The Civil War Origins of Memorial Day

Three years after the Civil War ended, the head of an organization of Union veterans—the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)—established “Decoration Day” as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead. It is believed that the last Monday in May was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

However, springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places as early as 1866. On April 25 of that year, a group of women in Columbus, Mississippi visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in the battle of Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed by the sight of these bare graves, the women placed flowers on them as well.

MacEnany.inddIn 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff.

150 years later, in honor of the Civil War origins of Memorial Day, we present an illuminating conversation with Brian McEnany, author of For Brotherhood and Duty: The Civil War History of the West Point Class of 1862:

Why did you feel particularly drawn to the West Point Class of 1862?
I was initially drawn to this class because it graduated 100 years before my own. While researching old musty cadet records and books at the archives at West Point for a reunion project, I became interested in Civil War politics and the cadet life of this class. I found stories and records of an extraordinary group of young men. Not finding much written about West Point classes after the start of the Civil War, I decided to write a book to fill that gap in history.

What was the most surprising thing you uncovered about this unique group of soldiers?
That is a hard question to answer. Regular army promotions were very slow during the war. There were questions raised in my mind about why this class did not have more transfers into volunteers to increase their chances for promotion. Secondly, the reputation of the Military Academy suffered greatly because of the large number of resignations of southern cadets—not a lot of people know that.

Can you talk a bit about why so many cadets from this class felt they had to resign from West Point before graduation?
Lincoln’s election followed by multiple changes in the superintendent and the commandant, resignations of officer instructors, as well as cadets led half this class to resign by the end of the summer of 1861. Their reasons were rooted in very strong state allegiances, colored mostly by friends, family, and politicians who appointed them as well as other cadets from the same state. It left little room for independent thought on the matter. Their letters were particularly poignant. One cadet from another class wrote to his mother that he resigned because he couldn’t sign his name to the oath of allegiance to the Union—he felt no one from the South could.

How did resignation like that affect the remaining cadets?
While they continued to focus on academics in preparation for graduation, their class motto, “Joined in a Common Cause,” shows they were strongly committed to the restoration of the Union.

Do you think the confusion and desolation of war may have led to their stories being overlooked?
I’ve found that most books and articles about the Civil War at West Point only focus on members of the May and June classes of 1861. Books about the other classes (1862–65) have not been written. My book is the first one published about another class that graduated during the war.

Can you talk a bit about the service records of the various cadets throughout the war?
The hardest task was to track the actual units they were assigned to—something that is not carried in their personnel records. I researched microfilm files of old newspaper articles and unit muster reports and found cadet, mid-career, and obituary pictures before I could write a biography for each member of the class. Promotions were very slow. Only the engineers and ordnance officers made captain during the war. The rest remained first lieutenants with the exception of four that went into volunteer service. One rose to Major General (Ranald Mackenzie), one was awarded the Medal of Honor (George Gillespie) many years later, one ex-member (Henry Farley) fired the first shot at Fort Sumter, and one classmate (William Bartlett) at the end of the war took the surrender of the last Confederate units in the eastern theater.

Who do you think was the standout from the class and why?
Ranald Mackenzie for sure. He graduated first in the class and rose to the rank of Major General US Volunteers during the war. He was in the right place at the right time; picked to lead an infantry regiment, he made a name for himself. Even Grant called him “a most promising officer.” Stern disciplinarian, an able tactical leader, brave to the point of recklessness; he was wounded six times during the war. He became a brigade commander, then commander of a cavalry division in the Army of the James. That division became part of Sheridan’s command during the Shenandoah Campaign and Lee’s Retreat. Mackenzie became more renowned after the Civil War. This was the Mackenzie that chased the Apaches into Mexico, and a 1950s TV show called Mackenzie’s Raiders even touted his exploits. He likely would have outshone Custer in history if he had lived long enough, but he died early. Others in the class were equally brave; 24 of the 28 were brevetted for gallantry, and one was awarded the Medal of Honor.

From these accounts, were you able to tell if any of these classmates felt remorse for attacking their fellow cadets during the war? Or was their dedication to their cause more important?
There were several incidents where classmates faced classmates on the battlefield. Sometimes, they were unaware of the other’s presence. At other times, they knew. Virginian James Dearing, an artillery man who commanded the guns in Pickett’s division, fired at Tully McCrea and John Egan at Gettysburg. At the end of the war, Mackenzie found Dearing lying, mortally wounded, in a hospital in Lynchburg just after Lee surrendered and made sure he was well taken care of. Morris Schaff ran into others after the war and wrote that there was no animosity shown. The bottom line is that I do not think they carried any bad feelings with them—the brotherhood endured.

