". . . 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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The American Slave Coast WSJ Review

The American Slave Coast is reviewed today in the Wall Street Journal, by Fergus Bordewich, whose work we so admire!

His book, America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union (2012), the history of the year that D.C. shut down in the argument over California entering the U.S. as a free or slave state is splendid history -- and also a terrific read.  It's as exciting as a novel, with a vivid cast of characters. I recall equally vividly working my way through America's Great Debate that summer when el V was in Angola and Mbanza-Kongo, babbling happily to him over Skype about this great book.

The review has quibbles, including Bordewich is not entirely convinced there was a system of slave breeding, though, yes, certainly, slave-breeding went on.  He also thinks River of Dark Dreams to be superior to ours.

But he does us the great compliment of saying the book reads easily and quickly, and that our curiosity reveals often unexpected and interesting things.

Woo! Great thing to happen on this storm shut-down day, facing probably, at least two more days of shut-in due to 20" of snow, more or less, covering the entire region, including us.  Oops.  Update just now: the governor's office says that accumulation will quite surpass 20" and hit more likely 30".  This does indeed paralyze the city.

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