Polemics & Exchanges

Reason and War

I am grateful to George McCartney for his articulate and fascinating review of Copperhead (“Reason’s Enemy,” In the Dark, September).  Unlike most reviewers, he concentrates (at least this time) on the plot, theme, historicity, characters, and atmosphere, instead of the usual pointless ramblings about the previous work and personal history of the director, or technical trivia concerning cinematography, lighting, and camera angles.  He made me insist on seeing the movie and reading the 1894 novel on which it is based.

I understand that half the fun of historical fiction is its application to current issues, people, and ideas.  I especially appreciated McCartney’s comparison with Dickens’ Mrs. Jellyby and her preference for distant, abstract victims over her own children.  “Subsidiarity” is a principle not only of the American federation, but of Church law.  I loved his description of the John Brown-like character in Copperhead.

Unfortunately, McCartney verbosely finishes his review with what has become an increasingly common and, to this devoted reader of Chronicles, depressing tendency among some of your writers toward absolute pacifism.  As a Southerner, I wish that the Yankees had favored it at the time.  But as a devotee of Saint Augustine and...

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