Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Christmas Gift List

About this time each year, my family asks me to prepare a list of items that I want for Christmas.  Each year I suggest several desired gifts, and each year the gift givers blatantly ignore my requests.  Not to be dissuaded, I offer my and perhaps your Christmas wish list for 2014.

I like to receive books about the Civil War and I begin my list with new biographies on  Lincoln and Davis.  Harold Holzer's Lincoln and the Power of the Press explores Lincoln's ability to manage and manipulate the media. Initially Lincoln took a hard line with the press when he authorized the military to close New York's Journal of Commerce and World. This effort proved unsatisfactory and Lincoln decided to manipulate the press.  His chief means of responding unfavorable commentaries in the New York Times, Herald and Tribune was to release letters that were supposedly written to the editors of these papers (Henry J. Raymond of the Times, James G. Bennett of the Herald, and Horace Greeley of the Tribune).  Holzer points out that the real audience was the general public.  The author also reveals how Lincoln gave a copy of his remarks at Gettysburg to Joseph I. Gilbert who was covering the event for the Associated Press. This allowed the president's Gettysburg Address to achieve broad circulation and bypass the New York press. Kasey  S. Pipes, who reviewed the book for The Dallas Morning News, described the biography as "magisterially written and meticulously research."  Pipers praise is not surprising for works bearing Holzer literary fingerprints.

The next item on my list is a biography of Jefferson Davis by James M. McPherson. In Embattled Rebel - Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief, McPherson explores Davis' difficult presidency from his selection as president to the bitter end of the war when he was "the last Confederate left standing in 1865."  The author depicts Davis as "a frail dynamo who spent most of his waking hours buried in paperwork, much of it trivial --- a product of his inability to delegate authority --- and refereeing the clashing temperaments of his generals." Dale L. Walker's review says that "Embattled Rebel is the perfect title for this engrossing analysis of the True Believer."

The next addition to my wish list is a Civil War miniature from Sierra Toy Soldier Company. Michael and Myska Hall offer a wide variety of miniatures for collectors.  Among my favorites from their online catalogue are the 114th Pennsylvania Zouaves Color Sergeant, 114th Pennsylvania Zouaves Drumer in Turban,  and General Grant at the Table.  You might some figures that you could add to your own wish list.

Another fine gift this time of year for the Civil War enthusiast is a Mort Künstler calendar.  This year Mr. Künstler offers The Lang 2015 Kunstler Civil War Calendar and The Lang 2015 Legends in Gray Calendar.

This is also the time of year when donations are made in your name to the giver's favorite charitable organization.  If anyone is so inclined to give me such a wonderful present please make it to the Civil War Trust.

Whether I receive something from the above list or a gift of their own choosing, I know that it will be wrapped with love and caring.  And that's the best gift of all.

Early holiday greetings to all.

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