“War is all Hell”

William T. Sherman was one of the more famous generals of the American Civil War.   Best known for his march through Georgia in 1864-65, cutting themselves off from their supply trains.  His armies foraged off the territory they were traveling through, reaching Savannah right before Christmas 1864, in time for Sherman to present the President of the United States with a Christmas present of the Georgia city.  By the spring of 1865, Sherman continued his march, this time northward through South Carolina and North Carolina, where he accepted the surrender Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army.

 Sherman didn’t believe, like a lot of military officers, that war was a gentleman’s game.  For example, when boats  and trains carrying his troops were shot at, Sherman sent soldiers to burn buildings in the towns where the shots came from and placed hostages on the trains and boats.   When he was the military commander in Memphis in 1862, he sent families south through Confederate lines as retaliation for his troops being shot at.

Almost as controversial was Sherman’s policy toward runaway slaves.  As a Democrat, Sherman was against freeing slaves, the opposite view from his brother John, the Republican senator from Ohio.  When the Union army moved into Tennessee following the battle at Shiloh, slaves thought the troops were their salvation.  Sherman  gave Union commanders permission to take slaves as long they could prove they were used in the war effort.

Sherman first encounter with combat was at First Bull Run.  After that, he was sent to Kentucky when he was forced to leave to recover from mental problems.  At Shiloh, Tennessee, in April 1862, he fought alongside Ulysses Grant.  He followed Grant as the Union commander in Memphis.  After spending a number of weeks in Memphis in 1862, Grant ordered Sherman to move downstream and attack Confederate forces near Vicksburg, Mississippi.   Although that expedition was a failure, it set the stage for Grant’s attack on Vicksburg the following year, when, after a long siege, the Confederates occupying the city surrendered on July 4, opening the Mississippi and splitting the Confederacy.   The next target for the two generals was Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga campaign was Grant’s last in the West, before he was sent to Virginia by President Lincoln to oppose Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.   Before Sherman and Grant got to East Tennessee, the Union Army of the Cumberland was soundly beaten by Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee as Chickamauga in Northern Georgia.  Sherman and Grant’s task was to raise the siege placed on Rosecrans’ Union forces in Chattanooga by Bragg’s army, which occupied high ground around the city.   In two months, the Union Armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland drove the Confederates into Georgia, setting the stage for Sherman’s Atlanta campaign and eventually the March to the Sea.

For much of the the next year, 1864-65, Sherman’s army strived to capture Atlanta by not confronting Joseph Johnston’s Confederate army head on, but rather using flanking attacks.  The one time he did order a full frontal attack, at Kennesaw Mountain, it was a disaster for the enemy was dug in, in well built trenches.   Sherman’s army attacked with 15,000 men and suffered twenty percent casualties.   After that, the only barrier keeping Sherman from Atlanta was the Chattahoochee River, which he crossed July 17.  After a series a battles around the city, Sherman, tired of bloodletting, settled in for a siege, which ended on September  1st, when the Federals learned the enemy had retreated.

Sherman famed March to the Sea through Georgia began on November 15.   His army was divided into two wings both heading generally southeast.  The Confederates thought Augusta on the border of South Carolina was the target, so Jefferson Davis sent Braxton Bragg to defend the city.  But right before Christmas Sherman’s army reached the outskirts of the real destination, Savannah.  Since the defenders of the city had withdrawn, the local government declared Savannah an open city, saving it from destruction.  Sherman sent President Lincoln a telegram presenting  him with Savannah as a Christmas present.

The Union army occupying Savannah rested in preparation for the next step in their advance through Confederate territory: South Carolina.  Where Sherman governed his troops actions in Georgia, that was not the case in South Carolina.  Union soldiers were looking forward to causing as much damage in South Carolina as possible because they knew that’s where the war started.  The state capital, Columbia, was heavily damaged by fire, which Sherman blamed on Confederate troops under the command of South Carolina native Wade Hampton.   As Jacqueline Campbell states, historians have debated the cause of the extent of the damage in Columbia.  Having read both sides of the argument, I have come to the conclusion it was a combination of the Confederates burning cotton to keep it out of the hands of the advancing Federals and Union soldiers getting their hands on liquor and carrying on with drunken partying while setting fires.

The Spring of 1865 found Sherman and his army in the Old North State, where the war was winding down. The original plan which he and Grant had cooked up had Sherman’s army moving north through North Carolina to Lee from the rear.  However, Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia  to Grant on April 9 at Appomattox Courthouse.  That ended that aspect of the war in Virginia.  President Davis and other members of his administration had already escaped southward by train, but making it clear he wished the war to continue.   In the meantime, Sherman was pursuing General Johnston’s army in the piedmont of North Carolina, hoping to negotiate  a surrender soon.  That happened on April 26, two weeks after Lee’s capitulation.

The books listed below include Sherman’s Memoirs;  Biographies by Eisenhower, Fellman. Kennett, and Marszalek;  Flood’s study of his relationship with General Grant;  and finally Campbell, Hess, and Trudeau’s books on the Atlanta campaign, the march through Georgia and beyond.   There is caveat about General John Eisenhower’s book:  he died before it was published and the person who edited it evidently didn’t have a background in Civil War history for the Union Army of the Tennessee and the Confederate Army of Tennessee are thoroughly mixed up the book.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil WarVolume 4.

