About Nondisposable Johnny

John Ross blogs from Havana, Florida. He works for a living so please don't take it personally if he doesn't get back to you right away.

WATCH OUT NOW…HISTORY IS ABOUT TO START COMIN’ AT YA’ FAST….

I don’t think I’ve ever tagged anything a must read on here, but this, from Glenn Greenwald,  comes pretty close. Turns out the Security State not only saw Donald Trump as the biggest threat to their hegemony since Jimmy Carter, and thereby resorted to operational tactics from the (long forgotten–by the media and the public at least) 1980 playbook–they even used some of the same people. If you don’t care to read the whole thing, the last paragraph will do.

It’s over folks. It matters not that Carter was a somewhat decent man and Trump a thoroughly indecent one. Nor that Carter was an Evangelical Democrat and Trump a Pagan Republican.

Because life’s just a Warren Zevon song now. Take your pick:

OKAY SO THIS IS NOT GOING THE DIRECTION I THOUGHT….BUT I’M STILL NOT CONVINCED I’M WRONG…

In my post of last week, I noted that the mainstream media had finally gotten on to an idea I’ve had for a year and some conservative bloggers have been bandying about for at least a few months: namely that the FBI had planted someone inside the Trump campaign no later than the Summer of 2016. Though Kim Strassel first broached the subject in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times has now taken the lead and tossed up the name of Stefan Halper, an American academic based in London.

That’s not who I had in mind as a “plant” though, based on interviews she’s given this week, it’s evidently who Strassel (and others) had in mind.

I’m sure they’re not wrong about Halper’s role–he’ll have one hell of a lawsuit if they are–but his role is not that of either a spy or an informant. He seems to be a cutout–someone not in the Trump campaign who the FBI and/or CIA could rely on to brace those who were.

Those who were included (but may not be limited to) Carter Page and George Papadopolous, two men who have been in the news quite a lot.

The lengths to which the media (across the board) and the usually more insightful online bloggers have gone to insist none of these were actual “informants” (including the Times, which specifically misused the term to make it seem like Halper is such when their own reporting insists he’s only a handler–someone who, at most, might gather information from an informant) is curious.

It’s been known for months that Carter Page was not only a known FBI asset, but was specifically helping them in a case that involved a Russian while he was “Volunteering” to be part of the Trump Campaign.

It is likely, however, that Page, who was part of Trump’s campaign, was not an “informant” either.

An informant would be someone who was inserted into the campaign for the purpose of uncovering evidence of illegal (or at least unethical) behavior, and reporting back to a prearranged handler.

From the reporting so far available, Halper was not that sort of handler.

He was the sort who arranged to have meetings with low level Trump operatives for the specific purpose of making them appear dirty because why else would they be meeting with the likes of him, a known go-between for both the FBI and the CIA?

If you’re having a little trouble following along, you’re not alone.

In all the sound and fury that’s been building for a year while Team Mueller and Team Trump stalked each other, I still haven’t seen one person suggest the obvious–that Carter Page was placed in the Trump campaign (by the FBI, though possibly at the CIA’s suggestion) not to be a classic informant, but to follow orders and meet with enough sketchy characters (Mr. Halper included) that the FBI could use his presence to get a FISA warrant on somebody–if necessary, him.

Since Page was in fact who they got the warrant on (in October, 2016, after failing to produce enough evidence even for a Star Chamber filled with their own hand-picked judges in June), the only other possibility is that the FBI went looking for someone–anyone–they could produce on the spot as a surveillance subject that would satisfy the court they were on to something…and just happened to find one of their own assets conveniently positioned right where they needed him to be!

Even I don’t think the FBI is so incompetent they’d leave something like that to chance.

Either way, it’s a good thing Donald Trump’s not Hitler.

Because if this clown car was all that was standing between us and the next Hitler, we’d all be better off shooting ourselves in the head while guns are still legal.

As it is, whether anyone goes to jail in the next year-and-a-half will depend on what it always depends on.

But you’re my readers, and a great deal smarter than the average bear–so you already knew that….

