Peace and Freedom

“Let us all work together to help all human beings achieve dignity and equality; to build a greener planet; and to make sure no one is left behind.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Today is the International Day of Peace, a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, and a day to acknowledge those who have made significant sacrifices to help end conflict and injustice for the betterment of the entire human race.

peace and freedom.final.final.inddDedicated to working toward social change through nonviolence and peace since his teens, Bernard LaFayette Jr. has been a civil rights activist for over fifty years. He was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a leader in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign. At the age of twenty-two, Lafayette assumed the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign in Selma—a city that had previously been removed from the campaign’s list due to the dangers of operating there.

In his compelling memoir, written with Kathryn Lee Johnson, LaFayette shares his experience as one of the primary organizers of the Selma voting rights movement and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches. When he arrived in 1963, Selma was a quiet, rural town. By 1965, it had made its mark in history and was recognized as the site of one of the most important victories for social change in the nation.

In honor of the International Day of Peace, here is an excerpt from In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma. Important and powerful, LaFayette’s account presents a necessary perspective on the civil rights movement in the 1960s from one of its greatest leaders.

 


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Selma, Alabama. What was it about this little southern town that sparks the question from so many people, “Why go to Selma? You can’t bring about any change there.” I wondered about this sentiment as I made plans to spend the next couple of years there as Director of the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, commonly referred to as “snick”). The Southern Regional Council’s (SRC) “Voter Education Project” headed by Randolph Blackwell, was a recipient of grants from the Field Foundation and Taconic Foundation. They sponsored projects aimed at increasing the number of voters in primarily black populated counties throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia. The SRC was an organization founded in 1919 that was committed to fighting for racial justice and informing public policy on issues of democratic rights and equality.

President John F. Kennedy’s administration had an influence in funding the voting project, “deliverables” as they called it. Because Kennedy was elected unquestionably by the marginal votes from blacks, his administration was committed to increasing support to help blacks vote. In President Kennedy’s inaugural address he said, “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change” and also quoted from the Bible, to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”

President Kennedy’s address gave the black people in America hope. His leadership inspired and motivated a new generation of blacks to press for change since we had White House support for the first time. I met President Kennedy while he was campaigning in New York. I was at a SNCC meeting and our entire group went to hear him speak. After the speech he shook our hands and gave SNCC recognition and support. So I felt a personal connection with this young president. The way that he spoke out for civil rights and recognized Dr. King authenticated what the Movement was doing. Although many black citizens had lived in segregation in second class conditions, now, as a result of President Kennedy’s stand against discrimination, we felt that we were doing the right thing, the real American way. We were ready to continue our struggle, to accomplish as much as possible under President Kennedy’s leadership.

Many southern blacks had two pictures on the wall, one was Jesus and one was Kennedy. Even though most were Baptists, they didn’t care that Kennedy was Catholic. Although his voting record on civil rights as a senator was not strong, he did recognize that blacks were supporting him and he looked at ways to gain more black votes.

I felt that Kennedy, as president of the United States, should advocate for the idea of the government as a democracy of the people and for the people. It is the president’s responsibility to take action to remove those impediments that prevent citizens, particularly disenfranchised people, from participating in government. Kennedy certainly voiced his support to protect those rights, as citizens most prominently remembered in his “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” speech. He challenged us as young people to have a commitment. As a civil rights activist, I never considered myself a rebel against the nation, never anti-American. I was proud of my country and wanted to work to help it be the best, and for it to live up to its creed and purpose. I felt what I was doing was of service to my country. I would have volunteered in the military, and considered becoming a Chaplain in the Air Force. However, the nonviolence movement gave me a way to serve my country in a better way, a positive way, a more peaceful way.

I had spent the last two years participating in Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, riding busses across the south as a Freedom Rider, working with the Jackson Mississippi Nonviolent Movement and was editor of the Jackson Movement Newsletter. I went to get my assignment as director of a campaign from James Forman, the executive secretary of SNCC. I had always had a great respect for Jim and recognized that he was effective in his work with SNCC. He had maturity and experience, and most important he had a great rapport with students. He knew the importance of students taking leadership, to challenge injustices and to bring about change. Not only was he an administrator, but he joined us on the front line because of his personal passion for the cause. He was a leader who truly forged the way. In some instances Jim was more radical than the students. He had both the southern experience of Mississippi and the northern exposure of Chicago.