Jacqueline Glass Campbell.  When Sherman Marched North from the Sea:  Resistance on the Confederate Home Front.

John S. D. Eisenhower.  American General: The Life and Times  of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Michael Fellman.  Citizen Sherman:  a Life of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Charles Bracelen Flood.  Grant and Sherman.

Earl J. Hess.  Kennesaw Mountain:  Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign.

Lee Kennett.  Sherman:  A Soldier’s Life.

John F. Marszalek.  Sherman:  A Soldier’s Passion for Order.

William T. Sherman.  Sherman: Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman.

Noah Andre Trudeau.  Southern Storm:  Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Steven E. Woodworth.  Nothing But Victory:  the Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865.

Listen & Learn

Many years ago on a road trip with my two kids I discovered something pretty amazing.  I discovered the power of listening to a story.  I know how hard it is for parents to keep the kiddos occupied on car trips – been there – still doing that.  You know, those long hours in confined spaces with nothing much to do except ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much farther?”

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“Are we there yet?  How much farther?”

So, on this particular trip I decided to try getting a couple of Donald Davis storytelling CD’s from the local public library.  I love Donald Davis so I figured at least I could be content on the trip.  What I learned is that both kids and I were mesmerized by the telling of the stories.  After that, anytime I knew we would be held captive in the car I sought out not just Donald Davis but other things like books on CD to keep our minds occupied to the point we did not much care if we were there yet or how much further we had to go.

There have been other times through the years that listening to stories has come to the rescue.  I remember the push of making that reading goal with both my children, especially in middle school.  I discovered that many titles that they were “allowed” to read were available on CD at the public library.  That saved us many a drama when it came time to tally up points or the dreaded word count.

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Listening to a great story!

It did take a little research and planning ahead but I can say there have been many titles over the years that we have enjoyed listening to and it was a great way to spark some pretty in depth discussions with the kids.

As you can see I support listening to audio books and stories.  I did a search on NC Live and came up with some other people who feel the same as me.  For example, according to Technology & Learning, February 2016,  it can support students who do not like to read perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by reading for whatever reason as well as “support critical thinking skills” or “re-ignite a passion for reading”.  Then there is the idea that “children who are listeners become readers” and that “children can handle a harder book without struggling” which will support their vocabulary and comprehension development, (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2002).

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A great story is just a listen away!

The public library has many great offerings to support listening to books and stories.  Of course, there are the tried and true books on CD.  Some favorite titles for me include The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Ginger Pye.  Fontana Regional Library branches have recently purchased some pretty cool audio books.  They are called VOX Books.  These books are neat because the audio is built into the book.  It even has a port to plug in earphones.  It makes it a very portable option for kids.  Some of the titles we have include Don’t Push the Button! and My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not).

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There is another option I learned about recently that has really streamlined the way I get access to my audiobooks.  This has proved to be a wonderful option as I am on the road commuting a lot throughout the region.  If you have not checked out the eAudio options Fontana Regional Library offers, you should!

First, I downloaded the OverDrive app, which is free.  For my eAudio options I chose to download the app to my phone but it can also be downloaded to other devices.  Then I entered the information to make my account.  They basically just want your library card number and an email address.  Then I started browsing.  Once I found a title I downloaded it to my phone (while I had access to Wi-Fi, of course) and when I am in the car I open the OverDrive app and click on the title I want to listen to and voila instant access to my stories without fumbling with changing CD’s while driving and there is nothing to physically return.  The OverDrive app also gives you access to eBooks and as I mentioned before you can download the app on more than one device.  Literally all I ever need is at my fingertips!

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In this season of travel please consider using audio books and stories as a way to make those miles go by faster whether you are traveling far away or are traveling on your daily commute.  The benefits are worth it!

Churchill’s “The World Crisis”

As we get closer to November 11, Veteran’s Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the UK, we need to remember those have sacrificed their lives so we can live in freedom.  One hundred years ago the Great War was being fought in Europe and the Middle East.  As I do every year at this time, I remember my uncle, Patrick Morrison, who served in the Seaforth Highlanders and survived the Great War, both on the western front and at  Gallipoli, which is the subject of this blog!

Followers of my blog will have deduced by now I am a admirer of Winston Churchill.  I have in my personal library most of his important works of history and a lot of books written about him.  The one book of Churchill’s I was missing and wanted was his The World Crisis , a four volume history of the Great War.   A few months ago, I thought about buying the one volume paperback edition of his abridgement, but before I could, a co-worker found a hardback copy at an estate sale and presented it to me without knowing  how much I desired that particular  volume.

In the earlier  world war, Churchill was not the hero he was to the British people he was in the Second World War.  To be sure he was in the top ranks of the government, but not as prime minister.  He started out the conflict as First Lord of the Admiralty (the political head of the Royal Navy), running the most powerful arm of the British armed forces, scattered all over the world; working with the sea lords, the professional commanders of the fleet.

