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Eating my written vegetables

by Evan | Aug 03, 2018
Bloody ShirtSometimes I read books because I should read them, even if I don't immediately want to. They're like eating unseasoned vegetables -- nourishing but possibly bitter. Still, I do feel enriched after finishing them, and before long I will choose another one.

The broccoli in my CD player this month is The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox by Stephen Budiansky. Actually, it's a pretty interesting read, but the subject matter -- how the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters won the peace after the Civil War -- is so dispiriting that I have to take it in doses.

Most of the book tells the stories of several individuals who tried to make Reconstruction work -- tried to give black Americans equal rights in the South. They displayed a lot of courage, but it turned out the Confederacy was not the only Lost Cause.

Racism pervades time and space in our country. (In fact, we are getting a new book about how black settlers were abused in Indiana and the rest of the Old Northwest. The title of Anna-Lisa Cox's work is The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality.) But powerful 19th century Southern whites celebrated their racism, made it the bedrock of their society -- and millions of people have suffered accordingly. 

One of the buzz terms in my own social circles is "white privilege." It's a bitter morsel indeed -- hard for a lot of people to swallow in today's time of supposed equal opportunity. But when you work through something like The Bloody Shirt, you can see how racism is down but not out. 

Anyway, reading for fun is great stuff, but I hope people will also use the library to read about the problems of our world -- be they social, moral, environmental or otherwise. Hey, a few months ago I even listened to the autobiography of a politician for whom I had no love. I still don't love him very much, but at least I can better understand him.


EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.

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