OH, THAT’S WHAT SHE MEANT….(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #135)

I have a transgender godchild. Found herself in Portland during the 2016 election. Moved away to a small town, elsewhere in the Pacific northwest.

I asked her mother why–I’d been under the impression godchild loved Portland.

Turned out godchild–raised libertarian and having once had the not-so-unique experience of having Bill Clinton lie to her face (when she was nine and a “he”) in the White House and on TV no less (the lie was sufficiently bald-faced even Diane Sawyer, a lifetime contender for Queen Bootlicker, was taken aback)–had gotten tired of fearing for her safety lest anyone in her particular Zone of Tolerance discover she was a Trump supporter.

Keeping her opinions to herself in public and all her social media accounts under the layers of assumed identies only tech whizzes like her can manage  didn’t make her feel secure enough.

I allowed as she might have had an exaggerated sense of the danger.

Then again, perhaps not.

We’re supposed to believe that the line between “mock” violence and actual atrocities is one all right-minded people recognize and are never tempted to cross. Heck, they’d never really do that to an actual human, would they? Get a sense of humor will ya’.

All you need to do to buy that is forget all of human history and all of human nature.

We’re workin’ on it….Like a blind man who’s lost his way…

POLITICS ON THE RADIO….OLDIES RADIO…UNLESS OF COURSE IT WAS ONLY IN MY MIND (Segue of the Day: 5/16/18)

There are no true oldies stations in my market anymore. The last one changed formats more than a decade ago. What’s left is the Hank format and a Classic Rock Formula which has been reshaped from hard-rock-all-the-time (white except for Jimi Hendrix) to a mix of hard rock (white….except for Jimi Hendrix), hard pop rock (all white), a little easy listening (ditto), plus, for the sake of diversity, “Superstition” and “Low Rider.”

It’s not exactly a true re-creation of how hit-oriented radio worked in the sixties and seventies, but it is an accurate reflection of these focus-grouped times.

Usually, I just listen to the gasbags on talk radio who at least keep me up with the news. (And represent the last, best hope Never Trumpers have of taking their nemesis down, even if they don’t know it and would never admit it if they did. Believe me, when you’re in the Byzantine spot Robert Mueller’s in, a place where so many corrupt riddles are wrapped inside so many diseased enigmas your own best hope of staying out of jail is the pubic’s inability to keep up, you couldn’t hope for better than to have Sean Hannity and Mark Levin representing the other side).

But, now and again, when the gasbags either overwhelm me or go to commercial once too often, I still pull up the Classic Hits station in my car.

I had missed a promo-promised Go-Go’s/Queen segue earlier in the day, but now I hit the button just as this one started…and, once it starts, I never change the station…

Strange thing, though. This time, all I could think about while the song was playing (and I was shouting every word–have I ever mentioned that I harmonize with Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham like a long lost sibling who shared a mother with one and a father with the other?…Or that I can’t be the first person to have considered the possibility that everyone can do this?)–was how, when the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign adopted “Don’t Stop” as the theme song and wanted Fleetwood Mac to re-unite and play it for some big occasion (the Convention? Election Night? the Inaugural?…the memory hazes, but, for my purposes here, it only matters that they said yes), Buckingham at first refused.

He gave in only when Stevie Nicks called him up and said If you take this away from me, I’ll never speak to you again.)

Whatever harm he may have done to her elsewhere (I wrote about some of it here), on that occasion Lindsey was right.

Never trust a politician.

He might have shown great taste picking your song, but there’s always a chance he’ll end up sustaining and encouraging a status quo (you know,might even be granted permission by his own voters to complete the Reagan Revolution, which they had professed to despise only a moment before, when Stevie and every other good liberal was proving how serious they were by saying things like “I’ll never speak to you again!”–remember?) that will lock up black people at rates old Jim Crow (whose natural born child he was) never dreamed of and make everybody who fought for him twist themselves into pretzels telling themselves how it was alright because he did it, never mind it would have been worse than slavery if the other side merely settled for talking about doing the same.

Don’t mind me. I get peculiar thoughts some times.