For more than a century the enemy lay just across the English Channel in France, but now the foe was the German High Seas fleet based on the east side of the North Sea, and the ally was the French.   Accordingly, when the threat of war became clear in August 1914, the fleet was dispatched to a base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands just north of Scotland, where it could easily confront the Germans on the North Sea.  Great Britain was drawn into the war by guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium from invasion by the Huns, as the Germans were called then.  An ultimatum was sent to the German government, due to expire at midnight August 4, 1914.  Churchill describes the final minutes leading up to that fatal midnight thusly:

 “It was 11 o’clock at night–12 by German time–when the ultimatum expired.  The windows of the Admiralty were thrown open in the warm night air.  Under the roof…were gathered a small group of Admirals and Captains and a cluster of clerks, pencil in hand,  waiting.  Along the Mall from the direction of the Palace the sound of an immense concourse singing ‘God Save the King’ floated in.  On this deep wave there broke the chimes of Big Ben; and, as the first stroke boomed out, a rustle of movement swept the across the room.  The war telegram, which meant ‘Commence hostilities against Germany’ was flashed to ships and and establishments  under the White Ensign all over the world.  I walked across Horse Guard’s Parade to the Cabinet room [at 10 Downing Street] and reported to the Prime Minister and the Ministers who were assembled there that the deed was done.”

Churchill’s main contribution, and perhaps downfall, at the Admiralty was the Dardanelles campaign.  The Dardanelles is the body of water that connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara in northwest Turkey.  As long as the Dardanelles was in the hands of the Turks, the Russians were blocked from a southern all year route out of Black Sea past Constantinople  and westward to the Aegean Sea.  Of all the Allies’ ill gotten attacks against Germany and its supporters, the Dardanelles was one of the most unfortunate and Churchill was at the heart of the planning of this fiasco.

At the heart of this unfortunate plan was the fact that the land war on the Western Front had reached a stalemate barely four months into the war.  Churchill wanted, as he did in World War II, to advance allied forces in the Mediterranean, this time  against the Austrians and Turks, who were both a part of the Central Powers.   According to Churchill, the planning for attacks against what was left of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) began in January 1915.   Churchill convinced the First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher, of his plan to use an Allied fleet made up partially of older dreadnoughts and some modern ships to force their way up the Dardanelles toward Constantinople.    There were differing opinions as to whether this could be accomplished by the Navy alone or whether troops would be needed to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula which bordered on the left side of the Dardanelles.

After two months of planning, the Royal Navy, along with a smaller group of French ships, attacked the Turkish forts along the waterway.  The Turks, expecting a attack, mined the Dardanelles between its opening to the Aegean Sea and the Narrows, which guarded to entrance to the Sea of Marmara.    The modern battleships of the British fleet were out of range of the Turkish forts until they entered the Dardanelles and came in contact with the Turkish mines, some of which the Allies did not know the location of.   The French admiral’s flagship was sunk with virtually all hands lost.  Some of the British ships were severely damaged and retreated.  The War Council, at Churchill’s behest, voted to use troops to invade the Gallipoli Peninsula.    The causalities from the invasion were horrific and Churchill was the scapegoat and he was sacked from the Admiralty.

Reading Churchill’s version of  events while he was First Lord of the Admiralty reminded me of a Max Hastings quote I used before when I was the discussing Churchill’s role in the Dardanelles/Gallipoli affair:  “Churchill believed himself exceptionally fitted for the direction of armies, navies, and air forces.  He perceived no barrier to such a role in the fact that he possessed neither military staff training nor experience of higher field command.”   Comparing his activities in both the world wars, he made his greatest errors in the Mediterranean theater.   When you are reading Churchill’s account of both wars, Hastings’ opinion  is very apt.

 

BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS

This, I believe, is the 50th blog in this series, so I thought I would review, to the best of my memory, some of books I have read over my lifetime.  I have always had books at home.  Being I was a history major in undergraduate and graduate school (not counting MSLS degree) and history is a reading intensive subject, my education brought me in contact with even more books.
Like me, Emily Dickinson loved books and even wrote a poem about them:

There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
                                        EMILY DICKINSON
 I do not recall what my parents read to me before I could read.  Babar is the first character in book I can remember.  Enid Blyton, who was a famous author of children’s adventure stories in Great Britain, had published six of the “Famous Five” series by the time I left Scotland in 1948. I think I had read them all.
When we moved to Memphis in 1949, one the first things my mother did was to visit the old Cossitt Library downtown to get us both a library card.     There I discovered Joseph Altsheler, who wrote a number of series of historical novels for what we now call middle school boys. (I was delighted to discover Altsheler’s books are still available in either paperback or Kindle editions from Amazon.)  As a sixth grader and on into junior high I read his books and a series of biographies of famous baseball players and managers and other sports figures.   In fiction my choice was also sports including John Tunis, who wrote about all sports, not  just basketball, baseball, and football.
In high school and college I had little time for pleasure reading, but when I did, I read Leon Uris, James Jones, and James Michener each of whom wrote historical novels, some based on their experiences in World War II.  Meantime, in classes, I was introduced to a number books I still have in my personal library:  The Tennessee: the Old River by Donald Davidson, which I had to read for class in Tennessee History;  and  Mont Saint Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams, which was required reading for Medieval History.  A graduate reading course in Southern history made me familiar with William Faulkner’s  Absalom, Absalom!, Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, and Eugene Genovese’s powerful study of the world slaves lived in Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made.    For other classes I read Nixon Agonistes by Gary Wills and The Quiet American by Graham Greene.
In the mid-1970s a colleague introduced me to a genre of fiction that has given me pleasure ever since:  the mystery.  In this vein, I just learned that one of favourite mystery writers, Ruth Rendell, died last May.   She was equally at home with psychological mysteries or police procedural  novels.  In fact, her Inspector Wexford series was adapted for television.   Anne PerryTess Gerritsen, Rhys  Bowen, Jacqueline Winspear, and, of course Agatha Christie, are a just a few of my favourite mystery authors.
Mysteries are my habitual fiction reading tastes.  In non-fiction I tend to read military (mainly Civil War, WWI and WWII) history and biography.  Such interests have seeped through onto this blog.  See, for example, previous  blogs on Shelby Foote, Winston Churchill, and John Keegan.  During the last few years, when I’ve evidently have had more time,  I have read and am reading multi-volume works such as Foote’s The Civil War, Douglas Southall Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants: a Study in Command, Rick Atkinson’s The Liberation Trilogy,  about the American army in North Africa and Europe, Volumes 1 and 2 of Ian W, Toll’s in progress Pacific War Trilogyand Carl Sandburg’s massive biography of Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years and The War Years.
About fifteen years ago, I decided to keep a log showing what I had read and the date I finished the book.   Beginning in 2002, I have, on my computer, a complete list of books I have read each year.  I also keep a record of the number of pages in each volume so I can see how many pages I have read.  (BWT: I don’t tell my wife because she thinks I read too much already!)  That came in handy a few years ago when a friend accused me of reading nothing but boring history books, I could tell that person that over the past few years I had read fiction and non-fiction equally.   And I plan on doing that as long I can read!

CHURCHILL II, 1939-1965

When Winston Churchill became the First Lord of the Admiralty for the second time in 1939, he ended his decade exile from government.   Then Neville Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940 and Winston Churchill assumed that office.   Soon afterwards he addressed the British people and later the House of Commons.  He told both groups he could only offer, “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”   As Prime Minister he announced to the Commons he had formed a government made up representatives of Tories and Labour to meet the crisis  situation on the continent caused by the German blitzkrieg.   The French forces and BEF (British Expeditionary Force) were retreating, with the latter in the danger of being surrounded with their backs to the English Channel at Dunkirk. Eventually, the French government surrendered and BEF was rescued by an armada of boats of all sizes and shapes. Later, in September 1940, the blitz, the bombing of English cities, began;  the aerial Battle of Britain was underway.  The Royal Air Force (RAF) kept the Germans from gaining air superiority over England and forced Hitler to postpone Operation Sea Lion, the cross-channel invasion.

Earlier, when Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, he opened correspondence with Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President of the United States.  The two men kept the communication open throughout the blitz and into 1941.  In June that year, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, turning his military might  eastward, away from Britain.  Two months later, Churchill boarded a battleship, sailing to Newfoundland to meet with FDR.   That was the first of eleven times during the war that the two men met, including lengthy stays at the White House and the president’s estate in the Hudson Valley in New York and twice in North Africa, once in Iran, and once in Crimea, in the southern part of the Soviet Union.   Stalin joined Roosevelt and Churchill in the last two conferences.  Churchill as met with Stalin without Roosevelt.

After the United States joined the war in December 1941, Churchill tried to convince Roosevelt to commit American troops and resources to defeating Hitler’s Germany instead of going after the Japanese, whose attack on Pearl Harbor brought America into the conflict.   Roosevelt was convinced that crossing the English Channel to attack German forces in Europe was the best way to introduce American troops into the European theater.   Churchill and his military staff convinced the Americans to land in North Africa, to help the British fight Gen. Rommel’s German army in the desert.  With Stalin trying to the Allies to commit to a second front in Western Europe, it was decided the invasion would take place in the spring of 1944 with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower  as the commander.

As the war processed, Churchill felt his relationship with Roosevelt was getting strained.  There were a number of reasons for this:  first, after Stalin joined the summits, Churchill found himself playing a less significant role in the meetings;  Roosevelt was playing more attention to the Russian leader and less to the British Prime Minister.   Another factor was Churchill’s determination to keep the British empire together in a post-war world, which countered  Roosevelt’s policy to free nations from the British yoke after the defeat of Germany and Japan.   A final reason was the British military was having less of say in the strategic decisions how the war was being fought.  At any rate, when Roosevelt died in April 1945, Churchill felt he had lost a dear friend.

