Friday, December 7, 2018

December 7, 2018

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS – My Annual List of Books I’ve Read and Highly Recommend


At Christmas Time many of us think about giving gifts to friends and to those we love. Each year in this MY CORNER series I like to offer a list of books that I think would be excellent Christmas gifts.

So, again this year, I offer a short list of books that I’ve read (I admit I haven’t had as much time as I would like to read!) and that I believe would make excellent gifts, or that, perhaps, you might wish to own and read yourself.

From time immemorial it has been the custom in Christian lands to give gifts, to give presents to our loved ones and dear friends. In a sense, that custom mirrors the Greatest Gift of All, the coming of Our Blessed Lord in a lowly stable in Bethlehem of Judaea a little over two 2,000 years ago. On our human level we express and share that joy with other humans.

In recent days, as I searched for some age-appropriate gifts for my two young grand-nephews, fighting the crowds and the horrific traffic, I got to thinking about this wonderful tradition and just what it means, or, at least should mean: not just the onerous obligation “to get something” for Uncle Bill or Cousin Jane, not just the requirement to get out in all the hurly-burly and swirl of frantic last minute shoppers. But the very real joy of showing Our Savior’s love in us by sharing it with someone we love. Indeed, the joy occasioned by our giving in some ways outweighs the joy in the eyes and expressions of the recipients of our gifts.

Here is my list, with brief information about each one, and how to purchase them:

First—and this is a perennial favorite: GENERAL LEE AND SANTA CLAUS (Scuppernong Press: It is available via Amazon, but much quicker via the publisher Scuppernong Press.  Here is what I said about this charming volume last year:

“One such tale that I vividly recall [growing up] was what we knew as 'General Lee and Santa Claus'.  Although my father would usually just recite it to us, we later found out that it had actually been published shortly after the War Between the States (1867). We had no reason to doubt it, and, indeed, until this day there is some debate about whether the incident recalled actually occurred. But as good Southerners, devoted to our land and our people and our traditions, even if tinged in legend, we knew that it must have been true!  [….]I give thanks to Jennifer Uhlank for her summary…it is just like I remember it:

“I recently came across an interesting Christmas-y story about General Robert E Lee. I am not sure the story is true, but I found it interesting, so I thought I would share it with you. The story was written about by Louise Clack in her 1867 book titled General Lee and Santa Claus: Mrs. Louise Clack’s Christmas Gift to Her Little Southern Friends.

“As the story goes, sometime after the end of the Civil War, three young southern girls were confused as to why no Southern children received toys at Christmas during the war years. Their aunt suggested that the reason was because General Lee would not allow Santa to cross the lines into territory held by the South. The inquisitive girls took it upon themselves to write General Lee and find out if, in fact, this was the case. They greased the wheels by complimenting Lee, saying he was the “goodest man that ever lived” and that he “always spoke the truth.” Their letter continued as follows:

“Please tell us whether Santa Claus loves the little rebel children, for we think he don't; because he did not come to see us for four Christmas Eves. Auntie thinks you would not let him cross the lines, and we don't know how to find out unless we write and ask you. We all love you dearly, and we want to send you something; but we have not anything nice enough; we lost all our toys in the war. Birdie wants to send you one of our white kittens—the one with black ears; but Auntie thinks maybe you don't like kittens. We say little prayers for you every night, dear General Lee, and ask God to make you ever so happy.”

“They signed the letter with ‘Your little friends, Lutie, Birdie, and Minnie’.

“According to Mrs. Clack, General Lee wrote the little girls back, thanking them for their prayers, and explaining to them what happened to their toys. His letter stated the following:

“The first Christmas Eve of the war I was walking up and down in the camp ground, when I thought I heard a singular noise above my head; and on looking to find out from whence it came, I saw the queerest, funniest-looking little old fellow riding along in a sleigh through the air. On closer inspection, he proved to be Santa Claus.