But that day Jim told me, “I’m sorry, Bernard, but we don’t have any directorships available at this time.”

I simply couldn’t believe that all the directorships had been assigned, especially since Jim knew I was waiting for one. I said, “Now Jim, remember I helped to raise the $30,000 bond money for three SNCC workers. You promised me a directorship position when I returned, but now you’re insisting that nothing is available? This isn’t right.” Dion Diamond, Chuck McDew, and Bob Zellner, were in jail in Louisiana for helping blacks register to vote. I was sent to Detroit and Chicago to raise money to help get them released.

He said, “You could work with Charles Sherrod in southwest Georgia, Bob Moses in Mississippi or Bill Hansen in Arkansas.” Even though I was only 22, I was determined and made it clear, stating emphatically, “I don’t want to be an assistant director, I’m ready to be a director of a project and you should keep your promise.”

Jim said, “Bernard, the only project left is the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign in Selma, but we just removed Selma from the list. So, it’s out of the question. Two groups of SNCC workers just returned from scouting the city and reported, ‘The white folks are too mean and the black folks are too afraid.’”

Despite the fact that Selma was centrally located in Alabama, they marked a bold black X across Selma on the wall map of Alabama. However, Jim said, “Even though we’ve rejected Selma, if you want to, you can go there, check it out and see what you think.” Alabama was infamous for the suppression of black voting rights and with its central location and large numbers of blacks, it seemed to me like the perfect location to headquarter the state office for voter registration.

I enthusiastically responded, “I’ll take Selma, sight unseen.” That is how I became director of the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign.

ROCKS

The Bourbon Capital of the World

Whether you’re a lover of history or just a bourbon enthusiast, Bardstown, Kentucky is the perfect place to spend a weekend.  In the second edition of Kentucky Bourbon Country, The Essential Travel Guide, Susan Reigler points out the many historic and cultural attractions this small Kentucky town has to offer, including the annual six-day Kentucky Bourbon Festival which will be wrapping up this weekend.

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The historic Old Talbott Tavern

Not only is it home to more than 300 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places — including Federal Hill, the inspiration for the state’s anthem residing at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, and the Old Talbot Tavern — Bardstown is also within a half hour of six famous  bourbon distilleries. The newest edition to these is the Bardstown Bourbon Company, which just opened its doors this summer.

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The Bardstown Bourbon Company

 

 

Bring on the Bourbon

Delicious food, entertainment, as well as some great events will be offered in Bardstown this weekend during the festival, where bourbon will be savored, sampled, discussed and celebrated! In this excerpt from her travel guide, Reigler provides a detailed description of the event:

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival began in 1992 with a dinner and tastings. Today it has grown into a six-day event with concerts, races, a golf tournament, a cocktail contest, cooking and drink-mixing classes, expert panel discussions, an auction of bourbon memorabilia, a gala black-tie dinner, and more. In 2014 some 53,000 people attended the festival, traveling from forty-four states, the District of Columbia, and fourteen countries.

The center of the festival’s activities is the Spalding Hall lawn, just outside the entrance to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History (114 North Fifth Street). Almost all the distilleries set up exhibits on the lawn, and merchants display and sell all kinds of bourbon-related items there, from books to foodstuffs. There are also demonstrations of barrel making, and the lawn is well within hearing range of the outdoor concerts taking place on a nearby stage. Not surprisingly, the Spirit Garden, where visitors can purchase bourbon drinks and beer, is one of the most popular sites.

[. . .] The festival is a good time to meet many of the people involved in the bourbon industry. All the master distillers are on hand for many of the events, and they will certainly be in attendance at Saturday night’s Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting and Gala.

While at the festival, swing by the University Press of Kentucky booth, check out some of our fantastic book offerings, and say hello! native

In Memory of Screen Legend Dorothy McGuire

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Dorothy McGuire, circa 1945. James Bawden collection.

