Tag Archives: T.J. Stiles
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When we learned American history in school, a few easily identifiable names stuck in our memory. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, of course. Thomas Jefferson, FDR, and John F. Kennedy, probably (though Kennedy was after I’d left for college). But high on the list is one man who was never president, and in fact never rose above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army: George Armstrong Custer. What became almost universally known as Custer’s Last Stand has taken the place among the iconic events in our country’s history. Unfortunately, as we’ve learned to expect, the history we were spoon-fed in our public schools about both the event and the man was oversimplified, at best. As the brilliant Berkeley biographer T. J. Stiles demonstrates in Custer’s Trials, the life led by Custer before the massacre at Little Big Horn in 1876 was, if anything, far more significant than his death.
Custer at war
Custer was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army cavalry not long out of West Point when the Civil War broke out in 1861. After an uncomfortable stint in the Balloon Corps, conducting reconnaissance missions over enemy lines, Custer managed to ingratiate himself with General George McClellan, Commander of the Army of the Potomac. He was quickly given a position on the general ‘s staff and promoted to captain. … Continue reading »
Every year Berkeleyside puts together a list of the best books the editors have read. We generally ask local authors and literary-minded folk to contribute their picks. This year we decided to mimic the format used by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, and that meant asking everyone to limit their selections to two books apiece – a difficult task, we found. Here, then, is our selection of the Best Books of 2014.
Elizabeth Rosner: “Two books leap ahead of the herd”
Two books leap ahead of the herd when I think about outstanding reading experiences this year.
The first is Karen Joy Fowler’s acclaimed novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, with its astonishingly original approach to the subject of familial love. Months after finishing the book, I can still recall the sensation of holding my breath while I turned the pages, hopeful and terrified and amused and devastated. This story broke my heart and blew my mind. In a very different but equally momentous way, I found myself profoundly affected by cover designer Peter Mendelsund’s book What We See When We Read. He offers an inspired “phenomenological” study of something that we readers both do and do not quite know about what is happening inside our brains, using examples from many of my favorite writers (Woolf, Tolstoy, Joyce, Kafka, and plenty of others). It’s a thrillingly visual and imaginative window into the mysterious and rapturous activity we call reading. … Continue reading »
NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT It seems appropriate that during after such a contested and divisive election The Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley is performing Richard III, the classic Shakespeare tale of “the lust for power gone berserk.” The king won’t let anyone stand in the way of his desire for the crown of England. Richard III, directed by Sharon Huff Robinson, is the Actor’s Ensemble’s final production for its 55th season. It runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Nov 17 at Live Oak Theater.
BOOKS OF ALL STRIPES, GALORE Every book lover in town knows that the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s annual book sale is a great place to pick up tomes at a discount. All books, CDs, DVDs, and records are only 50 cents apiece. This year the Friends have added new categories such as sexuality, humor, and vintage. The sale takes place on Saturday Nov. 10 on the third floor of the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge Street and runs from 10 to 4 pm. Lines can be long, so arrive early. … Continue reading »