Book review: Empire of the Summer Moon

EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON : Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history, by S. C. Gwynne, New York: Scribner, ©2010. ISBN 978–1416591061 As a student of American Indian history (in the Southeast), I have been asked more than once whether I’ve read this popular […]

The Injuns are coming (again)

Attention Conservation Notice: This post is about Alabama politics and the use of American Indian imagery to score political points. Spotted this billboard the other day in East Lake, Birmingham. The three men on the right are Alabama Governor Bob Riley, John Tyson (current head of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling) and David […]

Pap Finn in the 21st century

Whenever his liquor begun to work he most always went for the govment. — Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain’s character “Pap” Finn, the father of Huckleberry Finn, is an angry man. He’s angry at his son for giving him “sass” and disobeying him. He’s angry at the whole town for looking down on him, instead of […]

The star of empire

I’ve found some evidence of how the Anglo-Irish cleric George Berkeley’s verse, “Westward the course of empire takes its way,” became a “star of empire” on the cover of George Bancroft’s History of the United States. The connecting link seems to be John Quincy Adams, with an assist from Massachusetts poet Sarah Wentworth Morton. George […]

Injun trouble in Alabama

Gambling proprietors in Alabama have been trying to pass off their slot machines (prohibited under state law) as a form of bingo (legal in some counties). Gov. Bob Riley is trying to stop them with a special task force and mostly successful lawsuits. Warnings of impending raids have recently forced the shutdown of several giant […]

Post-racial America? First do this

Obama’s election set off a predictable round of inconclusive wondering about whether, or when, we’d become a “post-racial America.” Well, I have a benchmark to propose. Maybe it’s more like a precondition, but to me it’s a large and obvious one. The United States of America will not overcome its obsession with race until Benjamin […]