Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book review - Life of General Taylor.

Just finished another book from my Grandfather's library. Life of General Taylor by J. Reese Fry is a 325 page biography of General Zachary Taylor. Having given only brief attention to The War with Mexico and General Taylor's part therein, I was interested in reading this book. Another thing that served to whet my interest was the fact that it was published in October of 1847. Since General Taylor would win the presidential election of 1848 I wonder if this could be considered a campaign biography.

The book was of course positive to General Taylor but it did not come across as fawning. The General's early years are quickly summed up and the book really starts to pick up steam at the beginning of his military career. Incidents are recounted from the Blackhawk war and the Second Seminole conflict in Florida. These take up some space in the book and are interesting foundations laid leading up to General Taylor's rise to national prominence.

The emphasis of the book by far is The War with Mexico. General Taylor was the commanding general of U.S. troops along the border prior to the war and his actions there are carefully laid out. His movements once the war broke out are also detailed. The book covers the siege of Fort Brown, and the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de La Palma, Monterrey, and Buena Vista. The narrative ends shortly after Buena Vista with General Taylor in his camp preparing for the next action.

The book is of particular interest for several reasons. It shows the American view of the war and General Taylor at the time. I found this to be interesting. It also includes reprints of much of General Taylor's reports and correspondence with the War Department. These are valuable primary sources that help explain some of what went on and why. The final reason I found the book interesting was what was not in it. Only very sparing mentions were made of President Polk and General Scott. This seems to confirm the possibility that this book was originally published with the intent to further General Taylor's presidential possibilities.

All in all Life of General Taylor was well-written and an interesting read. It needs to be read for what it is, the biography of a presidential candidate prior to election. Still, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who can find it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Book review - catching up.

Have recently read several small books. Because they are each so short I have decided to combine the reviews here.

The first book was George Sullivan's Baseball's Boneheads, Bad Boys, & Just Plain Crazy Guys. This 62 page book is aimed at the younger set and is illustrated. It is still an interesting read. Mr. Sullivan starts off with a disclaimer that most of the stunts discussed in the book should not be attempted. Sound advice. In the course of the book we see one player jump from a hotel window and another lock himself in a drink cooler. There are also the stories of players doctoring the ball and making wacky or absent-minded plays. Overall a neat little book of fun baseball stories.

Second up is another baseball book. Like Father, Like Son is Sarah Gardiner White's 151 page contribution on Major League Baseball families. She covers mostly famous families like the Alous and Ripkens. The DiMaggio brothers come in for a mention as do the Bretts, Alomars, Griffeys, and several others. The book is written to junior high kids and is a little dated. Not too bad a read all the same.

The last book is The County Sheriff America's Last Hope by Sheriff Richard Mack. Sheriff Mack was one of the sheriffs who successfully challenged parts of the Brady Bill. His subsequent fame lead to him writing several books and this 49 page book/booklet is one of them. The book is fairly well written and flows well. Sheriff Mack contends that the county sheriff is the last hope of a free America and that only if the sheriffs begin to stand up to unconstitutional laws will the country survive. He does an excellent job of rallying the troops to the call. His reasoning behind the call is a little less well done. Aside from the fact that sheriffs are elected by the people Sheriff Mack never explains quite what gives them this power to take on the Federal Government. He also neglects to mention what a sheriff should do when the Federal Government decides not to play along with his defiance. Beside these two weaknesses I found the book to be an interesting read. Sheriff Mack is definitely not shy about what he believes.

Coming soon to a country near you?

Interesting article at the Times Online. Seems to me that this is just a natural extension of the encroachment of government on every area of life but specifically in the area of health care. After all, if the government pays for your health insurance shouldn't it be allowed to engage in health assurance?