Stage-trained actress Dorothy McGuire, whose credits include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Old Yeller (1957), and A Summer Place (1959), was one of the most interesting leading ladies of the 1940s and 1950s. She was extremely versatile, always bringing style and grace to every performance. But she didn’t build a large cult following of fans despite a solid legacy of truly memorable screen performances. Perhaps that’s due to her general aversion to publicity and a life lived without a breath of scandal or notoriety.

In honor of this talented stage actress, who passed away 15 years ago today at the age of 85, we’re sharing an excerpt from Ron Miller’s interview from the release Conversations with Classic Film Stars.


Setting the Scene

Dorothy McGuire’s disdain for publicity always brings a smile to my face because I remember how severely I was warned about that subject when she agreed to do an interview with me in 1983 in connection with the ABC TV movie Ghost Dancing. The publicist insisted, “Don’t ask her about anything except the new movie. She hates talking about the past. If you try asking her about the ‘good old days,’ she may get up and walk out on you!”

Well, I certainly didn’t want that to happen, yet…how could I ignore those “good old days” that included so many movie classics? So, here’s what I resolved to do: Concentrate hard on getting the bare essentials about Ghost Dancing, then damn the torpedoes and go full speed ahead into all the really good stuff. If she bolted on me, then I’d still have enough for a story on the current project, even if she dumped her soup over my head when I asked about her earlier work.

It turned out to be a pretty decent plan. McGuire issued no new rules when she arrived for our luncheon date at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, so I hot-footed it through the Ghost Dancing questions, then waltzed her right down memory lane without giving her a chance to catch her breath.

If she knew she’d been scammed, she didn’t let on. McGuire turned out to be a relaxed and friendly lunch companion, still a handsome woman with genuine class. My guess is she did like to talk about the earlier stuff–as long as the questions were fair ones. She also seemed to appreciate the fact that I actually knew what she’d accomplished before meeting her.

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Dorothy McGuire with Gregory Peck in Elia Kazan’s Gentleman’s Agreement, the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1947. Courtesy of 20th Century-Fox.

The Interview

MILLER: From what I’ve read about the beginnings of your acting career, I’d say there was a blessing on you from the start.

McGUIRE: Maybe so. I had such extraordinary breaks–from the moment I entered the theater. I made my stage debut at age 13 at the Omaha Community Playhouse in James Barrie’s A Kiss of Cinderella. My leading man was the young Henry Fonda!

MILLER: I’m guessing the breaks continued when you finally headed for New York and the Broadway stage.

McGUIRE: I arrived on Broadway in 1938 and began as the understudy to Martha Scott for the role of Emily in the original production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.  When Martha was signed to star in the movie version, I took over for her.

MILLER: Getting to play the leading female role in a play destined to become an American drama classic was certainly a big career plus for a young actress. So, that made you a pretty hot property in theater?

McGUIRE: It certainly led to my getting the title role in Claudia, the play based on Rose Franken’s novel and stories about a young woman who marries and starts learning about adult life in the 1940s. That was in 1941. The producers had rejected 208 other actresses before picking me.

MILLER: I guess their faith in you was justified when you won the New York Drama Critics Circle award for your performance.

McGUIRE: I think it also justified Leland Hayward’s faith in me. (Hayward, her agent, was the most influential Broadway agent at the time.)

MILLER: With Leland Hayward going to bat for you, you were in good shape for theater work–and you had a pretty good spokesman for your movie career, too, didn’t you?

McGUIRE: If you mean David O. Selznick, you’re right. He signed me to a movie contract after Claudia became a Broadway hit and he was then the most successful producer in Hollywood after Gone With the Wind and Rebecca had won back to back Best Picture Oscars.

MILLER: What did he have in mind for your movie debut?

McGUIRE: He really didn’t have anything for me and, as it turned out, I never made a movie with him!  But he decided to make some money off me by loaning me out to other studios, who did have things they wanted me to do. I think he needed to pay off some of the enormous sums he spent on Gone With the Wind and that was one way to do it.

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Dorothy McGuire in her most famous “mom” role, with Tommy Kirk i Disney’s 1957 Old Yeller. Courtesy of the Walt Disney Corp. and NBC.

MILLER: Did you resent that?

