A Poignant and Personal Story of Slavery and Its Aftermath: Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon

Hurston, Zora Neale. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.” New York: Amistad, 2018. Nearly a century ago, a young, not-yet-famous Zora Neale Hurston traveled to the small community of Africatown (now Plateau) just north of Mobile, Alabama, where she would interview a local man named Cudjo Lewis. Lewis had been born Olaule Kossola […]... Read More
The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation

A History of Ideas in Graphic Illustration: Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell’s The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation

Hennessey, John and Aaron McConnell. The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation. New York: William Morrow, 2013. This book caught my eye when I was browsing a comic store in Gettysburg before I graduated in the spring of 2018. While I rarely read graphic novels in my own time, I had read and analyzed a number […]... Read More
John Keegan: The American Civil War

Not His Best Work: John Keegan’s The American Civil War

Keegan, John. The American Civil War: A Military History. New York: Random House, 2009. As a fan of John Keegan’s groundbreaking work The Face of Battle, I embarked with great excitement on his last work, The American Civil War. I specifically looked forward to both the trailblazing analysis he would bring to my favorite conflict […]... Read More

Judging the Past: The Historian as Ethicist

As I was reading Alexander Watson’s Ring of Steel for an upcoming Concerning History Book Club post, I was struck by how easily perspective can be lost when dealing with subjects that we find morally unacceptable. Ring of Steel offers a different portrait of the war than most English-language accounts. Early on, Watson argues that […]... Read More
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What is Leadership? What was Leadership?

In a Readers Digest article written during his retirement, Dwight Eisenhower ruminated about the characteristics of leadership. Beyond a certain “X Factor” that he chose to leave to psychologists to explain, Eisenhower identified selfless dedication, courage and conviction, fortitude, humility, thorough homework, and the power of persuasion. President Eisenhower was hardly the first person to […]... Read More
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Too Grand a Scope: Diane Sommerville’s Aberration of Mind

Whenever I get too entrenched in my own historical preferences, I know I can count on Heather to get me out with something new and totally different than I’ve ever read before. Christmas 2018 brought me not one but three new books from Heather, all of which will find their way onto Concerning History (hopefully before Christmas 2019!). The first covers an era that I am thoroughly familiar with, but focuses on an utterly alien subject. Diane Sommerville’s Aberration of Mind: Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War-Era South studies the occurrence, rationale, and cultural interpretation of self-destruction during and after the Civil War in the Confederacy, and I was intrigued by what insights such a study might offer into the minds of Victorian soldiers, civilians, and slaves. While Sommerville certainly expanded my knowledge of the South in the period she covers, ultimately her ambitions prove too grand for a single volume.... Read More

My Editor Wrote This Headline

Concerning History is a self-edited blog. Our staff, insofar as you can call us that, is comprised of 6 twenty-somethings with a mix of undergraduate and graduate education. None of us are professional editors. While that does mean our content is sometimes a little less than polished, I would still take this arrangement over the […]... Read More
Distant Revolutions

Ripples of Republicanism: Timothy Roberts’s Distant Revolutions

It is unwise, as the saying goes, to judge a book by its cover. More specifically, I have increasingly found that the titles and jacket descriptions of history books can be highly misleading as to the nature of the information, and arguments, within. Such was the case with Timothy Roberts’s Distant Revolutions. Heather and I recently acquired this book in an effort to learn more about its titular upheavals after mentioning it in our 2018 historical anniversaries post (found here). I expected a refreshing dose of perspective to American ideas of our own exceptionalism; instead, I found a fascinating history of connections that crossed the Atlantic and bridged the upheavals of 1848 with that of 1861.... Read More

Thirsty Women: Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled

About a year ago, we watched, intrigued, as a new trailer for a romantic drama unfolded before us. An independent film with a star-studded cast, it promised suspense, betrayal, and revenge in a tale of stilted lovers and, even better, it was set in during the American Civil War! That film was Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and we couldn’t wait to check it out and bask in the melodrama, for good or for laughably bad. We were finally able to get our hands on it recently, and it while it certainly wasn’t the most enriching film in terms of history, it’s story certainly didn’t disappoint.... Read More