Because while all that was running through my head (without my thrush-like throat fluffing a note) I also started wondering if Oo-o-o-hh, don’t you look back might be a sentiment tantamount to civilizational suicide. Didn’t somebody say something once about those who don’t learn from the past being doomed to, etc., etc., etc.?

And wouldn’t not learning from the past you never look back to just about define Bill Clinton’s life and legacy? (Be sure you read Thomas Frank’s blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut article at the link, especially if you’ve forgotten, or never admitted, how much damage Clinton did to liberalism, damage that is likely to remain irreparable…..And, like I said, don’t mind me.)

Boy was I depressed.

Not even remembering how the ghost version of “Don’t Stop” had long since forced me to ponder whether Christine McVie having just possibly conceived the song as pure irony should be one of my heart-of-the-universe questions–how, with the slightest shift of timbre, she transformed don’t look back from the proverbial fear that something might be gaining on you to an anthem worthy of an American presidential campaign, where never a discouraging word must be heard–allowed me to shake the feeling the whole world has been had all over again every time this song plays on the radio and one of us sings along in perfect harmony without missing a note or a nuance.

Then the radio went straight into this…

…which was so much about nothing (a Curfew Riot–which sounds like the title of a Monty Python skit) it ended up being about everything. Including now.

Paranoia strikes deep….

And even though it had been too long since I heard it (and though nothing could ever match the impact of singing it, in perfect harmony–with five kids who weren’t conversant with English, or even born, when it was released–under the eaves of the library at Kent State in 1998) for me to get every note, or even every word, right, I thought…well this radio still speaks in mysterious ways some times, its wonders to perform.

After that, Tom Petty reminding me I don’t have the live like a refugee, usually the highlight of any paranoiac’s day, felt as comfortable as an old shoe.

Then “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” came on and I remembered how talk radio came to be an option in the first place.

Because the Empire planned it that way….That’s how.

Now go back to bed and leave me alone you damned ol’ Politics.

TALL, COOL ONE (Tom Wolfe, R.I.P.)

Tom Wolfe, co-creator of the “new” journalism, and one of its ablest practitioners, was, more than any other of his breed, even Hunter Thompson, bound up in Rock and Roll America. He was first on the ground to Phil Spector, the Merry Pranksters (who rolled over every other square who tried to act like one of their own and accepted Wolfe and his white suits and southern gentility because he never pretended to be anyone but himself), the Black Panthers in their Limousine Liberal phase.

Later on he wrote about the Space Race and social dissolution in the Frozen Silence. How well, I couldn’t say, though if Frozen Silences should, by chance, deserve chronicling, I’m sure he was as well-suited to the task as anyone.

But when he made his real mark, it was mostly about speed, speed, speed. Verbal speed, the speed of sound, the need for speed (all kinds–wind speed, asphalt speed, pharmaceutical speed).

And at the back of the speed it was all about cars.

Cars, cars and more cars.

The cars that forced him to notice them….and make himself a reputation.

Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby Speed.

I have it on good authority that the butler who attended his last word heard a single syllable as the snow-globe fell from his dying hand and shattered on the hardwood floor.

Cars….

Well, then, I guess he should just ride on out of here.

I HAD A DREAM…I HAD AN AWESOME DREAM (Late Night Dedication)

The Security State rats–every last one of them–were trembling in their ratholes, ears to the walls, trying to pretend that wasn’t the crack of doom on some distant radio….

…and then Laura Nyro’s high range set the place on fire and shattered all the glass in the windows and they were forced to break for cover and, as they scurried for the door with their tails smoking and their rat hair singeing, the radio switched songs…

I have funny dreams some times. Often, I don’t even need to fall asleep.

I can only imagine what might happen if I took drugs.

Somehow I’ve never believed those who told me I’d have even more fun.

I mean, I’ll let you in my dream and you don’t even have to let me in yours!

POST-GOLDEN AGE WESTERNS….A HANDY TEN

The “Golden Age” of the Hollywood western is generally conceded to have stretched from 1946 to 1962. It’s bounded by the respective releases of John Ford’s My Darling Clementine in the former year* and Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country in the latter.