McGUIRE: No. That turned out to be perfectly OK. David watched over what scripts were sent to me and things like that. He was a man of great integrity.

MILLER: Where did he send you first?

McGUIRE: Fox and RKO.  They both were making good pictures in those days. Twentieth Century-Fox had the movie rights to Claudia, so they had me reprise my stage role, playing opposite Robert Young as my husband, David.

MILLER: Claudia (1943) turned out to be a big hit for Fox, especially among women who identified with the young wife as she learns how to grow up at the same time she’s learning how to be a wife. It was such a hit that they immediately decided to continue the story in a sequel, Claudia and David. That was a phenomenal start for a young actress with no film experience.

McGUIRE: I took it all for granted, I’m sorry to say. I thought it was just the way it is.

MILLER: While the sequel was being written, Fox put you into another prestige picture, the film version of Betty Smith’s best-seller A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Your reaction?

McGUIURE: I was terrified. I didn‘t think I‘d be convincing in the challenging role of teenage star  Peggy Ann Garner’s pregnant mother.

At that exact moment in my life, I’d never had a child. I wasn’t quite sure about the whole mechanism, about what really happened to you. Being a very serious-type actress, I was very upset by this.

MILLER: Your director was Elia Kazan, who was making his debut as a movie director after years on the stage as an actor and director. Did you get much help from him?

McGUIRE: I went to him and told him I had no such experiences in life and didn’t know where to get the emotions I’d need. He was very patient with me and let me ramble on about my misgivings and anxieties. What he did, in a sense, was lock up all this intensity inside me so it wouldn’t be dissipated. He was marvelous. There are intangible things about actors like that which he just instinctively knew.

MILLER: The film was a big success and put both you and Kazan on the map as the hot new prospects in Hollywood. James Dunn, who played your alcoholic husband, won the supporting actor Oscar and Peggy Ann Garner won a special Oscar as best child actress of 1945. That’s when RKO stepped up with another wonderful role for you.

McGUIRE: They gave me the part of the mute servant girl who’s menaced by a serial killer in The Spiral Staircase.

MILLER: That was a real acting challenge because you had to play virtually the entire film in pantomime. How did that go?

McGUIRE: Robert Siodmak was a brilliant director and he lifted the film out of the ordinary. You know those creepy close-ups where we just see the eye of the strangler, watching me? That was Robert’s eye! He was that vain!

Conversations_With_Classic_Film_Stars_CoverAfterword

Our interview finally ended when the waiter brought our lunches. “Turn off your recorder,” she told me. “Now we’re going to eat.”

Which is what we did, all right, just chatting about nothing in particular from then on. With the recorder off, Dorothy McGuire was just a handsome middle-aged lady having lunch with a friend in Beverly Hills. And, unless I put one of her films on the TV for a reminder of how good she was on screen, that’s the way I’ll always remember her, too.

McGuire was married for 35 years to Life magazine photographer John Swope and had two children with him. Her last film role was in a 1990 TV movie (The Last Best Year) and she spent the last decade of her life in retirement. She died of cardiac arrest in 2001, just a few days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, so there was little news space devoted to her death. She was eighty-five.

ROCKS

A Toast to National Bourbon Heritage Month

September is a most wonderful time—when the weather starts to cool, leaves start to turn, and the world turns its attention to the Commonwealth for National Bourbon Heritage Month! We’ll be celebrating this genteel and genuinely Kentucky holiday with cocktail and food recipes, new books, and a trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails6.inddTo kick things off, enjoy a celebratory tipple of “The Rutledge Rebellion,” created by Jason Start of Martini Italian Bistro in Louisville, representing Four Roses Distillery. “The Rutledge Rebellion” took first prize at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Mixed Drink Challenge in 2014 in the Bourbon Punch Category. Named for Four Roses master distiller emeritus, Jim Rutledge, “The Rutledge Rebellion” won the honor of being the official cocktail of the 2015 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Try your hand at this well-crafted recipe from Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler’s newest book, More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails. Cheers!

The Rutledge Rebellion

Rutledge Rebellion via The Kentucky Standard

The overall winning drink, ‘The Rutledge Rebellion’ (photo by Kacie Goode. Used with permission from The Kentucky Standard.)

