". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mary Gabriel's *Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution *

Another book, this one Mary Gabriel's Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (2011). I've been wanting to read this for quite a while. Marx did some of the best writing that explained and described the issues of the Civil War to a European audience. He was working on Capital during the war. Like Darwin's work (Origin of Species comes out in 1860), Marx's provides a vocabulary used about each other by both the Union and Abolitionists, and the CSA and slaveholders. Some of that is still used by neoconfederates and t-baggers and media figures like Rush & his fellow travelers today -- indeed there's been a huge resurgence of that intentional vileness from the right wing since Obama's first inauguration.

This book begins with pages and pages of a Cast of Characters -- the first entry is Charles Francis Adams -- father of my favorite, Henry Adams, son of John Quincy and grandson of John. It ends with Wagner and Zola.

Followed by pages of a Political Timeline.

Next, a Preface -- in which the author tells us that to the best of her knowledge, none of the researchers who have been writing about and making biographies of Karl Marx for all these years have utilized any of the thousands of letters and other writings by his wife and daughters. Women are so irrelevant to a great man's life, right?

Then comes a Prologue, set in London, 1851.

After that the book proper begins, with Section 1, set in Trier, Germany, 1835. By the 1840's many Germans have immigrated to the U.S. Many of these are out of the intellectual class, fleeing prison, punishment and poverty after the failed Revolutionary era in Europe of the 1840's. They are having a huge effect already on the ideas of labor and wages in the 40's and 50's here. There's an influential community, for instance, in St. Louis, publishing 'radical' newspapers and running printing presses. They are all free soil, and are first line targets by the slaveholder financed armed thugs coming up out of Louisiana into Missouri and into Kansas and Nebraska, determined to turn the territory slave no matter what the settlers there vote or want. Marx knows all about this.

This book was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer and National Book Awards. I've met the author and heard her speak, but I've just now gotten around to her book. There's so many really good and even great works of history being published these days. I wish I had the time to just, well, read.

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