As the the Allies were getting closer to defeating Germany, the British Labour Party decided  to end its participation in the War Cabinet and got Churchill to call a General Election, that was to take place in the summer of 1945.    The election was held on 5 July, but the votes were not counted until 26 July to allow for the votes of service men and women who were abroad to be counted.  In the meantime Churchill went to Germany to meet with Stalin and Harry Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt, taking Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party with him.   The two returned to London for the vote count, which gave the Labour Party a solid majority in Commons.  The British people had rejected Churchill, who now was the leader of the Opposition.  However, six years later, Churchill was back in power.

In his second term as Prime Minister, Churchill lost an other close supporter, George VI.   The monarch died of lung cancer in February 1952, while his eldest daughter was on tour in South Africa.   Churchill became the first of twelve Prime Ministers who have served under Elizabeth II.  Churchill remained her as Prime Minister until 1954, when his health became an issue.

In the post-war years, Churchill continued to write, finishing his History of the English Speaking People and publishing his memoirs of World War II.  He also traveled abroad, notably giving his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in the  United States.   In 1952, he had a re-recurrence of the heart problems that had bothered him during the war.   In 1953, at the age of 78, he had a stroke.  In the spring of the following year, he resigned.  Following four additional strokes, Churchill died at 90 years of  age in January 1965.

Max Hastings.  Winston’s War.

John Keegan.  Winston Churchill.

John Lukas.  Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat.

William Manchester and John Reid.  The Last Lion, Vol. 3.

Secrets of Leadership: Churchill (Video)

Winston Churchill: The Whole Truth (Video)

eHealth: Doctor-Patient Teamwork for Improved Health Outcomes

e-health-feat-imageeHealth is a growing trend in medicine- many doctors and hospitals are making patient records available electronically, allowing patients to log in to “health portals” to see their own records. In addition to the convenience these services provide, other benefits include better quality and more efficient health care, increased privacy and security of health information, reduction of paperwork through administrative simplification, and better patient involvement- all of which are expected to help decrease healthcare costs.

My own doctor has a patient portal available. On my computer and smartphone (yes, there’s an app for that, too!) I can login to check my medical records – see the medications and dosages I’ve been prescribed, see notes from all my visits, see lab results, scheduled appointments, and even send messages to my doctor. The health portal also includes built-in patient trackers- if your doctor has asked you to track things like your blood pressure or blood sugar at home, you can have your results sent right to your doctor in real time!

mobile-phone-health-appI think that’s one of the greatest benefits of eHealth: getting patients more involved in their own care. Often times, a visit to your doctor’s office is a blur and it’s hard to remember all the instructions given, discharge papers get lost in the shuffle, or you can’t remember the name of that antibiotic you took last year that you had a bad reaction to.  Patient portals let you review all of that information and also let you share more information with your doctor. If you forget to mention something at an appointment that you had meant to tell your doctor, send them a message! So much easier than trying to remember it for your next visit!

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study has shown that deploying eHealth technologies improves health behaviors and physiological outcomes: in one prenatal program in Sao Paulo, the proportion of pregnant women who completed their scheduled prenatal visits increased from 10% to 80% after the implementation of an eHealth program and health outcomes across several conditions saw a large improvement.

Doctors aren’t the only resources for eHealth. The library also has resources to help you manage your health care. Visit the NCLive Health and Wellness Information Center to access health eBooks, health databases, and other health resources.

Other Online Resources

MedlinePlus – this service from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health provides information about health topics, drugs and supplements, and interactive tools and health tutorials.

Mayo Clinic – find articles on diseases, symptoms, medical procedures and much more! Their healthy lifestyle section offers articles on nutrition, fitness, and health, as well as access to healthy recipes.

NC Health Info –  get information on general health topics as well as local services. Check out their Being an Informed Patient page for more resources!

National Institute of Mental Health – provides information and resources for a variety of mental health conditions.

North Carolina Medical Board Consumer Resources – offers information about health providers and resources for filing complaints.


 

Information is always great- but remember that no website on the internet can diagnose or treat you or your health conditions. Use what you learn on your own to open a dialogue with your doctor so that he or she can address your concerns while offering you the benefits of their expertise and diagnostic tools. You and your doctor, working together, can more positively affect your health and well-being.

CRIME NOIR

By Stephen

 A while ago, I read a  mystery, The Black Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black, featuring Philip Marlowe  Raymond Chandler’s favorite private eye.  Black is not the first contemporary author to use Chandler’s character.  Before his death, Robert B. Parker, wrote a sequel to The Big Sleep.  Parker also finished Chandler’s “Poodle Springs.” Private detectives, who wander between the law and the underworld, accepted by neither, are generally the main characters in noir mystery novels and films.  “Oh, I wish I had a pencil-thin mustache, the Boston Blackie kind, then I could solve some mysteries too.,” sings Jimmy Buffett.

Boston Blackie, Sam Spade, Thin Man (AKA Nick Charles) are just few of the heroes, or anti-heroes if you prefer.   But noir books and film didn’t all had private detectives as the main characters.  James M. Cain’s short story “Double Indemnity,” featuring an insurance salesman who helps a woman, a ‘femme fatale,’ murder her husband by making appear an accident so she can cash in on the double indemnity clause on his insurance policy.  Likewise, “The Postman Always Rings Twice, ” features a woman who wants get rid of her husband and cons a man into helping her commit the crime.