1 1/2 ounces Four Roses Small Batch bourbon
1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce apple pureé
(3 apples, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup simple syrup, 1/2               cup water, and 1/2 cup lemon juice—blended and                 strained)
or 1 ounce apple juice
2 ounces dry champagne
1 syringe Bittermens Tiki bitters

Combine ingredients in a pint glass and stir. Fill with ice, garnish with an orange slice and a mint sprig and serve with a straw.

In Remembrance of Emmett Till

tillOn August 28, 1955, fourteen-year-old Chicago native Emmett Till was brutally beaten to death for allegedly flirting with a white woman at a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were acquitted of murdering Till and dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River, and later that year, an all-white grand jury chose not to indict the men on kidnapping charges. A few months later, Bryant and Milam admitted to the crime in an interview with the national media. They were never convicted.

Although Till’s body was mutilated, his mother ordered that his casket remain open during the funeral service so that the country could observe the results of racially motivated violence in the Deep South. Media attention focused on the lynching fanned the flames of regional tension and impelled many individuals—including Rosa Parks—to become vocal activists for racial equality.

In this innovative study, In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle, Darryl Mace explores media coverage of Till’s murder and provides a close analysis of the regional and racial perspectives that emerged. He investigates the portrayal of the trial in popular and black newspapers in Mississippi and the South, documents post-trial reactions, and examines Till’s memorialization in the press to highlight the media’s role in shaping regional and national opinions.

Till was murdered 61 years ago, yet this provocative and compelling work — which still resonates in light of the current state of racial affairs, the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the role of social media in exposing attacks and killings by the police — provides a valuable new perspective on one of the sparks that ignited the civil rights movement.

A Boy Named Sue …

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Marcellus Jerome Clarke as a Confederate soldier. Photo via Wikipedia.

Marcellus Jerome Clarke was a quiet teenager when he enlisted in the Confederate Army. But following his capture by Union forces and his subsequent escape, he rode with the famous John Hunt Morgan for a time before leaving the army, forming a guerrilla gang and ultimately becoming one of the Civil War’s most enigmatic figures: a criminal named Sue Mundy.

On March 15, 1865, three weeks before the end of the Civil War, twenty-year-old Clarke was hanged as a Confederate guerrilla in Louisville, Kentucky, as a crowd of thousands looked on. In the official charges against him, Clarke’s description included the alias “Sue Mundy.” By the time of his execution, Mundy had earned a reputation as the region’s most dangerous outlaw.

In the historical novel Sue Mundy: A Novel of the Civil War, author Richard Taylor chronicles in fiction the true story of Clarke and the legend of Mundy. In honor of what would have been the 172nd birthday of Marcellus Jerome Clarke, here’s an Q & A with the author about this fascinating figure:


What drew you to Jerome Clarke? Do you recall the catalyst for your interest in this historical figure? 

Taylor: What drew me initially to Sue Mundy was a photo that appeared in the late 70’s in a pictorial history of Louisville, Views of Louisville, published by the Courier Journal. It contained the photo of Sue Mundy seated with his legs crossed. I decided then to learn everything about him I could, starting with journal articles in the Register of the KY historical Society and Filson Club Quarterlies, then moving on to memoirs and books, then military records and courts martial in the National Archives. I also talked with experts on the subject who gave me perspective and additional help.

What about the photograph so compelled you?

Taylor: I was curious to get behind the image and learn the reality of his violent life. It opened up a number of questions and a number of possibilities to me. In some ways, the novel, just as the introductory description of Jerome Clarke seated, is a deconstruction of the photograph. The clarity of the image belies the complexity of shadow and substance that it embodies. By itself, the photograph is inadequate to explain who this person is, what produced him, what is going on in his head. The answer to these and similar questions, I guess, is what the novel is about. My favorite professor, Guy Davenport, defined art as the replacement of indifference with attention. It was hard for me to be indifferent about that image of Sue Mundy, just as about the same time, I was arrested by the photographs of sharecroppers in James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, whose faces I painted over a period of months as oil portraits, maybe as some kind of exorcism but also partially as commemoration. Jerome Clarke, at first a boy with good prospects, deserves, in the same way, some sort of explanation about how, given his upbringing and the times, he could go so wrong. My partial response is that all of us are potentially Sue Mundys, creatures of infinite possibility who are circumscribed by the collision of our potential with the realities of our circumstances. The novel is an exploration of these questions, a replacement of indifference with attention.