What is the biggest thing you hope people take away from For Brotherhood and Duty?
For Brotherhood and Duty is all about memories, personal relationships and experiences.  What I hope is that people will remember those stories so that the next time they visit a battlefield they recall a real person and his story about that particular campaign or battle.


Summer Under the Stars: Bob Hope

Bob Hope, one of Hollywood’s greatest and most beloved entertainers, could do it all—sing, act and dance—but what he loved most was comedy, and he went on to make an entire nation laugh for generations.

One of his greatest fans was author Ron Miller who, during his 22 years as a TV columnist, had many opportunities to chat with the star of stage and screen. In our recent release, Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood’s Golden Era, Miller includes an illuminating compilation of his various talks with the acclaimed entertainer.

To commemorate what would have been Bob Hope’s 113th birthday, we’re sharing an excerpt from his interview:

Setting the Scene

Bob Hope 1

Publicity photo, circa 1940. Photo via Wikipedia.

Born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, Bob Hope immigrated to the U.S. from London as a child. He began his show business career in vaudeville which helped develop his skills as a joke teller and master of ceremonies. He appeared on Broadway and in movie shorts as a comic actor. In 1938 he became the star of his own radio show, The Pepsodent Show, and the rapid delivery of his comic lines garnered popularity and made him an overnight sensation. That same year he was signed to Paramount Pictures and made his feature film debut in The Big Broadcast of 1938 with W.C. Fields.


He went on to star in a number of films, most notably The Road to Singapore (1940) with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, which launched a series of “road” movies. He hosted the Academy Awards ceremonies 18 times, and became one of the most popular USO entertainers with a number of overseas tours to combat zones during WWII and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The Interview

MILLER: You’re such an iconic symbol of America around the world that it’s often hard to believe you came here as an immigrant from England. Tell me about it.

HOPE: My uncle, Frank Hope, came over first. Then we all got on the boat–in steerage–and took off. I was four years old. They wanted to vaccinate me at Ellis Island, but I wouldn’t let them. I ran all over the place. I think I was a little mischievous.

MILLER: Your dad was a stonemason. Was he a good one?

HOPE: There’s a bridge in Cleveland with a sign saying “Built by Harry Hope.” It connects the east side with the west side. It’s still standing, so I guess he was good enough.

MILLER: I’ve read a good deal about how tough it was at first for you becoming a success in show business. What was the turning point for you?

HOPE: I always go back to 1928 when I was standing in front of the Woods Theater building in Chicago. I couldn’t book a date. I was getting $10 a show in those days and stood there looking over at Henrisi’s Restaurant, which had an open window. I could see them eating in there and I’m starving. And I was thinking, “I’ve got to go back to Cleveland, get my laundry done and get a fresh start.”  That’s when a guy I knew, Charlie Cooley, says, “Hey, what’re you doing?”

He took me upstairs to a booker who got me one day at the West Inglewood Theater for $25, which was more money than I’d ever made. From that booking, I got a booking at the Stratford, where they were using a permanent M.C. for shows and pictures. I stayed there six months. When I came out of there, I could do anything.

[. . .]

MILLER: Your biggest break up to then came when you were signed to play one of the leading roles in the Broadway show Roberta by Jerome Kern. I imagine you were doing pretty well with the ladies by that time, too.

HOPE: I felt like I had every girl in New York. I was running around with every girl in the chorus, all these beautiful dames. But one night, my pal George Murphy, talked me into catching the act of what he called “a real good-looking singer” over at the Vogue Club. Her name was Dolores Reade. It was love at first sight. I just kept going back again and again to see her act.

MILLER: So you started going out?

Hope and Crosby

Bob Hope (right), Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in the Road to Morocco (1942). Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

HOPE: Pretty soon I was just sitting in the car with her in front of her hotel and talking. That was fatal. One night she finally had time off and attended a performance of Roberta. I was shocked to see her walk right by my dressing room after the show, completely ignoring me. She wouldn’t even stop and talk to me.

MILLER: What was that about?

