Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Battle Cry of Freedom

I picked up Battle Cry of Freedom because Ta-Nehisi Coates has been talking about it a lot, and because it fits into my conceit that there are a lot of things that I should know more about and that I will enjoy just about any book that is well written. I hated learning about the Civil War back in middle school, but chances seem good that I've evolved since then.

So far in things that I should know more about, or at least be more aware of: the prologue is titled "From the Halls of Montezuma." I recently read somewhere (possibly this book, or this one) that a little discussed precipitor of the ever-so-valient secession of Texas from Mexico was that Mexico had just outlawed slavery, so that's kind of where my mind went...that political happenings in Mexico would be part of a more general international climate that set the scene for the Civil War. Maybe the next section would be on abolitionism in England. The opening lyrics of the Marine's Hymn never meant more to me than "all around the world." It took a while to dawn on me that the reference was actually to the specific event that the song is describing, something that I've never actually thought about in all the times I've listened to it: that American soldiers actually marched through the streets of Mexico City after we invaded their country. Apparently the Mexican-American War was very politically contentious in the United States even while it was being fought. I may have to find a book to read about it next. (This is the problem with making it a goal to find out more about the world...you mostly just end up finding out about more things you really should find out more about).

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