Talk a bit more about the research process. How did you begin? What sources were most useful to you?  

Taylor: First, I went to standard histories of the Civil War in Kentucky and followed every reference to Sue Mundy.  This meant county histories, standard histories of the war, biographies of participants (such as John Hunt Morgan), even diaries and memoirs. In addition to seeking out facts, I wanted to get a flavor of the war, gathering facts about weapons, horses, uniforms, etc. One of the most interesting experiences was accompanying a group of Civil War buffs along the route that William Quantrill followed in Kentucky. We stopped at the site of skirmishes and killings. One was the remains of a farmhouse in a cornfield that belonged to man named Prior Pruitt. Our expert, named Harold Edwards, pulled out an account of Quantrill’s coming to the house early in l865. He’d knocked on Pruitt’s door, the very door of the dilapidated building we were standing in front of. When Pruitt refused to open it, Quantrill shot through it, killing Pruitt (whose grave we visited a mile or so away). In the door was a single bullet hole. That bullet hole brought home the war to me in a way no book ever could.

The most useful sources were the straightforward journal articles. But the details that give it, I hope, some verisimilitude came from all the accounts I read, some of them pretty remote from Sue Mundy’s life. I read everything I could find that in any way contributed to the historical context and to the language I felt would make the narrative authentic. I drew from maybe 40 or 50 sources, making up what I had to or wanted to in an effort to make it all come together.

sueWhy did you choose to tackle this material as a novel rather than a straightforward history? What liberties did this genre allow you? What limitations?

Taylor: I considered writing a biography of Sue Mundy, but there were too many gaps in the material and too little analysis of his moral trajectory—the development of character that makes for good fiction. Writing a novel let me lie a little to tell the truth, as they say—at least the truth as I see it. This is another way of saying that not always having to verify what I said made the process more enjoyable. Writing fiction allowed me to apply Jerome’s experience to my own understanding of things. One of the things that moved me to take up the novel again was the loss of one of my own sons—imagining what his aspirations were and what it meant to die young.

So part of the challenge was remaining faithful to Jerome Clark’s point of view without sacrificing the larger perspective on the Civil War that his story offers.

Taylor: Though I tampered with facts, I tried very hard to adhere to what I believed was the reality of his experience. In order to convey that reality, I had to make him perhaps more aware, more sensitive than he actually was. I could not think of him, maybe any criminal, simply as a brute. Humans are intricately complex and changeable, an idea that lies at the heart of the fictional enterprise.

In what ways is Sue Mundy a tale not just of Jerome Clark, but of the Civil War in general?

Taylor: Jerome’s life is a microcosm of the larger war in Kentucky, the war in general.  There is the same loss of innocence as Kentucky switched its allegiances from north to south as a result of the draconian policies of the Union commandants who, in effect, ruled the state during the last two years of the war. In part, Jerome’s life is a movement from innocence to experience, idealism to disillusionment as he suffers the loss of his cousin Patterson and witnesses the devastating effects of war.

You mentioned before that you wanted Sue Mundy to address, in part, war’s dehumanization of individuals. Is this a story that has some relevance in today’s social and political climate?

Taylor: There is moral deterioration here just as there is in the sectarian violence in Iraq or Lebanon. The difference is that one relates to ethnicity, one almost purely to politics. Amazingly, people from opposing sides in the Civil War sat often in the same churches before and after the war. Guerrilla war means little war, the unofficial war that we are now witnessing in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Iraq.  Sadly, the fact that the similarities are so cogent makes a sorry comment about our lack of moral growth as a species. The names and allegiances change but not the tendency toward violence as a futile means to resolve differences.  Every war, as has been said, represents the failure of reason. That we should begin a new millennium with a preemptive war half a world away is a sad commentary on our present and our future.

