Spring Cleaning – 2013

Time for my annual “Spring Cleaning” column, in which I address reader issues and answer “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs).

Issue #1:  As it turns out, there are no new reader issues to address, other than to say to those of you who read and like my column, please “like” my column by hitting the “Like” button next to it.  The number of people who are both reading and subscribing to my history lessons has grown dramatically, which thrills me, but to attract further outside interest in the column, including advertising and cross-marketing and linking with other sites, it would be helpful to be able to show these folks that you all enjoy reading my column.  Many thanks!

FAQ #1:  My one FAQ this year is also the same.  Books from the past year that I recommend are:  Fateful Lightning by Allen Guelzo.  This is one of the best books on the Civil War I have ever read.  Lucid and thorough, it breaks new and fascinating ground (for me, anyway) on a number of topics related to both the war itself and Reconstruction.

America’s Great Debate by Fergus Bordewich.  This book is a fascinating look at one of America’s seminal historic events, the Compromise of 1850 — the congressional compromise over slavery and western territory that postponed by 10 years an American civil war (thereby helping ensure the North would win that war).  Bordewich also wonderfully brings to life a colorful cast of characters — Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster and more.

The Last Lion:  Defender of the Realm by William Manchester and Paul Reid.  Manchester died before he could complete the last of his “Last Lion” trilogy on Winston Churchill, but he wisely tapped journalist Paul Reid to finish it for him.  It is a magnificent book on the most important period in Churchill’s life, the war years when he led Great Britain to “its finest hour.”  Reid honors Manchester’s memory.

Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power by Robert Caro. Another volume in Caro’s never-ending pursuit of the real Lyndon Johnson, this book focuses on Johnson’s domestic policies in the early years of his presidency.  Caro makes a convincing case that, for all his faults, Johnson was among the most skillful legislators ever to serve as president.

Bruce’s History Lessons: The Second Five years by me.  I admit, a shameless plug, this collection of the second five years of my newspaper columns can also be found on my website, or by simply Googling my name, Bruce G. Kauffmann.

There, the place looks cleaner!  I’ll be back next spring.