Based on the films each man released in ’62, the hand-off from Ford to Peckinpah should have been a natural one. What happened instead was what we like to call The Sixties.

All that’s beyond the scope of what I’m after here, which is simply to suggest some films for viewing that, taken together, make up an impressive legacy of their own. Call them markers on a trail to what might have been…

The Shooting (1966)
D. Monte Hellman

Harrowing. This film is as unsettling as In a Lonely Place…perhaps more so, because it doesn’t have Humphrey Bogart’s, or even Gloria Grahame’s, level of star power to supply a set of foundational assumptions. With this and Ride in the Whirlwind, Hellman invented what came to be called Acid Westerns. That’s a ridiculous moniker (did anyone think to call Lonely Place Acid Noir? As though it’s destabilizing qualities were merely hallucinatory? Thought not.) When Warren Oates is the stable one, you’re in another land alright. But it’s one that could only be reached through the gateway of the western–not a pill. Next to this, the best spaghetti westerns and The Wild Bunch look silly and ham-handed. Not to mention light-hearted.

Hombre (1966)
D. Martin Ritt

Strong by any standard. One of Newman’s signature “H” movies (The Hustler, Hud, Harper) and perhaps the best. Not least because his character has no redeeming quality except that he’s right. This is Stagecoach turned into a nightmare. One where the characters never quite wake up. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Martin Ritt (who made an awful lot of good movies for a guy who doesn’t get talked about much) watched a lot of Boetticher-Scott westerns somewhere along the way. Or maybe Elmore Leonard (who wrote the source material for this and Boetticher’s The Tall T–as here, Richard Boone played the villain) just brought certain qualities out of people.

True Grit (1969)
D. Henry Hathaway

Don’t sleep on this one just because John Wayne’s Oscar winning performance is larger than life even by his standards or because there’s been a fine remake. Kim Darby is still the definitive Mattie Ross. George MacDonald Fraser’s assertion that the line readings throughout are the closest we’ll ever have to hearing Victorian western speech as it was actually spoken makes it plain this is a window into a lost world. Charles Portis’ source novel provided dozens of memorable lines…and Marguerite Roberts’ script added a few more, without missing a beat. I still wish they had kept Portis’ ending, but everything else is in place. For Wayne and Darby and a host of fine characterizations (Strother Martin and Robert Duval are especially memorable) it will always be worth revisiting.

Bad Company (1972)
D. Robert Benton

One of the best roles Jeff Bridges ever had while he quietly went about being the best actor of his generation. Here, he and an equally effective Barry Brown are green as grass Civil War draft-dodgers heading west….and finding out maybe marching off the war wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all. Bridges’ brand of American innocence is even funnier–and warmer–in a western setting. It’s a shame he didn’t come along twenty years earlier, when he might have made a dozen of these.

Ulzana’s Raid (1972)
D. Robert Aldrich

Aldrich and star Burt Lancaster had been players in the Golden Age and even made a couple of fine westerns together (Apache and the wonderful Vera Cruz, with Gary Cooper). This gave them an opportunity to raise their game and they were more than up to the task. Lancaster was never better than as a grizzled scout trying to help a green lieutenant (a superbly callow, but learning fast, Bruce Davison), track down a renegade Apache band and perhaps even live to tell the tale. This might be seen as re-revisionist western–a kind of answer film to Arthur Penn’s misguided Little Big Man, which had perverted Thomas Berger’s great novel from comedy into parody, and presented the warrior cultures of the Plains Indians (in that case the Cheyenne, who held the U.S. Cavalry at bay for forty years) as peace loving flower children. No one, at least, will emerge from watching Ulzana’s Raid for the first or twentieth time under any misapprehension that Apaches would have been at home in the Age of Aquarius….or welcomed hippies into their own age.