Operation Dragoon from the Front Lines

72 years ago, Allied forces invaded Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon, pushing the German forces back into the Vosges Mountains. Originally conceived to be executed in tandem with the better-known Operation Overlord, Dragoon was overwhelming successful. Along with the German retreat, the important and strategic port of Marseilles was liberated by the Allies.

Aboard the U.S.N. transport General George O. Squier, surgeon Paul A. Kennedy was on watch—4 am to 8 am—as, “Naval guns [were] throwing salvo after salvo into the beach area,” at Le Dramont Plage.

kennedyComps.inddAs a member of the US Army’s 2nd Auxiliary Surgical Group, Kennedy spent thirty-four months working in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany, and participated in some of the fiercest action of the war—Operation Avalanche, the attack on Anzio, and entered the Dachau concentration camp two days after it was liberated, and 72 years ago, Operation Dragoon.

From the beginning of 1944 until the end of the war, he kept a medical journal in which he meticulously recorded and illustrated 355 of these cases. He also kept a personal diary and took more than 1,500 photographs, most of which were developed and carefully labeled, but never printed. Below, in an excerpt from Battlefield Surgeon, Kennedy’s diary describes the wait before Dragoon, the confusion of landing, and the routine of setting up a mobile surgical hospital.

 Thursday, August 10, 1944

Aboard the U.S.N. transport General George O. Squier

Had a poor night last night—the British right behind us drank scotch ’til all hours. Up at dawn to start a long wait ’til noon. Had cold meat and beans for breakfast. Large truck convoy to Naples and the docks—greeted there at 1:00 by the Red Cross with doughnuts and lemonade (pretty good). Ship is a new navy transport (2,500 troops) and the accommodations excellent, much to our surprise. Room for 18 but only 10 of us in it. Had a saltwater bath (hot and filthy dirty when we boarded), then later had an excellent dinner. (Another real surprise—we expected C rations.) I’m certain where we’re going but we’ll see—and it won’t take long to get there.

Friday, August 11, 1944

On ship—

Pulled away from the harbor of Naples and sailed across the bay to Castelammare, where we’re lying at anchor with other transports and L.S.T.s (Landing Ship, Tank), most of them combat loaded. Weather still hot but cloudy—rained hard last night. Meals still excellent and ship more comfortable than anyone expected. (They sell ice cream on board here that is excellent and there seems to be plenty of it.) (The navy lives right!) Still lots of speculation as per usual as to where we’re going. I got a job assigned to me—a watch from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Paul A Kennedy

Surgeon Paul A. Kennedy

Saturday, August 12, 1944

On ship

Still just off Castelammare sitting in a blazing hot sun and minding the heat more all the time. Up at 4 a.m. to sit out watch from then ’til 8 a.m.—a long four hours in a dark hatch filled with sweating soldiers. Fortunate your sense of smell tires after a time and you smell nothing. Eating two meals a day with sandwich at noon, and the food continues excellent. Reading—on my bunk, on deck, a saltwater shower, ice cream, more speculation—signs!! The L.S.T.s pulled out this evening—a sign we may go tonight or early tomorrow. This waiting is difficult, particularly for something that might be disastrous.

Sunday, August 13, 1944

At sea Up for my watch at 4 a.m. to find us still at anchor. My watch interrupts my sleep no end. To Mass and Communion at 9 a.m. Pulled anchor and sailed at 1300 hours—all the transports that were around us plus a few line ships. Speed pretty good—must be 18 knots—wasn’t long before we were at sea. Four hours out all C.O.s were briefed on the mission, but we’ve not been enlightened as yet. Our general guess was right. Got my money back in francs—13 500-franc notes. A Grumman Wildcat  zoomed past us—there are many carriers in the vicinity, so the story goes. But you can hear anything you want on the ship.

Monday, August 14, 1944

At sea—on eve of D-day.

What I feel—the million things that are running thru my mind would more than fill this page. What happens tomorrow can be so disastrous in so many ways. I hope and pray that all goes well.

The day has been very quiet. More ships have joined us—battlewagons among them, other transports, but we can see only a small part of the task force. There’s no great excitement among the men though they know as well as anyone that tomorrow may be their end. The morale is good and most everyone feels that only success will be ours. I’m sure it will but I’m not sure of the price.