Early noir short stories, novellas, and novels was originally written for publishing in the pulp magazines as “Phantom Detective.”   Noir authors who wrote for pulp magazines included Cornell Woolrich, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett among others.

Dave Robicheaux, a modern creation of James Lee Burke, is a retired policemen who makes his home in the bayous of Louisiana, where crime is  around every slough, and eventually leads Dave back to New Orleans, where he used to enforce the law.   Burke’s Robicheaux novels have an atmosphere as dark as the 1930s and 1940s noir tales.  I suppose one could argue the Louisiana swamps have a greater sense of evil  than sunny California.

New Orleans was also the location of Ezlia Kazan’s picture, “Panic in the Streets,” a 1950  release. Richard Widmark stars as U. S. Public Health Officer charged finding a fugitive stricken with bubonic plague before he infects the city. The plot adds a new dimension to noir genre.   The film was filmed on location, making New Orleans a character in the film in its own right.

Mickey Spillane introduced his character, Mike Hammer in “I the Jury,” in 1947.  I seem to remember the paperback version being passed around when I was in the the eighth or ninth grade.    I remember it had a salacious cover that would interest junior high boys.   Spillane would go on to write over a dozen Hammer novels, including some finished by a friend after Spillane died in 2006.

“Spenser for Hire” was the tv version of Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser novels.  Spenser, private detective who has frequent run-ins with the Boston underworld on the one hand and the Boston police on the other.   Spenser’s sidekick Hawk, played menacingly by Avery Brooks on the tv series, is there when he needs extra muscle.  Some readers think Spenser is a direct descendant of  Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.

Walter Mosley is another modern writer whose main character is of the hard-boiled variety.  Easy Rawlins is a black veteran, living in Watts section of Los Angeles.  Mosley’s hero is a novice detective, who lives his life from the forties into the mid-sixties.    In the later books he has the respect of the LAPD, who turns to him to solve some politically charged cases.

Kinsey Millhone, a creation of Sue Grafton, is another California based private detective.  The  main character of Grafton’s alphabet novels, is a female version of the hard-boiled detective.   Kinsey’s stories are set in the late seventies and eighties, so she doesn’t have access to more modern crime solving techniques such the internet or cell phones.   Like the private detectives of the forties and fifties, she brushes shoulders with people who live on the edge of polite society.

Dan Simmons reaches back to  the time of Charles Dickens in his novel, “Drood.”   Dickens’  friend Wilkie  Collins narratives his fellow writer’s search to find a mysterious man he encountered after the train he was riding in wrecked. The two men’s search takes them to the dark demi world of London’s slums, including the infamous  opium dens.  The reader slowly realizes that Collins and Dickens are drug addicts and begins to doubt the reliability of the former’s narrative.

In 1997, The Library of America published a two volume set of American noir writing  entitled  “Crime Novels:  American Noir of the 1930s & 4os”  and “Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s.”   These two volumes are a good place to start if you are not familiar with the genre.   NovelList+ on NCLive is another resource to explore the noir genre.

Sources:

 http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes.html

World War I (Part 2)

By Stephen

On the western front in 1914, the Germans invaded France through Belgium and soon faced a counter-attack by the French and British.  The invaders were pushed back to the Aisne River, where both sides dug in, in what one writer says was the “last Nineteenth Century war.”  What he meant was, instead of armies moving, trench warfare made them static; and as a result, the front in the west stayed pretty the same until the end of the war.  Offensives,  such the Somme, provided a level of casualties never before seen (1.2 million in both sides) in modern warfare, all for the gain of a few yards.

Staying in trenches didn’t mean soldiers were safe.  Gas injured and killed a large number of men from the first time it was used by the Germans at the second Battle of Ypres in April 2015, soon both sides were using the silent killer.  Artillery duels were particularly devastating to trench inhabitants, since the big guns were used soften opponents before either side launched an offensive.  In fact, most battlefield deaths were the result of artillery barrages.  The Allies also used tanks, heavily armored machines that ran on continuous treads making them easier to drive on irregular terrain than vehicles with ordinary wheels.  Soldiers run over by tanks often disappeared in the mud, never to be found again.  Both sides also used sappers to plant mines under enemy trenches with deadly results.

Both the allies and the Central Powers were fighting a multi-front war.  The Germans were able shift more troops to the western front after Russians pulled out of the war; following their revolution, when the Communists took  0ver the government.   Great Britain and France fought against the remains of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, both in modern Iraq and in Saudi Arabia.  In the latter area an Arab revolt was led by Lawrence of Arabia.   In addition, there was an ill fated  direct attack on Turkey on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Most historians agree that the United States entering the war in 1917 tilted the scales in favor of the Allies.  The secondary reason for this action was the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.  But more important was the Zimmerman telegram which promised Mexico some territory it had lost in the war with the United States in the 1840s, if it joined Germany in the war against the U.S.   In 2003, Richard Rubin published The Last of the Doughboys, the result of his finding and interviewing veterans of the American experience in Europe in 1917-1918.  All the men he talked to were between 106 and 110 and all had died by time the book came out.   James Carl Nelson used archival material to tell the stories of five young graduates of Harvard who fought in France in 1918 in The Five  Lieutenants.