The Shootist (1976)
D. Don Siegel

A setup to be sure. John Wayne, cancer victim and last of the Golden Age cowboys, playing John Bernard Books, cancer victim and last of the Old West gunfighters. But, with the great Don Siegel (like Martin Ritt, an underappreciated pro’s pro) at the helm, an impeccable cast (Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart, Richard Boone–one could go on) and a lean, well-measured script, it defies expectations and transcends its own nostalgia. It self-consciously echoes a hundred westerns, none more than Shane. Except this time, the gunfighter does not ride out of the valley. And it isn’t clear what he has done for Civilization–except represent the best of what it inevitably washes away.

The Quick and the Dead (1987)
D. Robert Day

In the eighties, the western was represented most ably on television, with adaptations of Louis L’Amour (usually starring either Sam Eiliott or Tom Selleck) leading the way. This and the Selleck vehicle, Crossfire Trail, are my own favorites and can stand for the lot–fine westerns that might not have stood out in the Golden Age, but certainly would have held their own. Elliott and Selleck, both excellent, are a wash and Crossfire Trail gave Wilfred Brimley the role of a lifetime. Still, I’m giving this one the edge because it has a slightly more expansive story and a fine performance by the always under-utilized Kate Capshaw, as an eastern woman adapting to the mindset of the frontier more rapidly  than her husband (an equally good Tom Conti), in part because she grasps how vulnerable any woman (let alone one as fetching as Kate Capshaw) is in a land where the law is what you make it.

Lonesome Dove (Miniseries) (1989)
D. Simon Wincer

Speaking of television….This epic mini-series blew the doors open when it first aired. There was serious talk of the western being revived in a way that hasn’t really occurred since. And it’s all that. None of the fine cast were ever better, and, though the story is an old one (it’s about a cattle drive after all), the mini-series length gave Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval, among others, a scope rarely afforded elsewhere. They took full advantage. The effect on Duval’s career was unfortunate. He’s satisfied himself with playing old coots ever since, with markedly diminishing returns. Jones didn’t get his mojo back until he learned to laugh at himself in the Men in Black series. But that doesn’t diminish what they did here, in the company of the strongest female cast to appear in any western (again, the length matters)–Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Glenne Headly, all superb. The other volumes in the Lonesome Dove series are good, especially Streets of Laredo, with James Garner and Sissy Spacek taking over the Jones and Lane roles (and being everything you would expect from those two). I also recommend Larry McMurtry’s source books. But the space opened up here has never been filled by anything else, making it, in its own way, as epic as anything done by the old masters.

Appaloosa (2008)
D. Ed Harris

An entertaining, if troubling, update on the town-taming ethos. The set up is similar to Warlock, Edward Dmytryk’s entertaining, if troubling, take on the town-taming ethos from 1959. I like Appaloosa better. The story is tighter, the grim psychology more relentless and logical. And there’s a rare good middle-age role for Renee Zellweger. Those who worry about the western (or any action) genre bleeding into fascism will not be comforted, but not being comforted is a symptom of the concerned citizen and you could spend your life worrying about subjects a lot less worthy of your time and attention. And I’m normally not big on actors directing, but Ed Harris does a lovely, understated job here. No fancy camera tricks, just straight, non-nonsense storytelling that lets the good actors (including himself) do their thing.

True Grit (2010)
D. Joel and Ethan Coen

It feels a little odd to include both versions of True Grit on such a small list. Thee are other worthy candidates even if I did leave off spaghetti westerns (God help me, I do like Sergio Leone), Peckinpah (I like several of his later westerns, including, until the end, The Wild Bunch–that’s the part that excites a lot of people but seems to me senseless bluster), or spoofs (highly recommend the Kennedy/Garner Support duo and Waterhole #3).

But I can’t choose between them and I certainly can’t leave them both off. This has the advantage of great atmosphere and sticks reasonably close to Portis’ story and language. Jeff Bridges proves again that a lot was lost when he didn’t get to make more westerns. Matt Damon acquits himself well. Hailee Steinfeld makes for a compelling contrast to Kim Darby’s Mattie Ross and gives the role her own stamp–maybe proving that, like Rooster Cogburn, Mattie’s just a great character, open to a wide array of interpretations. And the Coens more or less restored the book’s ending, pulling the punch only slightly by not having the older Mattie recite the entire last paragraph of the novel, which gets my vote for the finest ending of any American novel. It was a hit and, once more, there was talk of reviving the western. There always will be such talk–the western is in our DNA. But if we have to live with what we have, it’s still a lifetime investment getting to know the best of it. If you want to take that journey, everything here is worth adding to your list.

