Thursday, February 23, 2012

Private Yankee Doodle

Private Yankee Doodle: Being a narrative of some of the adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a revolutionary soldier
by Joseph Plumb Martin

Joseph Plumb Martin (November 21, 1760 – May 2, 1850) was an American Revolutionary War soldier who published an account of his experiences as a soldier in the 8th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army in 1830.

Martin's narrative of the war has been frequently cited by scholars as an excellent primary source for the American Revolution. It is notable that Martin was a mere private in the army, and his account does not involve the usual heroes of the Revolution. His narrative is considered one of the major primary sources for historians, researchers and reinactors of the American Revolution. Scholars believe that Martin kept some type of journal during the course of the war, and fleshed it out in detail later on in his life. It is interesting to also note that while some events may be dramatized, the narrative is remarkably accurate, since Plumb Martin's regiment would have been present at every event he writes about, according to war records of the time.

Martin's narrative was originally published anonymously in 1830, at Hallowell, Maine, as A narrative of some of the adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a Revolutionary soldier, interspersed with anecdotes of incidents that occurred within his own observation. It has been republished in many forms, but was thought lost to history. In the mid-1950s, a first edition copy of the narrative was found and donated to Morristown National Historical Park. The book was published again by Little, Brown in 1962, in an edition edited by George F. Scheer (ISBN 0-915992-10-8) under the title Private Yankee Doodle; as well as appearing as a volume in Series I of The New York Times' Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution in 1968. The current edition, published since 2001, is entitled A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quiet Odyssey

Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America
by Mary Paik Lee
edited by Sucheng Chan

Lee's indomitable spirit pervades this absorbing autobiography spanning much of the 20th century. Born in 1900, the author left Korea in 1905 with her family, as political refugees. Among the earliest Korean immigrants to America, they settled in California, where they faced a constant struggle for the bare necessities, living wherever Lee's father could find work, often as an agricultural laborer. In addition to economic adversity, Lee often encountered racism. Determined to attend high school, she endured lectures about "stinking Chinks and dirty Japs." After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she had to stop three teenagers from striking her child. Even such unreasoned hatred could not break Lee who, from the perspective of the 1980s, sees in her children's successes the triumph of a century of cultural change. Chan, author of This Bittersweet Soil and a professor of history and Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara, supplements the memoir with historical background. Her notes help make this brief, accessible volume a worthwhile addition to the scholarship on Asian American culture.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Achieving Our Country

Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America
by Richard Rorty

Achieving Our Country is a book by American philosopher Richard Rorty. In this book, Rorty differentiates between what he sees as the two sides of the Left, a critical Left and a progressive Left. He criticizes the critical Left, which is exemplified by post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault and post-modernists such as Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard. Although these intellectuals make insightful claims about the ills of society, Rorty holds that they provide no alternatives and even present progress as problematic at times. On the other hand, the progressive Left, exemplified for Rorty by John Dewey, makes progress its priority in its goal of "achieving our country." Rorty sees the progressive Left as acting in the philosophical spirit of pragmatism.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"16 Rules for Investment Success"

"16 Rules for Investment Success"
by Sir John Templeton

In 1993, Sir John Templeton wrote an article that first appeared in the magazine “World Monitor: The Christian Science Monitor Monthly”, entitled “16 Rules for Investment Success”. Here is Sir John’s list, with some commentary about each point and how it relates to what we are experiencing in the financial world today:

"Success in the stock market is based on the principle
of buying low and selling high. Granted, one can
make money by reversing the order—selling high
and then buying low. And there is money to be made
in those strange animals, options and futures. But,
by and large, these are techniques for traders and
speculators, not for investors. And I am writing as a
professional investor, one who has enjoyed a certain
degree of success as an investment counselor over
the past half-century—and who wishes to share
with others the lessons learned during this time."