Monday, July 16, 2007

On to the 19th century

We've looked at our Revolution - let's look at France's (happy belated Bastille Day, by the way). Liberty: the lives and times of six women in revolutionary France, by Lucy Moore, uses the experiences of six different women, from different social classes, to illustrate the events and impacts of the French Revolution. None of their lives were safe or uneventful, and some of them came very close indeed to a meeting with La Guillotine, as their wealth, birth, and political associations made them a target of suspicion. And that pretty much sums up the French Revolution - no matter how high up the ladder you are today, one denunciation can have you in prison by nightfall.

Another turbulent time - the American Civil War - is touched upon in Last Flag Down: the epic journey of the last confederate warship, by John Baldwin and Ron Powers. The C.S.S. Shenandoah was a raiding ship that was supposed to play merry havoc with the Union economy. The ship set off on a round-the-world voyage in late 1864, looking for Union merchant ships to pillage and sink. Unfortunately, CNN and cell phones not being available then, they were unaware that the war had ended and they were now the 19th century equivalents of 'enemy combatants': pirates. Unable to set foot in an American port, what with being criminals and fugitives, their only hope was to sail to England. Did they make it? Find out.

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