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BOOK REVIEWS One Nation Indivisible: The Union in American Thought, 1776-1861. By Paul C. Nagel. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964. Pp. vii, 328. $7.00.) The substance of this book would have made a useful essay on the importance and permutations of the theme of Union in the antebellum United States. But the substance is very difficult to discern from the hundreds of quotations, the repetitions of theme, and the pretentious and opaque prose that fill these pages. Nor is it clear how the fashionable talk about myth and symbol applies to the problem at hand. There are doubtless valuable insights in all this. Certainly the various ways in which antebellum Americans conceived of Union is an important and neglected subject. The author seems to argue that the general movement was from a skeptical estimate of Union as Experiment to a deification of Union as overarching Absolute, to which all other values must yield. Yet all the various ways of perceiving Union seem to have been present in all periods, and the general drift from one point-of-view to another may be exaggerated. Several additional painstaking readings might disclose more of what the author is trying to say, but the probable yield does not seem sufficient to impose this painful duty on the reviewer. Charles Sellers University of California, Berkeley Naval Surgeon: Blockading the South 1862-1866. The Diary of Dr. Samuel Pellman Boyer. Edited by Elinor Barnes and James A. Barnes. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963. Pp. xxv, 390. $10.00.) Despite the abundance of Civil War diaries, little is currently in print concerning life on board the Union blockaders except for scattered, hardto -find material. The Barneses have performed a useful service to scholarship by editing this exceptionally fine journal, which will rate alongside the classic, shorter narrative, "A Diary of the Blockade," in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings ( 1918) . In June, 1862, a recent Pennsylvania medical school graduate, Dr. Samuel Pellman Boyer, purchased a uniform, packed his sea chest and, as a naval surgeon, sailed from New York in the gunboat Mohawk for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Boyer's day-to-day record continues through nearly three years of blockade duty along the coasts of Florida and the 322 Carolinas, and includes a brief tour in the peacetime navy. As a shrewd, competent observer and recorder, Boyer depicts everyday life in the squadron. He describes the horrible boredom of the blockade, the treatment of the sick, the places he visited, die sailors he met, the recreation concocted to counteract the tedium, and a host of odier items. Boyer vividly relates how the dullness was broken by occasional explosive action —the capture of the blockade runner Annie Thompson, the fight with the Confederate ram Albemarle, the hit-and-run raids along the coast. Such rich detail makes this volume a treasure-house of information on the Civil War at sea. In a short but informative preface the editors present background material about the task of the Civil War navies and compose a description of the author's character and personality. With the exception of minor changes in the text to increase readability, the Barneses have let Boyer speak for himself. The abundance of explanatory notes are invaluable, as otherwise many of the journalist's references would be unclear. So well have the editors elaborated upon the various aspects and events of the war mentioned in the diary that diis specialized work can be read with profit by the buff. Using a method that is fast becoming popular, the Barneses indent their explanations in the actual body of the text, presumably to avoid footnoting at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately this impedes the flow of Boyer's narrative, especially since the indentations tiiemselves call for annotations and citations of sources—primarily the Official Records—which appear at the back of the book. Despite this, and only run-of-the-mill illustrations, the Barneses have presented an important contribution. James M. Merrill Whittier College And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler. By Robert Seager II. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1963. Pp. xvii, 681. $12.50. ) "And Tyler...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 322-323
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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