HOPE: She was so embarrassed because she didn’t know I was one of the stars of the show. She thought I was just a chorus boy.

MILLER: I guess she got over it.

HOPE: Well, we were married soon afterward.

MILLER: Between 1934 and 1938, you made eight movie short subjects, but things didn’t really boom for you until you were signed by Paramount. Your first feature was The Big Broadcast of 1938 and it gave you your signature song, Thanks For the Memory, which won the Best Song Oscar. Tell me about that.

HOPE: The whole thing was an accident. Paramount wanted Jack Benny for the part in the movie, but he was 43 and thought he was too old to play the juvenile lead in a picture. And I don’t think he wanted to be second-billed to W.C. Fields.  So, he turned down the part and Paramount had to find somebody else.

I was then working on Broadway in The Ziegfeld Follies. In that show, I introduced the song I Can’t Get Started. Everybody thinks it was Bunny Berrigan’s song because he cut the record. But I introduced it, singing it to a beautiful redhead who turned out to be Eve Arden. Anyway, the movie director Mitch Leisen saw me in the show and was impressed that I could sing as well as do light comedy.

MILLER: Are you telling me Jack Benny might have wound up singing Thanks For the Memory instead of you?

HOPE: I don’t think they intended him to sing anything because Jack didn’t sing much. I think Leisen probably decided to add the song for the two juvenile leads to sing once they signed Shirley Ross and me.

MILLER: When did you learn you were going to sing it?

HOPE: When I arrived at Paramount on September 7, 1937, I went over to the music department and they asked if I wanted to hear the new song I was going to sing. I said, “Sure,” and they played me Thanks for the Memory. I loved it right away, but I took it home and played it for Dolores and she said, “I don’t think that’s much!” I think she was a little hasty.

MILLER: When the song won the Oscar, it went to the composers, Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, but it became your theme song. How did that come about?

HOPE: I began my radio show for Pepsodent (toothpaste) in September of 1938 and I needed a theme song. It hadn’t won the Oscar yet, but it was the automatic choice for me.

MILLER: You’ve told me before that you’ve sung it on every radio show since, every TV show, in just about every live performance and even in another movie (Thanks for the Memory, 1938). But you’ve almost always changed the lyrics to suit the times. How did the composers react to that?

HOPE: They loved it. After all, they got royalties every time it was played — and still do.

Bob Hope 2

Hope entertains soldiers during WWII. Photo via Wikipedia.

[. . .]

MILLER: One of the primary reasons why you’re so widely loved today must be the tremendous time you put in entertaining the troops. But you did take some flak for doing it during the really unpopular war in Vietnam and defending our being there.

HOPE: If I hadn’t gone over there, I’d have felt pretty awful. Those kids needed shows more than anyone else because they were just sitting around wondering what the hell was going on. It was a miserable, miserable situation. There was nothing different about Vietnam when it came to entertaining troops. I was doing the same thing there I was doing in other places. I wasn’t running for office or anything.

MILLER: Lots of people thought the Academy Awards would have to shut down once you stopped hosting the ceremony. Do you miss that job?

HOPE: No, not really. I did it for so long.

[. . .]

MILLER: Of all the pictures you’ve made, which is your favorite?

HOPE: If The Paleface is on, I’ll take a look at it. And I really like The Seven Little Foys.

[. . .]

MILLER: At this stage of your life, it must be very rewarding to feel the genuine love the public has for you.

HOPE: I sure do appreciate that. I feel that from people I meet. I imagine it comes from the things we did like entertaining the troops all those years. Most people had relatives or knew someone who was over there.  I’ve had some wonderful things happen that make me feel good about my life. Like the time when I had this bad eye problem and it looked as if I might have to lose an eye. And this young Marine said, “I’ll give him one of my eyes.”

MILLER: If you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?

HOPE: No. I couldn’t be that lucky all over again.


Bob Hope had a lot of projects on the burner in his final years, including a final “Road” movie with Bing Crosby which was canceled once Crosby died. His final starring role in a feature film was in 1972’s Cancel My Reservation, but he did star in a final made-for-TV movie, 1986’s A Masterpiece of Murder, playing an over-the-hill private eye. Hope had wanted to live to be one hundred — and he did. He died in his sleep at his home in Toluca Lake on July 27, 2003. He was one hundred years old.


