilford Battleground Company in an effort to redeem the honor of the Tar Heels who fought there and his own honor as well.
Schenck’s life story provides a powerful new lens to examine and challenge widely held interpretations of secessionists, Confederate identity, Civil War economics, and home-front policies. Far more than a standard biography, this compelling volume challenges the historiography of the Confederacy at many levels and offers a sophisticated analysis of the evolution of a Confederate identity over a half century.
Rodney Steward is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina, Salkehatchie. His works have appeared in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, and North Carolina Historical Review.
The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign
The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg have inspired scrutiny from virtually every angle. Standing out amid the voluminous scholarship, this book is not merely one more narrative history of the events that transpired before, during, and after those three momentous July days in southern Pennsylvania. Rather, it focuses on and analyzes nineteen critical decisions by Union and Confederate commanders that determined the particular ways in which those events unfolded.
Matt Spruill, a retired U.S. Army colonel who studied and taught at the U. S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, contends that, among the many decisions made during any military campaign, a limited number—strategic, operational, tactical, organizational—make the difference, with subsequent decisions and circumstances proceeding from those defining moments. At Gettysburg, he contends, had any of the nineteen decisions he identifies not been made and/or another decision made in its stead, all sorts of events from those decision points on would have been different and the campaign and battle as we know it today would appear differently. The battle might have lasted two days or four days instead of three. The orientation of opposing forces might have been different. The battle could well have occurred away from Gettysburg rather than around the town. Whether Lee would have emerged the victor and Meade the vanquished remains an open question, but whatever the outcome, it was the particular decision-making delineated here that shaped the campaign that went into the history books.
Along with his insightful analysis of the nineteen decisions, Spruill includes a valuable appendix that takes the battlefield visitor to the actual locations where the decisions were made or executed. This guide features excerpts from primary documents that further illuminate the ways in which the commanders saw situations on the ground and made their decisions accordingly.
The Recollections of a Sharecropper's Son
A Southern Woman’s Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863–1890
Volume 2, Political Arguments
Volume 3, Judicial Decisions, 1857-1866