Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Booknotes V (Oct '14)

New Arrivals:

1. The Logbooks: Connecticut's Slave Ships and Human Memory by Anne Farrow (Wesleyan Univ Pr, 2014).

Farrow writes a combined narrative memory study, that of three largely forgotten slave ship voyages told through log books and her own mother's dementia induced cognitive loss. "As Farrow bore witness to the impact of memory loss on her mother’s sense of self, she also began a journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually retracing part of the Africa’s long-ago voyage to Sierra Leone. As the narrative unfolds in The Logbooks, Farrow explores the idea that if our history is incomplete, then collectively we have forgotten who we are—a loss that is in some ways similar to what her mother experienced. Her meditations are well rounded with references to the work of writers, historians, and psychologists. Forthright, well researched, and warmly recounted, Farrow’s writing is that of a novelist’s, with an eye for detail. Using a wealth of primary sources, she paints a vivid picture of the eighteenth-century Connecticut slavers. The multiple narratives combine in surprising and effective ways to make this an intimate confrontation with the past, and a powerful meditation on how slavery still affects us."

2. The Civil War Diary of Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy: The Original Manuscript Edition edited by William E. Gienapp and Erica L. Gienapp (Univ of Ill Pr, 2014).

As any footnote reader knows, the Welles diary has long been an essential resource for studying the Lincoln cabinet and administration. "In this new edition, William E. and Erica L. Gienapp have restored Welles’s original observations, gleaned from the manuscript diaries at the Library of Congress and freed from his many later revisions, so that the reader can experience what he wrote in the moment." In addition to the diary itself, which is "carefully edited and extensively annotated, this edition contains a wealth of supplementary material. The several appendixes include short biographies of the members of Lincoln’s cabinet, the retrospective Welles wrote after leaving office covering the period missing from the diary proper, and important letters regarding naval matters and international law." If you want the Welles diary on your shelf for reference purposes, this is the edition you need.

3. The Medal of Honor: A History of Service Above and Beyond by The Editors of Boston Publishing Company (Zenith Pr, 2014).

A pictorial history of the award, this book tells recipient stories while also discussing the origins and evolution of the MOH.

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