A Rose by Any Other Name: The Surprising Stories Behind Kentucky Weeds

Weeds of KentuckyHere at the University Press of Kentucky, we recently finished digitizing over 1000 books dating back to our founding in 1943. It’s a lot of work going through all those books, but it’s been a process full of fun surprises and astounding discoveries. Best of all, every now and then, there’s a book that we can’t put down—a book so good we just can’t resist sharing it with you again:

As Shakespeare’s Juliet once said, “[T]hat which we call a rose/
By any other name would smell as sweet,” and no book in our catalog demonstrates what’s really in a name as beautifully as Patricia Haragan’s Weeds of Kentucky and Adjacent States: A Field Guide.

In Kentucky, where commercial agriculture is so important, some of the plants that were prized by our ancestors are considered nuisances today due to the harm they inflict on crops and livestock. In this informative and surprising book, Patricia Haragan not only provides a guide for identifying these plants, but reveals the cultural and natural history behind each. Here are some of our favorites—from the poisonous weed that allegedly killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother to the ivy that was once indispensable to brewmasters. Click on the illustrations below for longer descriptions:

The next time you go out to weed your garden or yard, maybe you’ll recognize some of these plants from their mug shots. Pick up a copy of Weeds of Kentucky and Adjacent States to learn about other interesting plants you may have overlooked.

Rosy Twisted Stalk

Top Ten Disappearing Flora of Kentucky

9780813124964Kentucky, known for its rich soil and temperate climate, is the perfect location for a stunning growth of diverse and beautiful flora. However, due to climate and land use changes, these flowers are quickly disappearing. In Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky, Thomas G. Barnes, Deborah White, and Marc Evans write to spread awareness and promote environmental preservation. Here is a list of the top ten endangered wildflowers in the state, with some even endangered on the national level:

  1. Large-leaf grass of Parnassus

    Large-Leaf Grass-of-Parnassus

    Rosy twisted stalk (image featured at the top of this post)— Rosy twisted stalk is known only from Black Mountain, an area of the highest elevation in the state and home to many rare plants and natural communities. The flowers of the plant hang from its stem like bells.

  1. Sweet fern—The sweet fern is a low-growing shrub, not a fern, despite what the name suggests. The fern is known for its fragrant odor. It can be found only near the Big South Fork River.

    Cumberland Rosemary

    Cumberland Rosemary

  1. Large-leaf grass-of-parnassus—This grass-of-parnassus species is found in wetland seeps and has fewer than three locations in Kentucky, all near the southern border of the state.
  1. Cumberland rosemary—Cumberland rosemary, a member of the mint family, only grows in sandy river deposits among boulders. It is endangered in Kentucky and federally threatened.
  1. Rose pogonia orchid—The rose pogonia orchid is one of nineteen endangered plants located in Bad Branch, the deepest gorge of Pine Mountain.

    Copper Iris

    Copper Iris

  1. Copper iris—The copper iris, a regal-looking perennial plant with a reddish color, can only be found in the wetlands of far western Kentucky. It attracts the insects, hummingbirds, as well as gardeners.
  1. Dwarf sundew—The dwarf sundew, exclusive to a single region of southern Kentucky, is a mere inch or two tall and wide. To obtain nutrients, the sundew captures small insects on its sticky leaves.
  1. Grass pink orchid—The grass pink orchid has disappeared from several wetland sites in the last twenty years and is now known from only one location in the eastern part of the state.

    Blue-Flower Coyote-Thistle

    Blue-Flower Coyote-Thistle

  1. Royal catchfly—A striking red flower, the royal catchfly is pollinated by hummingbirds. This plant is found in prairies, and very little of this grassland habitat remains in the state.
  1. Blue-flower coyote-thistle—The blue-flower coyote-thistle of Western Kentucky has decreased due to changes in hydrology and land use. These flowers are characterized by their tiny flowers, similar to those of thistles.

Planning a Native Habitat Garden

Gardening for the Birds by Thomas G. BarnesDerby day is behind us, which means one thing in Kentucky: It’s time to get outside and garden! Many people are interested in landscaping to attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife to their backyards, but may be unsure about where to begin.

