Thursday, March 31, 2016

I’m Right! You’re Wrong! End of Story? – Part I

I’ve officially begun researching for my latest up-and-coming novel, Maiden America III – a.k.a. Proving America – which takes place during the War of 1812.

Last month, I ordered a whole stack of books from instead of buying something that could have combatted my insomnia. (In my defense, I knew the non-fiction would be a worthwhile investment. The wedge pillow was a lot less certain.) And the first one I’ve opened is Nicole Eustace’s 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism.

So far, it’s fascinating for so many reasons, some good, some not so much.

For example, it didn’t take me long to get a not-so-impressed-with-America vibe from Eustace. Which I suppose isn’t surprising since she’s an associate history professor at NYU. I mean, it is the trendy thing among academic circles to rebuke the U.S., if not the larger Western World.

Since I’m neither trendy nor part of academia, I often take the opposite view. Yet I had every intention of writing in Eustace’s favor today over what I felt was a particularly well-made point.

It was a comparison between the detached, romantic imagery of military engagements that most Americans were exposed to about the war, and the alleged idiocy at the Civil War’s Battle of Bull Run, where picnic-packing citizens were surprised when the battle ruined their appetites.

However, when I went to do the simplest of fact-checks to make sure I wasn’t messing anything up, I came across a page at at, which shows a whole different side to that legendary story.

Overall, I’ve never been very interested in the era, but I have heard of Bull Run. And I always looked down my nose at the locals, imagining belles in hoop skirts nibbling on petit fours and chatting merrily with their neighbors before the bloodbath.

As it turns out though, I – and Eustace – might have been very wrong there, considering what Manassas National Battlefield Museum specialist Jim Burgess claims, saying that the spectators were almost all men, were situated five miles from the fighting, and had brought food with them because it was the practical thing to do, not because it was the equivalent of popcorn at a show.

Talk about an opposite view!

If that’s true, then Eustace’s allegations of over-the-top militaristic propaganda during the War of 1812 isn’t looking so strong. And I’ll admit I’m taken down a few pegs too.

Which, honestly, probably serves both of us right. It rarely pays to be so cocksure of an opinion.
Conservatives, are you happy that a liberal got told off? Well, so am I… but don’t think you’re off the hook either, as “I’m Right! You’re Wrong! End of Story? – Part II” will show tomorrow. It’s about time we all began using our brains and our manners together.

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