“Halt! Halt!, I said; but at this the funny fellow laughed, and did not seem inclined to obey, so again I cried Halt!. And he drove down to my side with a sleigh full of toys. I was very sorry for him when I saw the disappointed expression of his face when I told him he could go no further South; and when he exclaimed, Oh, what will my little Southern children do! I felt more sorry, for I love little children to be happy, and especially at Christmas. But of one thing I was certain—I knew my little friends would prefer me to do my duty, rather than have all the toys in the world; so I said: Santa Claus, take every one of the toys you have back as far as Baltimore, sell them, and with the money you get buy medicines, bandages, ointments, and delicacies for our sick and wounded men; do it and do it quickly—it will be all right with the children.”

“Lee continued his letter, stating that Santa saluted, drove away, and returned before dawn with not only the requested supplies, but much more for the sick and wounded men, and that Santa did this every Christmas Eve during the war. Lee closed his letter by inviting the three girls to write him again and signed off with, ‘Your true friend, General Robert E. Lee’.

“I have no proof that these letters were ever truly written or exchanged. Whether they were real or simply a work of Mrs. Clack’s imagination, I thought they gave an interesting perspective on that period in our nation's history.’

GENERAL LEE AND SANTA CLAUS would make an ideal Christmas present for both a child OR an adult, and is one of those short volumes that could be read out to smaller children by parents. Scuppernong Press can get your order to you within a week…an ideal Christmas present!

Second, what may be the most significant, indeed, most critical book published this year: Tucker Carlson’s SHIP OF FOOLS (Free Press, easily obtained via Amazon). I have actually given this book as gift to a friend—who is not college educated—and who told me that it was most important book he had read in years! Basically, Carlson, who is a fearless Fox News commentator, presents a running, highly-readable, highly-understandable survey of the basic takeover going on in America currently, where the elites in BOTH political parties, both the Democrats AND Republicans, ride roughshod over the voters and citizens, promising one thing, but when in Washington and in the major power centers, basically turning our nation into one large plantation controlled by them, used by them, raped (if I may use that overused term) by them.

Carlson points out that, in contradistinction to the consistent claims made by Democrats, it is they who have now become the rich and powerful, the party of billionaires living in their gated mansions and who demand that the rest of us pay our taxes while they manage to avoid theirs. And GOP power brokers go along…or, at least, have gone along until Donald Trump began to shake things up a bit.   In his traversal Carlson examines the use of such accusations a “racist” or “sexist” to attack those who dissent; he takes a hard look—frankly, extremely frightening—at the immigration crisis and what it means for our future; and he offers a scary picture of academia, now converted into a hyper-revolutionary hotbed turning out radicals who wish to totally convert this nation….  This is a must read for anyone concerned about our future.

Third, while the so-called “Russia Investigation”—that effort by quasi- and non-legal means to overturn the 2016 election—goes forth on behalf of the elites of the “deep state,” there is a volume that offers some significant background, necessary for reference as this not-so-silent coup against a sitting president, the Mueller Investigation, continues…and will probably even intensify when the Democrats take over the US House of Representative this coming January 2019. It is Greg Jarrett’s THE RUSSIA HOAX: THE ILLICIT SCHEME TO CLEAR HILLARY CLINTON AND FRAME DONALD TRUMP (Broadside/HarperCollins). Although the revelations continue, this study is a basic primer, a tool, if you will, which is invaluable for its detailed account and mountain of information.

Fourth, back to the South: I have a good friend, Joseph Jay (his pen name, as he is in grad school presently), who has just written a short but very powerful and convincing study: SACRED CONVICTION: THE SOUTH’S STAND FOR BIBLICAL AUTHORITY (Shotwell Publishing, Columbia, SC). His volume, just ninety-five pages, is a concise but conclusive defense of the Old South in its defense of Biblical Christianity, and in so doing Jay examines the writings of the great Southern divines and writers of the past, and the debates they had with their Northern brethren over the Bible and its interpretation. Fully documented and footnoted, Jay also includes a full bibliography; the works of great classic theologians like James Henley Thornwell and Robert Lewis Dabney are cited and employed, plus various contemporary sources as well. In a sense, Joseph Jay takes up where the late historian Eugene Genovese led in such volumes as his THE MIND OF THE MASTER CLASS and in his various scholarly essays on Thornwell and the Southern Calvinist tradition.  Let me add, that while my religious tradition is Catholic, I found very much in this volume of significant value that all defenders of traditional Christianity AND the South will appreciate. You need this book.

