- Ada, Oklahoma


November 25, 2013

Lincoln, Ender's Game and other stuff

Ada —

I just got back from a trip to Jacksonville, Florida. (I didn’t see any Lynyrd Skynyrd historical sites that I know of, sorry, but I did think about it.) I’d been listening to the audiobook version of A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin  for a few weeks and I listened to the book on the way back home to keep me company during a 5-hour layover at DFW.

There are different styles of history. There are those that are centered around events which are very analytical and theory driven, and then there are those that are centered on the people in those events, which — in my opinion — make history much more lively and inviting.  A Team of Rivals is of the latter sort. Having read it — or listened to it all the way through —I now feel I have a better picture of the workings of the country at that time.

There is a portion later in the book in which the author describes Lincoln’s reaction to the Siege of Petersburg. It is estimated that the Union had 42,000 casualties in that battle and the South had 28,000.  While the Union lost more men, Lincoln had the realization that if this went on long enough the South wouldn’t have an army any more while the Union still would.

This is the horrible arithmetic of war.

By the end of the book, with the Fall of Richmond and the assassination of Lincoln (and the failed assassination of Seward), I found myself sitting at DFW with a hanky in my hand blotting tears from my eyes. The author managed to use her craft to make these people from whom I’m separated by history into people I felt I knew.

That is a rare gift.

When I arrived home from my trip, I went to see the movie Ender’s Game with my son-in-law.  It’s a well-made movie with some nice special effects, but don’t go to it for action: it’s a mental movie. You are going to have to pay attention in order to enjoy it.  

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