In Gardening for the Birds, Thomas G. Barnes offers tips that will help even novice gardeners use native plants to create attractive, low-maintenance habitat gardens for wildlife. Such landscaping, Barnes notes, can be as simple or as complex as the homeowner wants to make it. Today we’re sharing an excerpt from this classic book that outlines five simple steps for designing and planting a native wildflower garden:

Planning Your Garden

1. Determine the environmental conditions of your planting site. To reap all of the  conservation benefits of using native plants in the landscape, rely on species adapted to the environmental conditions of the planting site rather than trying to adapt the site to a set of pre-selected plants. You reduce labor and costs of site preparation, have much greater success, and minimize post-planting maintenance. As Ken Druse states in The Natural Habitat Garden, “Don’t fight the site.”

Depending on past land use, soils may need to be restored to make them capable of supporting native plants. Soils are often compacted and lack topsoil following construction activities. If the soil is inadequate, loosen it to improve aeration and drainage properties and replace lost nutrients before planting. Sites currently supporting landscape plants of any kind are probably capable of supporting native plants with little additional preparation.

Plan for a Butterfly Garden:Butterfly_Garden

2. Choose an appropriate natural community as a landscape model. A natural community is an assemblage of plants and animals that co-exist in nature because they have similar requirements for natural resources and are able to compete successfully with each other for those resources. A natural community is usually characterized by its plant and animal species. We can predict the type of natural community that will develop on a site based on climate, soils, topography, and other environmental conditions. Natural communities are excellent landscape models because they are self-sustaining and support a diversity of plant and animal species. Once you have defined the environmental conditions of your planting site, determine the natural community type that occurs under similar conditions in your region of Kentucky. Plants characteristic of that community will grow well in your habitat garden.

Although many types of natural communities exist in Kentucky, they can be classified generally as upland or lowland forests or prairies. Most of the Kentucky landscape originally was forested, and, in the absence of grazing and fire, most sites eventually regenerate to forest. Various management techniques such as mowing, grazing, or burning are needed to maintain open landscapes in most of Kentucky. For landscaping purposes, it is helpful to know the light and soil conditions common to forest and prairie communities.

In a natural forest, overstory trees create a canopy that filters the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor. The leaf canopy creates conditions of dappled shade and sunlight. In some forests, little direct sunlight reaches the forest floor. Shrubs and herbaceous plants that grow in a forest are adapted to varying levels of shade. In a deciduous forest, the floor receives full sun throughout the spring until the leaf canopy develops. This sun promotes new spring growth of ferns and wildflowers. A backyard with mature shade trees creates conditions of shade similar to that of a natural forest. In contrast, the shade on the north side of a building is a dense shade not desirable for most plants, but many native forest shrubs and wildflowers do fine in dense shade if drainage and air circulation are adequate.

Forest soils generally have a high organic content. Leaves, bark, stems, and other plant debris litter the forest floor each year and begin the process of decomposition that builds the forest soils. This process can be replicated in the backyard by mulching with leaf litter and amending the soil with compost, peat, or other organic materials.

In contrast to the forest, a prairie is an open grassland characterized by a high diversity of grass and wildflower species and few tree or shrub species. It is a more extreme environment than a forest because it receives full exposure to the sun and elements. Most prairie plants tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions and are drought-tolerant. The bluestem prairie, which once covered millions of acres in Kentucky, ranged from wet to dry. In a wet prairie, plants are generally tolerant of saturated soil conditions (soil at maximum water-holding capacity), but most are also able to withstand dry periods of varying lengths. In dry prairies or glades, plants are tolerant of well drained to excessively well drained soil conditions. These plants are highly drought-tolerant and excellent choices for xeriscaping (landscaping to conserve water).

Prairie soils vary greatly from one community to the next. Most prairie plants are extremely efficient at utilizing available soil nutrients and do not require highly fertile soils. Some prairie plants grow in shallow, rocky soils, but getting them established in such soils can be difficult.

It is critical that you minimize competition from cultivated grasses and agricultural weeds. Most prairie plants thrive in a good garden soil if competition is minimized. Fertilizing with nitrogen only promotes the growth of annual invasive weeds. If there is a severe deficiency of phosphorus or potassium or if the soil needs liming (as determined by a soil test), apply these fertilizers following soil test recommendations. If a site supports a lawn or a healthy growth of weeds, it should be adequate for growing most prairie plants.