The American army participated in the last Allied offensive that led to the armistice been declared on November 11, 1918, at 11 A.M. (the eleventh month, the eleventh day, the eleventh hour)  The United States suffered 110 thousand deaths which was miniscule when compared with death toll of the European nations:  United Kingdom: 908,300; France: 1.3 million; and  Germany: 2.1 million. Russian death are harder to estimate, but they were somewhere over 2 million.

Not all the dead were identified. The United Kingdom, France and the United States dedicated monuments to Unknown Soldiers after the war.   France’s La tombe du soldat inconnu was placed in the Arc de Triomphe, Britain’s in Westminster Abbey, and the United States’ in Arlington National Cemetery.  The British also placed a memorial in Whitehall in London, the Cenotaph, which memorializes all United Kingdom soldiers who have given their lives  in service to their country.  Every year on Remembrance Sunday (The Sunday before November 11),  at 11 o’clock in the  morning, the time the armistice took effect, two minutes of silence are observed across the nation.   One minute to remember the death and one to honor the survivors.

Germany was defeated and the Allies made sure that country paid dearly at the peace conference in Paris.  The victors drafted the Versailles Peace Treaty which called for an international body called the League of Nations.  Reparations, called for in the treaty, ruined the German economy to the point inflation made money worthless in the 1920s and the resulting unrest sowed the seeds of World War II.  But that is another story.

Footnote:  An uncle on my mother’s side, Patrick Morrison, served in the Great War in Gordon Highlanders on both the Western front and Gallipoli.  He was one of the fortunate ones who survived.

Additional Reading

Niall Ferguson.  The Pity of War:  Explaining World War I Niall Ferguson.   War of the World:  Twentieth Century Conflict and the  the Decline of the West Paul Fussel.  The Great War and Modern Memory. Martin Gilbert.  World War I . Adam Hochschild.  To End All Wars:  A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion. John Keegan.  World War I. Jay Winter and Blaine Baggett.  The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century

Lyn MacDonald.  Somme.  Neil Hanson.  Unknown Soldiers:  The Story of the Missing of the First World WarBarbara Tuchman.  The Zimmerman Telegram.

Videos:

Slaughter  in the Trenches

Digging up the Trenches

Battle of the Somme

Remembrance Sunday Ceremony at the Cenotaph 

World War I, Part 1

By Stephen

At the end of June 1914, few Americans paid attention to a story in newspapers about the assassination of the heir to the Austrian-Hungary throne in the Serbian capital of Sarajevo.  The Austrians demanded satisfaction from the Serbians with an ultimatum.  Germany backed Austria, Russia supported  their fellow Slavs in Serbia, and France and Great Britain became involved because of secret treaties tying  them to Russia.  Virtually all European countries mobilized their armies and the continent was at war within weeks.

People who were familiar with the European situation were not surprised at war breaking out.  The nineteenth century saw different European countries at each other’s throats over the “Dark Continent,” Africa. Explorers from Great Britain,  Germany, France, and  Belgium were uncovering mineral riches in the interior, while the British already had footprints in South Africa and North Africa in the Nile watershed; and of course, their lifeline to India, the Suez Canal.

Furthermore, smaller wars were fought by the European powers over the two decades prior to the Great War.  Britain fought an unpopular war with the Boers in South Africa. Spain lost its war with the United States in Cuba and the Philippines.  Russia was beaten by Japan in the far east.  The Ottoman empire (i.e. Turkey) was collapsing: the Balkan League had driven the Turks from the Balkan Peninsula.  In other words, all of the continent was an armed camp, waiting for an excuse to mobilize.

Meanwhile, Germany and Great Britain engaged in an arms race at sea. Queen Victoria was aging while her nation was aggressively building war ships to compete with Germany, governed by her grandson, Emperor Wilhelm.  In Russia, another grandson, Nicholas  was Tsar.   The coming war pitted the late Victoria’s grandchildren against each other. George V  of Great Britain and Tzar Nicholas were on the same  side, Wilhelm on the other.  Unfortunately,  Nicholas and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, after Russia withdrew from the war in 1917.

At the opening of the war, the Germans planned to invade France through Belgium and get the French out the way before British could intervene.  But the invaders were stopped short of Paris, by re-enforcements brought by taxis from the capital.  Then, bolstered by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) the French counter-attacked.   The ensuing Battle of Marne pushed the Germans back to the Aisne River, where both sides dug a intricate series of trenches that lasted till the end of the war.

Like in the American Civil War, commanders took time to develop different tactics to deal with new weapons.  Going “over the top,” out of trenches, against machine gun fire was suicidal as much as Civil War soldiers charging against emplaced troops with rifles was fruitless and deadly.  Tanks with heavy armor replaced cavalry, although some countries continued to use horse borne soldiers into World War II.  Armored piercing shells was answer to tanks.  Gas was another new weapon both sides used against their enemies in spite being forbad by treaties. Bombing from the air, first from dirigibles, later from planes made targets of civilians ,  although not with the frequency of the Second World War.  Most deaths and injuries on the battlefield came from artillery shelling. At sea, submarines could sink surface ships with no warning. Unlike earlier wars, where most fatalities were caused by disease, this time most military deaths came from combat.

