Saturday, November 15, 2014

A restless reader in New York

Since coming to New York City earlier this year, I’ve kept a bunch of New York books on my nightstand. Among them are the journals of Alfred Kazin, which I recently finished, and the diary of George Templeton Strong. Kazin was one of the premier literary critics in the country during the 20th century, Strong a lawyer who began keeping his diary in his youth

Detail of the Louisiana monument at Gettysburg, which is discussed in "What
the rebels won at Gettysburg" from top-25 list. (David Sullivan photo). 
In Strong’s case, I’m hoping his almost legendary account of the Civil War years will provide fodder for this blog, but mainly I’m trying to steep myself in New York history.

I am a restless reader. I read Thomas Berger’s obituary in the New York Times earlier this year and picked up his best known book, Little Big Man. What a treat! Maybe not Mark Twain but in the same neighborhood.

Most years I buy the Booker Prize winner. I read this year’s, Richard Flanagan’s harrowing The Narrow Road to the Deep North, with deep interest. Years ago, I helped Steve Raymond, a Bataan Death March survivor, get his memoir into print. Though a novel, Flanagan’s book tells a similar story; because a novel, its author imagines the inner lives of the Japanese captors as well as the ordeal of their Australian prisoners.

Vera Brittain’s memoir and journal are among my favorite books about World War I. Now, to fulfill a desire to read at least one more book about this war during the centennial year of its beginning, I’ve started Poilu. This is the marvelous diary-cum-memoir of a French barrel-maker who survived four years in the trenches.


Even though I have added few posts to the Our War blog during the last month, readership remains strong, for which I thank you. Page-views have now reached more than 54,000.  Even the haikus I’ve been writing about my wife Monique’s and my early days in New York have attracted eaders.

Here are the top 25 blog posts all-time on the basis of page-view count. Their numbers range from 1,123 to 266. The numbers in parenthesis are last month’s rankings.

9. A Gettysburg journal (part 3) (9)

           A gift from the heart (19)



  1. Hi Mike,

    For some time I have been following and enjoying your blog. With your new focus on New York, I wonder whether you might be interested in seeing a Civil War manuscript that recently surfaced in the as-yet un-archived papers of the Goshen Historical Society. It is an 80-page soldier's account of his Fourth New York Battery. This very fragile manuscript does not seem to have any connection to Goshen, but we believe it may have considerable historical value. We would appreciate it if you could evaluate it; or if not, perhaps you could suggest someone who might do this. I would be happy to provide more details about its content (including excerpts) and condition if you think you might be interested in seeing this.


    1. Hi John -- So nice to hear from you. Of course I'm interested! I look forward to a Goshen sojourn in summer and could look at it then unless you can Zerox and send it to me, And please do send more details via email: -- I know quite a bit about this regiment and can probably put the manuscript in context. All best, Mike