Sunday, December 6, 2015

Featured Book: Blue as Blue Can Be by Robert Kendall

This book recounts the experiences of Alpheus Fairbanks, a Civil War soldier as seen from his letters home. 

He offers an inside view of the conflicting attitudes of the two sides during his service, mostly in Kentucky. Do it my way vs We're in it together--Two divergent cultural attitudes characterized the two sides in this civil war. 

In the south everyone wanted to do things his own way. Theirs was an 'every man for himself 'culture. The north saw themselves as a unified whole in spite of differences 'a 'we're in it together" culture. The behavior of officers and men on both sides betray these differences. 

The differences are behind incidents Fairbanks relates, from building defenses for Cincinnati, repairing railroad bridges, chasing small parties of raiders from Tennessee near Lexington, rebuilding a bridge on the Tennessee River south of Knoxville, getting shot at during an engagement near Somerset, KY, encountering two women "night walkers" [prostitutes] who had $300 in good money, and his being captured in a battle at Philadelphia, TN. 

Imprisoned at first in Richmond, VA's Belle Isle prison, transferred to Andersonville; early prisoners there faced Confederate cannons where the stockades were unfinished. With little food, mostly cornhusks, on April 25, 1864 he was the 176th prisoner to die at Andersonville. He was 31.

About the author:

Robert Kendall was born on a farm in Kansas and escaped the Great Depression and Dust Bowl to the Yakima Valley of Washington State. He grew up in Hermiston, Oregon, where he delivered the Walla Walla Union Bulletin and worked as a drug store soda jerk, as a school janitor helper; and as an assembler of furniture. On Butter Creek Ranch, he worked as a ranch-hand bailing and stacking hay. He graduated from College in Eugene, Oregon, while working evenings on a log pond at a sawmill. Kendall earned a PhD from Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a Journalism Professor at the University of Florida for more than 20 years, where he taught Journalism, Mass Communications, and Public Relations courses. He is the author of two editions of a textbook, Public Relations Campaign Strategies. After retiring, he has pursued his long-term interest in history, particularly the Civil War.

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