Bibliography

Run up to WWI:

Blom, Phillipp.  The Vertigo Years:  Europe, 1900-1914.

Robert F. Massie.  Dreadnought:  Great Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War.

Barbara Tuchman.  The Proud Tower:  a portrait of the world before the war, 1890-1914.

General Histories:

Niall Ferguson.  The Pity of War:  Explaining World War I

Paul Fussel.  The Great War and Modern Memory.

Martin Gilbert.  World War I .

Adam Hochschild.  To End All Wars:  A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion.

John Keegan.  World War I.

Jay Winter and Blaine Baggett.  The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century

Opening of the War:

Max Hastings.  Catastrophe 1914:  Europe Goes to War. 

Holger H. Herwig.  The Marne, 1914 : the opening of World War I and the battle that changed the world.

Barbara Tuchman.  Guns of August.     

Anne Perry

By Stephen

Besides history, some of my favorite reading materials are mysteries.  I just read the latest Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novel by Anne Perry.  Perry is noted for her mysteries set in Victorian London.  That city in the late nineteenth century was the largest metropolis in world.  The gap between the richest and poorest was vast and, as a result, London had a problem with crime.  Charles Dickens’ books tended to reflect life in the poorer sections of the city, while Anne Perry’s mysteries are mostly set  in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Viewers of “Downton Abbey” and “Upstairs, Downstairs” will find themselves in familiar territory in the world of the Pitts.  Thomas and Charlotte meet in the first volume, “The Cater Street  Hangman,”* while he investigates her older sister’s murder.   By the second book in the series Thomas and Charlotte are married and set up housekeeping in their own place.  Perry makes it clear that Charlotte has married beneath her station and can no longer take part in society events.   You  see, Thomas, as  a policeman, is considered on the same level as a tradesman.  When he goes to investigate a crime at an upper class mansion, the servants expect him to go to the tradesman’s entrance, not the front door, which is what Pitt is prone to do.

The Pitts haven’t been married long when Charlotte begins to help her husband with solving crimes.   She is familiar with the mores of British high society and besides her younger sister, Emily, is married to a nobleman.  Charlotte, in the company of  Emily, wearing gowns borrowed from her sibling, attends balls and society events, where she will observe the persons involved Pitt’s cases,  in the company of  Emily, wearing gowns borrowed from her sibling.

One my favorite recurring characters in this series is Emily’s great aunt by marriage Vespasia Cumming-Gould.  Aunt Vespasia is an elderly woman who has aged gracefully and has friends and acquaintances in the upper levels of society and even in the nobility.  These connections, on occasion, help Thomas as he solves murders.

Another character who takes part in Thomas’ detecting is Gracie, the Pitts’ diminutive maid.  Barely a teenager when she comes to work for the Pitts, Charlotte teaches her to read so she can keep up with current events in the paper.  Gracie eventually gets married and leaves service, but she helps pick her successor.

In one of the later books, Pitt is forced out of the Metropolitan Police, where he was Commander of the Bow Street Street Station.  Instead he moves to the Special Branch, an unit that sees to the security of the country as a whole.  Instead of solving murders in the homes of the powerful and wealthy, Pitt has to deal  with anarchists who want to disrupt British society.   In this job, he often has to be away from home for extended periods; one time, for example, he find himself in France, while Charlotte is helping a friend in Ireland.   However, when a friend of the Prince of Wales is murdered in Buckingham Palace, Pitt is summoned to solve the crime.  Later, when the head of the Special Branch resigns, Pitt is appointed in his place.

In the background of these novels looms the continent of Africa.  Britain was competing with other European nations for control the “Dark Continent.”   Cecil Rhodes in South Africa was making plans for a Cairo to Cape Town railway.  Leander Starr Jameson was leading a ineffective raid into the Transvaal Republic that led to the Boer War.  In the latest book in the series, “Midnight at Marble Arch,” the trial of Jameson plays a vital part.

In her personal life, Anne Perry (nee Juliet Hulme) has had a close association with murder herself. At age 15, she and a friend were convicted of murdering the friend’s mother in New Zealand.    Being too young for the death penalty, they were detained for five years and released.

Her first novel was published in 1979.  Since then she has published 27 books in the Pitt series (28th is due in 2014), 18 in the William Monk series, 5 books in the World War I series, 12 Christmas novellas, 2 fantasy novels aimed at young adults, and 4 stand alone volumes.

For reader who are interested in the society portrayed in Perry’s books, there are two non-fiction works  that provide background  information.  Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder, describes how crimes were portrayed in the press of the period and how the crime novel industry evolved.   Shooting Victoria, by Paul Thomas Murphy, recounts assassination attempts on the queen, but also gives some insight to nineteenth century English police work.

*If possible, it is better to read these books in order.   See AnnePerry.com.uk for a complete list.