Fourth, something different…and which was actually published back in 2013, but that I’ve only now gotten around to reading: Cambridge University Professor Christopher Clark’s THE SLEEPWALKERS: HOW EUROPE WENT TO WAR IN 1914 (Harper, 2013). I agree with all the reviewers I have read about this mammoth 700 page volume: it may well just be the definitive study of how the Great War, the centennial of the conclusion of which we are now commemorating, began and how it went from being an assassination in a remote Bosnian city in the Balkans into a conflagration that destroyed much of old Europe, ushering in the age of dictators and Communism, and forever changing world history—for the worse.  Professor Clark does not set out to specifically assign blame, but rather to show how events spiraled out of control and how various Foreign Offices of major powers, in particular in France and England, attempted to manipulate the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, for their own purposes.

Back on November 13, in a published column in THE UNZ REVIEW about Veterans’ Day ( I wrote the following:

“…historians such as Bard College professor Sean McMeekin (in July 1914: Countdown to War, Basic Books, 2013) and Cambridge University’s Christopher Clark (in The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914; Harper, 2013) have overwhelmingly confirmed that earlier, if once hotly debated revisionist view. In the words of reviewer Eric Margolis:

`The Sleepwalkers’ shows how officials and politicians in Britain and France conspired to transform Serbia’s murder of Austro-Hungary’s Crown Prince into a continent-wide conflict. France burned for revenge for its defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and loss of Alsace-Lorraine. Britain feared German commercial and naval competition. At the time, the British Empire controlled one quarter of the world’s surface. Italy longed to conquer Austria-Hungary’s South Tyrol. Turkey feared Russia’s desire for the Straits. Austria-Hungary feared Russian expansion.

Prof Clark clearly shows how the French and British maneuvered poorly-led Germany into the war. The Germans were petrified of being crushed between two hostile powers, France and Russia. The longer the Germans waited, the more the military odds turned against them….Britain kept stirring the pot, determined to defeat commercial and colonial rival, Germany. The rush to war became a gigantic clockwork that no one could stop. [Eric Margolis, “Are We Headed for Another Tragedy Like World War I?”, November 10, 2018, at: ]

Although 700 pages this volume reads like one giant detective novel—but you know the outcome, and you realize half-way through that this will forever change everything, that millions will die, and that civilization will be fatally wounded.  To understand this, THE SLEEPWALKERS is fundamental.

Lastly, I must blow my own horn, so to speak: My anthology of thirty-five years of writing essays, review, and articles about the South, its heritage, and the attacks on it, has now appeared. It is THE LAND WE LOVE: THE SOUTH AND ITS HERITAGE (Scuppernong Press, hardback, 308 pages; November, 2018), and it is available directly from the publisher, from, and via Barnes & Noble.

Initially, after Amazon had sold all the copies it had on hand, it could only offer the book with a month or two delay; but now, using a third party, it can dispatch copies to you that will arrive by December 18 [ ]

However, should you desire to receive a more rapid delivery, the publisher Scuppernong Press has copies for immediate shipment:

Finally, Barnes & Noble also offers the book, and you may purchase it there (they also offer some web site specials), using their marketplace sellers somewhat inexpensively, also:

One final word: as this is December 7, let us recall this day in history, seventy-seven years ago. The veterans of that war that began for us back then are now few and becoming a handful by the day, and the men and women that experienced the attack at Pearl Harbor are even fewer. We honor their sacrifice in a war they did not make nor want. Rest in peace, but remain in our memory and thoughts!

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                                                         April 30, 2021   MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey   The Survival of Western Culture...