Marching Through Whatever

This gathering of essays, studies, reviews, and occasional pieces is united by its subject and fused by the imagination and knowledge of the author.  Clyde Wilson has responded not only to a host of opportunities as a professional historian and scholar but to sundry provocations as a lively contemporary who knows the implications of ideological distortions and of political logrolling.  This Distinguished Professor has not said so explicitly, but I say that current and even emerging and future events have echoed and will echo what his sense of history has said to him, and have justified and will justify his examination of the past and its connections with the present.

Those connections are most striking not so much as deep continuities but as unaccountable absurdities.  The funniest pages in this book, if these may be identified from among the strenuous competition, are those devoted to an episode in 2004 when nine Democratic presidential candidates were scheduled to appear at the Longstreet Theater on the campus of the University of South Carolina, a venue which had previously featured appearances by two presidents of the United States and a pope.  Suddenly, it was discovered that the theater was named after the Rev. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, president of a predecessor institution and others, author of Georgia Scenes (1835), defender of slavery on biblical grounds, and advocate of secession.  The...

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