**NOTE: Howard Hawks’ Red River was shot in 1946 but not released until 1948. According to one of the film’s stars, Joanne Dru, the main reason was trouble in the editing room, resolved when Hawks sought Ford’s advice (Ford did not, so far as I know, do any actual editing but made some key suggestions). Hawks later admitted to Peter Bogdanovich that Ford was always in his head anyway. I mention it only to illustrate that Ford was always in everybody’s head. Regarding anyone who’s up to any good, he still is, even if they’ve never heard of him.

 

BEFORE I GET LEFT BEHIND….

The thirty-five months that have passed since Donald Trump announced he was running for president have made me almost regret I didn’t start a political blog on the spot. I say “almost” because it would have meant giving up this blog and any chance of writing or publishing fiction, plus attracting a bunch of abuse from “partisans” and other weirdos (probably from both ends–I’m that kind of guy when it comes to Politics).

Still, once in a while I find myself wondering why neither the media nor the host of political blogs/twitter feeds I follow on a regular basis have managed to notice something.

To that end, it was interesting to come across a story today (from Kim Strassel in the Wall Street Journal–sorry it wasn’t behind a pay wall but now it is, so I’m not linking) that was the first to suggest something I’ve assumed was obvious for at least a year: That the FBI planted someone inside the Trump campaign in 2016.

I even have a pretty good idea of who that someone has to be–I’m not saying the name, though, because I don’t want to impugn the integrity of anyone on the basis of a gut feeling when there’s even a slim chance they might be innocent. Let’s just say that, if his name comes up again, I’ll refer back to this moment. And, if I’m wrong and it’s someone else, I’ll happily admit I’m wrong.

I assume that some reporters (including Strassel) can put two and two together as well as I can, though, and are holding back on publishing the obvious name for the same reason I am (well that and libel laws).

I just hope they aren’t holding back on actual reporting.

Because I’d really hate to think the only reason the new era’s muckrakers aren’t eager to track down the FBI’s mole in the Trump campaign (or White House?) is because, in an age when every major “news” organization must at least be suspected of being an intelligence asset, they’re not too sure who their editor works for (and that would certainly not exclude the WSJ, as fiercely anti-Trump as any other news organization, right up until the moment they figured out he had a chance to win).

I mean, that’d be depressing….

ALL IS FORGIVEN….

Anyone who has been around here for a while knows I go back and forth on Greil Marcus. I don’t always agree with anybody, but I’ve mostly called him out when I thought he stepped on his own tongue. And I’ve called him out more than anyone else because I always find him interesting even when my disagreement is vehement.

From his website’s mailbag of 5/8/18, though, (and in response to a question about early seventies’ soul groups no less) there’s this:

I don’t think any Hall of Fame argument has merit when Joan Jett, who is a small-time but effectively self-promoting mediocrity, is in and the Shangri-Las are not.  It’s a matter of how you judge it. Kiss and Joan Jett, not to mention Patti Smith, are in the HoF because of their overwhelming influence on other people. I consider that a false standard. I think people ought to be judged on their own work, and that to consider uninteresting and self-promoting people important because of their influence on people who are even less interesting than than they are is absurd. Patti Smith is genuinely a hero to countless people for many good reasons. I once was one of her opening acts, was essentially kicked off the stage because I was taking up too much time (what I had been asked to do), was as angry as I could be, and then she came on, and after a few minutes I was humbled that I had actually been on the same stage as she was. Did she define what rock ‘n’ roll is and what it could be, and even what it should be? Maybe. Perhaps definitely. But you can’t even begin to raise that question about the Shangri-Las—they did what all of the people I’ve mentioned did, did it with more depth, and it’s almost irrelevant that they did it first.

