Showing posts from July, 2010

Reading Journal: "The War That Made America"

Fred Anderson, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.
This year is the 250th anniversary of the end of the French and Indian War, the war that left Great Britain in control of Canada and brought to a close the conflict between Britain and France over disputed territory west of the Allegheny Mountains.  1759 was the annus mirabilis for Britain, the year in which British forces defeated the French in engagement after engagement over several continents, and took control of Qu├ębec in the decisive battle on the Plains of Abraham.  In Britain and her American colonies, that battle made a national hero of General James Wolfe, who fell on the Plains of Abraham as his troops were surging to victory.  The war also gave Britain's American colonists a keener sense of their own rights as British subjects, and set the stage for American independence.  
The French and Indian War began in 1754, when a 22-year old Virginian militia officer le…


The flowers are a little past their peak, and have begun to produce miniature pea pods, but the drifts of purple and white flowers in the Upper Arb are still beautiful on a sunny Sunday morning.

Salmon with Chu Chee Curry Sauce

In a medium saucepan, gently heat 1/4 of a 14 oz. can light coconut milk, whisking in 2 teaspoons each Thai red curry paste and Thai chili paste until dissolved. Add the rest of the can of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 teaspoons palm (or brown) sugar.  Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.  Serve over grilled salmon, with rice, and garnished with Thai basil leaves and a slice of lime.This is a slightly reduced fat version of Fried Salmon with Chu Chee Curry Sauce from Khamtane Signavong's Lemongrass and Sweet Basil: Traditional Thai Cooking (Interlink Books 2005), substituting grilled salmon for salmon fried in oil, and light coconut milk for coconut cream and coconut milk.

Reading Journal: "The Curate's Wife"

E.H. Young, The Curate's Wife. Virago Modern Classics 1984. Originally published in Great Britain in 1934.
A cursory examination of my bookshelves reveals several novels, all written by women, with titles like The Curate's Wife, The Rector's Daughter, Her Son's Wife and The Optimist's Daughter—in other words, novels whose titles are taken, not from a woman's name, but from a woman's relationship, as wife or daughter, to a man.  
Jane Austen's novels—inevitably, we come back to Jane Austen—are essentially Regency coming-of-age stories.  They're about how Catherine Morland or Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse grow up, find themselves, and find romance into the bargain.  The novels end with a marriage—but don't go any further to imagine how that marriage is sustained over the years that follow.  
In so many of the great Victorian novels, the marriage plot is given an extra twist, and becomes a remarriage plot.  An unsuitable first marriage—David Cop…

Blogging on Blog Divided

Today I published my first blog post for Blog Divided, a community blog that focuses on the history of the period from 1840 to 1880—the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. The primary purpose of the blog, and of the House Divided Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, is to provide resources for classroom teachers to explore this period in American history.  I've been asked to provide blog posts on the Greek and Roman classics in the education and culture of the period.  
Here's my first post.  From now on, my posts will be aggregated over in the right sidebar.





Civil War Naval Cannon in Waconia, Minnesota

This naval cannon, located in City Square Park, was cast at the famous Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia in 1846.

History Trivia Quiz #1

Name five Civil War generals who served, either before or after the war, as college presidents. Also give the names of the colleges. (Answers in the comments.)

Mapping the Civil War

Last night I finally came to the end of a long and hard-fought campaign. I finished reading The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. I might not have fought through to the end had it not been for the reinforcement of a good atlas. Much of the book is a description of the movement and positioning of troops, and of the territory over which they passed. Like Grant's army, I started to get bogged down in the bayous around Vicksburg. Here's a representative passage:
Lieutenant-Colonel [James H.] Wilson of my staff was sent to Helena, Arkansas, to examine and open a way through to Moon Lake and the Yazoo Pass if possible. Formerly there was a route by way of an inlet from the Mississippi River to Moon Lake, a mile east of the river, thence east through Yazoo Pass to Coldwater, along the latter to Tallahatchie, which joins the Yallabusha about two hundred and fifty miles below Moon Lake and forms the Yazoo River.This is much easier to follow on a good map, such as the map that Lie…

MCA Results: What Do They Mean?

Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Education released the results of the spring 2010 MCA tests (MInnesota Comprehensive Assessment). The MDE's official press release begins with the teaser: "Data reveals success of strong high stakes graduation requirement."  The press release goes on to tout improvements in test scores over previous years.  
Northfield schools continued to score higher than the state average, while schools in Faribault generally fell below the state average at each grade level, despite improvements over last year. Unsurprisingly, Faribault's superintendent, Bob Stepaniak, is "frustrated," and Northfield's superintendent, Chris Richardson, is "encouraged." 
What does this mean?  What does it mean that Northfield outperformed a school district only fifteen miles away? 
Part of the answer surely is in demographics.  Faribault has a higher percentage of "free and reduced price lunch" students—a measure of poverty—than…