If your site contains overstory trees and is shady much of the day, model your garden after a forest community. If the site receives six or more hours of direct sun, particularly during the hottest time of the day (late morning to late afternoon), a prairie community is a better model. If the site stays wet much of the growing season or is prone to seasonal flooding, a lowland community is appropriate. The savanna community (or barrens on drier upland sites) might be a suitable model for large sites or sites with some shade and some sun. A savanna is an open meadow with scattered individual trees or groves of trees and is very park-like in appearance.

It is possible to plant trees to create shadier conditions or remove trees to create sunnier conditions. Creating wooded conditions is a worthwhile, if long-term, process of great value to wildlife. Establishment of trees might be expensive, but maintenance is minimal. Any healthy, native tree should be considered a valuable landscape and wildlife asset. A single mature (30-foot-tall) hemlock tree purchased from a nursery can cost $12,000. A 60-year-old white oak is worth tens of thousands of dollars. Unless a tree is severely diseased or weedy and invasive (tree of heaven, for example), removal is not recommended. It is better to maintain existing trees whenever possible and convert already sunny sites to native prairie plants.

Hummingbird Garden:Butterfly_Garden

3. Create plant menus for each habitat garden. Create a menu of plant species for each landscape. Native plant nursery catalogs provide availability and cost information, and many contain detailed habitat and cultivation information for the species they offer. Consult a field guide or botanical book for more information and to see drawings or photographs of the species you intend to establish.

A plant menu can be a simple list of plant species but has more value if composed as a matrix containing functional and physical attributes for each species. Such information is crucial when you begin the landscape design process. Include plant type, sun tolerance, soil moisture tolerance, aesthetic characteristics (flowers and fruits, bark, form, autumn color), period of bloom, wildlife value, and potential uses (shade, evergreen screen, erosion control).

Rock Garden:Rock_Garden

4. Use diverse plants. Most wildflowers and other native plants have distinct flowering and fruiting periods that last a few weeks, rarely longer. For lots of color as well as nectar, fruit, and nut production, use a diversity of plant types (trees, shrubs, ground covers) and species. Diverse plant types provide assorted habitat elements that can be used by a variety of wildlife species. Select various species that bloom during spring, summer, and fall and plants that hold their fruits into winter. Native grasses provide good color in the garden in autumn and excellent wildlife cover in winter. In Kentucky, most forest wildflowers are spring-blooming, so add later-blooming species of woodland phlox, lobelia, aster, and goldenrod. Most prairie plants do not bloom until late spring. Some of the earliest bloomers include coreopsis, wood mint, sundrops, and downy phlox. Offering areas of both forest and prairie in your landscape provides year-round food and cover for wildlife.

5. Use clustering for enhanced beauty and wildlife value. Some wildflowers have large, showy flowers and can be used individually or in small groups with dramatic effect. Many wildflowers, however, are most attractive when planted in species clusters, or drifts. In nature, the most striking wildflower displays result from a tendency for species to grow in clumps. This tendency is influenced in large part by their methods of self-propagation and seed dispersal. Even in a garden, each species rearranges itself over time according to its own propagation patterns. One wild columbine is pretty for close-up viewing beneath a tree, but a drift of columbines in a wildflower border creates a solid block of color and texture visible from a distance. Planting species in clusters of several to dozens lends a natural quality and beauty to the landscape.

Clustering is also beneficial to wildlife. With the maximum amount of food in a single location, animals expend minimal energy to acquire it. Imagine the energy you would use if you had to go to one restaurant for an appetizer, another for the main course, and a third for coffee and dessert! Now think about a hummingbird—a bird with an extremely high metabolic rate—having to fly from one neighborhood to another just to find enough food for lunch. By planting large clusters of favorite foods (phlox, columbine, bee balm, cardinal flower) and hanging an artificial feeder or two you can feed many hummers with little effort on their part.

Thomas G. Barnes (1958–2014) was extension professor of forestry and wildlife specialist at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Gardening for the Birds, Kentucky’s Last Great Places, Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky, and Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky.


Books in Bloom

There is no moment or time of year in the Bluegrass State when one of more than 2,000 native wildflowers is not blooming. Although Kentucky has been called the “Land of Cane and Clover,” the Commonwealth is a geographical crossroads of North and South, East and West, and home to more than 3,000 species of diverse flora.

