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 […]

How Opa-locka got its name

Opa-locka is a small city in the Miami metropolitan area of south Florida. Its unusal name is supposed to have an Indian or “Native American” origin. But there is no documentation for the name before about 1926. That’s when the aviator Glenn Curtiss founded the city, during the 1920s craze for Florida real estate.1 When […]

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 […]

Yearning for the next civil war

He was stuck with the duty and he would fight. And he had no doubt he would die and that would be a good thing. He looked around the battlefield that had been his home, and carefully raised himself out of the recliner. It wouldn’t do to fall and break a hip now. Company was […]

Iraq and the American Revolution

Now British forces are ending combat operations in Iraq. I always thought it was remarkable to see U.S. troops in Iraq serving alongside British units, some of whose service histories must go back to the struggle against American revolutionaries in the 1770s and 1780s. The two armies have fought together several times since 1917, of […]

A brief history of waterboarding

“Waterboarding” is the latest name for a form of water torture going back to the Middle Ages in Europe, but condemned as illegal and immoral since the 1700s. Banned from Europe, water torture persisted in other parts of the world, including some European colonies, until the mid-20th century. In the United States, water torture first […]