Tuesday, August 15, 1944

Le Dramont Plage on the Riviera

Things started to happen at 5:30 this morning while I was on my watch. Naval guns throwing salvo after salvo into the beach area. At 7 it stopped, and heavy bombers in waves of 36 each then came out of the southwest and hit the beach area. Just before the first assault wave went in to land at 8:00, ships mounting hundreds of rockets “peppered” the beach. We landed at H 10 riding from our transport 15 miles out on an L.C.I. (Landing Craft Infantry). Uneventful ride in—landed on green beach. Things seemed a bit confused—100 prisoners waiting on the beach to be taken out to a ship.

They were shelling the beach occasionally so we got out of there (loaded down) and found a bivouac area for the night on the side of a hill overlooking this little town. At 9 p.m., just at dusk, a Jerry plane came in from the east and when it was still 1,000 yards from the beach it released a robot radio-controlled bomb which flew just ahead of the plane and then gracefully slid downward and hit an L.S.T. square on the bridge. Flames and a terrific explosion and the L.S.T. burned and exploded all night. Four Long Toms were on it plus lots of ammunition.

No other ships lost. There were three other beaches but news from there is scarce tonight. 155s are just below us and are firing over us—the noise is terrible—that plus the ack-ack would wake the dead. We’re right in the middle of it too and the flak falls too close. I’ve got my bed laid out in a ditch with a door lying crossways over my head. Here’s where an air mattress comes in mighty handy.

I’ve landed on D-day and I’m all in one piece, thank God. Things seem to be going well although they’re only six miles from the water as yet. There was little resistance here, and with the way the Normandy front is going I think we’ll meet little.

Wednesday, August 16, 1944

In a villa on the French Riviera just east of San Raphael. Had a good night in spite of the noise, et al. Explored the countryside this morning, and this place looks like a war hit it all of a sudden. I can see that it was a beautiful place in peacetime—villas all overlooking the sea—small coves that seem to be separate little lakes hidden from everything, war included. Saw Jerry pillboxes dotting the hill that naval shells blasted out of existence.

The L.S.T. still burning. Many prisoners in the 36 Division P.O.W.enclosures. Not looking too happy.

Progress is good. The 155s have moved up some and we have a house to sleep in. Tomorrow we’re setting up six miles from here on a golf course.

On the Road to Le Muy via Battlefield Surgeon by Paul A Kennedy

On the Road to Le Muy

Thursday, August 17, 1944

One mile south of Le Muy

Had another robot bomb thrown at the beach last night just after sunset. We could hear it roaring, getting closer all the time, and everyone dove for the floor—it hit the water and exploded. A 155 is just outside our yard and it fired a mission (15 rounds), almost making me deaf. We waited around all day to move and finally left at 3:00 in a 6 x 6—passed thru San Raphael, Frejus. French flags flying from every house—people all in a holiday mood waving to us.

More prisoners coming in; walking, in trucks, and all seem not too unhappy. Glider traps covered the fields hereabout—poles with barbed wire strung between them. We set up just a mile south of Le Muy. 11th Evac next door.

 Friday, August 18, 1944

Draguignan, France

Moved here this afternoon and set up immediately—patients already waiting. Clean-looking town and people much improved. The countryside is pretty. We passed a couple fields on the way here that had hundreds of broken-up gliders in them. Jerry had lots of glider traps around.

Jerry had cleared out of here yesterday, so you see even the medics are close on his heels. There’s a building right behind us that a shell hit this morning—it’s still burning and fires are burning on the hill just ahead of us. Did one Jerry belly this evening.

Saturday, August 19, 1944

Patients have been nil all day. I guess nobody is getting seriously wounded.

The advance is still rapid and the news from Normandy is excellent—the Jerry 7th Army is in rout. Went into Draguignan this morning to look around. No war damage worth mentioning—people all very cordial and seem honestly pleased that we are here. One fellow who could talk English said that the Germans were correct but not nice—the Americans are nice. Bought some perfume for Marion and a French book for Paulie.

They have beer here in this town but in no way does it resemble our beer. Hospital is moving in a.m. but we’re staying behind as a holding company.