From butterfly-attracting blooms to wild orchids, here are some of the wildflowers that you may see blooming statewide this summer (via Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky by Thomas G. Barnes and S. Wilson Francis):

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Whether you’re interested in learning more about Kentucky’s diverse flora or just want to identify that pretty wildflower that sprang up in your backyard, look no further than the University Press of Kentucky’s selection of natural history books:


President Barack Obama speaks during a prime time news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Robert G. Kaufman responds to President Obama’s Foreign Policy Declarations in The Atlantic

In a recent cover story for The Atlantic, President Obama sought to define and clarify the foreign policy of his two terms in office. ‘The Obama Doctrine,’ as the article referred to it, is, in Robert G. Kaufman’s opinion, has damaged the US’s reputation abroad by  imprudently abandoning the muscular internationalism that has marked US foreign policy since the end of World War II. In a recent op-ed for The Daily Caller, Kaufman illuminates both the failings of the president’s “grand strategy,” and responds to the president’s own opinions in The Atlantic.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Daily Caller.

Judging from his recent lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, President Obama has learned nothing in the past seven years from the serious, serial failures of his foreign policy. Instead, Obama radiated a preternatural, delusional, and typical self-confidence expounding on the efficacy of his Obama Doctrine, which he has followed faithfully since 2009.

The Obama Doctrine combines the worst features of the  morally obtuse anti-war left, unrealistic realism, and naïve multilateralism. The president views the so-called arrogance of American power as a greater danger than the threats emanating from devils and dictatorships abroad. Likewise, Obama rejects American exceptionalism while routinely apologizing for American sins abroad, which he has exaggerated and often imagined. Like unrealistic realists, Obama  ignores the importance of ideology and regime type in identifying friends, foes, threats and opportunities. This fallacious premise explains why he eagerly engages virulently anti-American adversaries such as Putin in Russia, the militant mullahs of Tehran, the repressive, aggressive leadership in China bent on achieving hegemony rather than stability in the world’s most important geopolitical region, and Castro’s totalitarian tyranny in Cuba.

This accounts for the President’s unwillingness to admit that the danger of Islamism, choosing to conciliate rather than confront it. Obama’s persistent unwillingness to distinguish democratic friends from rogue regimes that are foes accounts for his default inclination initially to deem the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt a legitimate partner for peace rather than a mortal enemy of Israel implacably hostile to America’s legitimate interests.

The fallacy of moral equivalence between freedom and tyranny accounts for the president striving assiduously to put distance between the United States and decent democratic allies such as Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Also, his ill-advised decision to return the bust of Winston Churchill to Great Britain while denying the existence of an Anglo-American special relationship. Finally, Obama’s congenital obtuseness to democracy’s virtues and dictatorship’s vices accounts for his derelict  disinterest in nurturing the strategic partnership that President George W. Bush initiated presciently with a decent, democratic India sharing U.S. interests in defeating radical Islam and ensuring China faces a robust deterrent to its imperial ambitions.

. . .

Read more:

About the Book:

Dangerous Doctrine Robert G. Kaufman

“Robert Kaufman brilliantly establishes what a devastating failure his amateurish grab-bag of progressive policies have been in the three key regions of Russia-Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.”—Daniel Pipes, President, Middle East Forum

Much like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, President Barack Obama came to office as a politician who emphasized conviction rather than consensus. During his 2008 presidential campaign, he pledged to transform the role of the United States abroad. His ambitious foreign policy goals included a global climate treaty, the peaceful withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a new relationship with Iran. Throughout Obama’s tenure, pundits and scholars have offered competing interpretations of his “grand strategy,” while others have maintained that his policies were incoherent or, at best, ad hoc.

In Dangerous Doctrine, political scientist Robert G. Kaufman argues that the forty-fourth president has indeed articulated a clear, consistent national security policy and has pursued it with remarkable fidelity. Yet Kaufman contends that President Obama has imprudently abandoned the muscular internationalism that has marked US foreign policy since the end of World War II. Drawing on international relations theory and American diplomatic history, Kaufman presents a robust critique of the Obama doctrine as he situates the president’s use of power within the traditions of American strategic practice.

Focusing on the pivotal regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, this provocative study demonstrates how current executive branch leadership threatens America’s role as a superpower, weakening its ability to spread democracy and counter threats to geopolitical order in increasingly unstable times. Kaufman proposes a return to the grand strategy of moral democratic realism, as practiced by presidents such as Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, with the hope of reestablishing the United States as the world’s dominant power.

Robert G. Kaufman is professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. He is the author of Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics and In Defense of the Bush Doctrine.