That’s much further than anyone of Marcus’ stature has ever gone on behalf of the Shangri-Las, regarding the Hall of Fame or anything else.

Seeing the Shangri-Las in the Hall is one of about four things that have to happen before I can die happy.

But I don’t need that to say this: Believe me, all is forgiven…until next time!

 

THE TURNING POINT (Monthly Book Report: 4/18)

High Tide at Gettysburg: The Campaign in Pennsylvania (1958)
Glenn Tucker

The only book i finished in April was Glenn Tucker’s High Tide at Gettysburg, which I quoted from a couple of times along the way.

I could have quoted a lot more. Tucker’s history of the most important battle in American history yielded insights on nearly every page, even to a long time student of both the battle and the Civil War. The author was Indiana born and raised, spent his career as a Yankee journalist, and retired to North Carolina in the late forties to concentrate on writing history.

I mention his biography because this particular book could be accused of having a pro-Southern bias, especially in our current climate. Tucker is as prone to romanticizing southern gallantry and courage on the battlefield as some actual southerners have been. Here as elsewhere, it’s more a matter of tilting perspectives a bit, as opposed to cheering for one side over the other.

That said, it wasn’t enough to impede my enjoyment of Tucker’s account. If you want a concise, well-written, relatively brief but comprehensive, account of a subject everyone should know at least a little about, you could hardly do better.

As an example of Tucker’s grasp of the blend of events, gossip and coverage that go into making History what it is–including his own–here’s his take on a little known aspect of the Third Day at Gettysburg (and why it is little known):

Members of Davis’ brigade, this company was part of he regiment that pursued Cutler’s men north of the railroad cutting on the first day of the battle. The point of farthest advance was established–at least to the content of the North Carolinians, and the apparent satisfaction of the Gettysburg battlefield authorities of that day–when Lieutenant T.D. Falls, of Fallstown, Cleveland County, North Carolina, and Sergeant Augustus Whitley, of Everitts, in Martin County, visited the terrain, made affidavits about the point they had reached, and had it marked by the Gettysburg Commission. This testimony, according to Adjutant Charles M. Cooke, of the 55th, had other corroboration.

Taken with the advance of Lane and D.H. Hill in the pre-Manassas affair on the Peninsula, and the fact that Cox’s brigade fired the final round of the Army of Northern Virginia, this bold feat of the 55th Regiment went to establish North Carolina’s most cherished tradition of its part in the Confederate War: “First at Bethel, farthest at Gettysburg and last at Appomattox.”

Unhappily for the North Carolinians, the principal press accounts of the battle were from the Richmond correspondents. In one of the first conspicuous dispatches to the Enquirer, Pettigrew’s (North Carolina) command, containing some of the staunchest veteran regiments of the army, was termed “raw troops” and Pickett’s defeat was attributed to Pettigrew’s “faltering.” North Carolina has not yet recovered.

Against that gimlet-eyed view of the means and motives of nineteenth century Fake News, here is Tucker’s account of one of the battle’s most poignant anecdotes:

When the results were reviewed, it was recognized that Culp’s Hill had been the scene of some of the most determined, sanguinary fighting of the war. Geary always thought that the main battle of Gettysburg was won by Meade’s army on Culp’s Hill. (called by the Confederates “The Hill of Death.”)

Kane’s brigade found 500 dead Confederates in its front. Somewhere among them was a squat little man, Wesley Culp, a private in Company B, 2nd Virginia, of the Stonewall Brigade. He was twenty-four and because he was only five feet tall, Colonel Douglas had had a special gun made for him. Where he fell he could look at the house where he was born. Like Henry Wentz, he had gone to Virginia to sell Gettysburg carriages and Southern eyes made him stay.

No one who appreciates those two descriptions of lost causes–the public cause of a battle unit’s reputation and the private cause of a young man killed fighting with an enemy army to capture his father’s land at what was, literally, the Confederacy’s high tide–would be remiss in adding this little volume to any list of a completist’s interest in this, or any, “high tide.”

Same for anyone who knows nothing and is looking for a place to begin learning.