If that someone is a Civil War buff, and especially one interested in the fighting that swirled around Kennesaw Mountain in the summer of 1864, then “George Henry Thomas: As True As Steel” (University Press of Kansas) would surely be of interest.
Thomas commanded the Army of the Cumberland under Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign, and the summer before had earned himself the title of “The Rock of Chickamauga” for his last-ditch stand at Chickamauga. Author Brian Steel Wills, professor of Civil War history at Kennesaw State University, paints a picture of a general beloved by his troops but whose advancement was hampered by his distaste for army politics. As a Virginian who chose to stick with the North during the war, it also took him time to earn Lincoln’s full trust, despite his early successes on the battlefield, Wills writes.
Thomas’s defensive talents were respected by both Grant and Sherman, but his two superiors none the less seemed to share the view that he was overcautious on the attack. Indeed he was nearly fired by Grant for having “the slows” on the eve of his rout of Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood at Nashville in December 1864. Wills also uncovers the eagerness of Union Gen. John Schofield (who also fought at Kennesaw Mountain) to undercut Thomas at every turn.
Thomas has always presented a challenge to biographers due to the fact that he died prematurely at age 53 just five years after the war’s end without writing his memoirs, and because he and his wife had destroyed their personal papers.
Wills, who is also the author of the award-winning “The Confederacy’s Greatest Horseman: Nathan Bedford Forrest,” paints a sympathetic picture of Thomas as a rock-solid battlefield leader who never quite got the recognition he deserved from his superiors. But his latest book — the definitive biography of “The Rock” — should go far toward belatedly rectifying that.
Any book that starts out with a quotation from Abraham Lincoln will automatically get the attention of this reader. And so it is with the new book by Kennesaw State University Sociology professor Dr. Melvyn Fein, “Post Liberalism: The Death of a Dream” (Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J.).
Fein is a fixture both at KSU and on the Monday “More Opinion” page of the Marietta Daily Journal, where he writes a weekly column on politics, education and whatever else strikes his fancy, always with a conservative bent.
The Lincoln quote is a familiar one, about how you may fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. And Fein — unsurprisingly to those familiar with his column — argues that liberalism has adopted that mindset as its credo, making promise after promise through the years but failing to live up to almost all of them. Poverty has not gone away despite LBJ’s “Great Society” and other programs, crime has not diminished, families have actually tended to become weaker rather than stronger, education has stagnated (and worse), and “universal peace” is nowhere in sight, he writes.
“Most of (liberalism’s) adherents still believe it is the wave of the future, but they are clinging to a sinking dream,” Fein writes. “These failures were not accidental. They flow directly from liberal contradictions.”
Liberals are compassionate, he writes, “but they do not demonstrate compassion toward those with whom they disagree. They pride themselves on being nice, but they can be vicious toward their opponents.”
“When liberals are in charge, free speech is something that applies to them, not to their critics. When they are in control, political correctness prevails. Men lose their jobs because women are offended by sexist jokes. Whites are not promoted so that blacks can gain equality. Homosexuals march in favor of gay marriage, while Mormons lose their positions because they donated to the wrong cause.”
Fein finally concludes that “liberals routinely promise to save us, but they cannot. Their dream has helped us arrive at where we are, but it has become an albatross around our collective necks.”
You’ll find plenty more such analysis in “Post Liberalism.”
Merry Christmas, and Happy Reading!
Joe Kirby is Editorial Page Editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and author of “The Bell Bomber Plant” and “The Lockheed Plant.”