The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 326
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
some little courage and leaves an author open to all sorts of outlandish
charges, some of which have been made by Eric Foner in the New York
Times (as a result of Bradford's attacks on Lincoln's motives), and in the
Wall Street Journal. Bradford's view of Honest Abe as a political figure
motivated by a mixture of expedience, Hamiltonian drive, and racial
prejudices is not really new, but expressed afresh gives mortal offense
to the advocates of the Lincoln legend. Similarly, Bradford's able de-
fense of his own thoughtful A Better Guide Than Reason cheers the
reader to hope that more rational approaches toward the phenomenon
of the American Revolution and the ideas that actuated the early pa-
triots in expressing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitu-
tion might be at hand.
When looked at as a whole, however, Remembering Who We Are is un-
even. Although it represents a sort of cross section of twenty years'
worth of writing, a number of the pieces included in this volume do not
impress as being either full-blooded or particularly perceptive. Some of
the inclusions are useful, some are not; some are fully developed, some
are not; some are well written, some are not. All, claim the author, are
held together by "a relentless distrust of ideology" (p. x). On this point
the reviewer will let the individual reader judge for himself.
But the heart of the book, and the passages that make the volume
well worth reading, deal not so much with polemics as with how many
of the ideas associated with the twentieth-century South relate to expe-
riences past and present. His essay on Richard M. Weaver, an often mis-
understood figure, stands out. Weaver died at the height of his powers,
tragically before being able to make clear his full brief for the South.
Weaver's abhorrence of depersonalization and his revulsion at the as-
sumptions of atomistic man are nicely delineated and related to the
mainstream of Southern agrarianism. In Weaver's mind the South, by
rejecting modernity, retained at least a facet of the conscience of the
nation, while the other areas of the country, by selling out to Mammon,
lost their directions. In a similar vein Bradford dissects some of the last
sober writings of William Faulkner and ends his analysis, with the Mis-
sissippian, on the reasonably hopeful note that "liberty and equality
may be brought from disparate value systems to abide together in
peace" (p. 133).
Remembering Who We Are is not an easy book to read. It was never in-
tended to be. It can be trivial and, almost in the same paragraph, pro-
found. It can be maddening, soothing, depressing, enervating. All of
which is to say in a roundabout way that it can rise to heights of an
original discourse on ideas. And that, readers, is no mean feat.
University of Georgia
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/379/: accessed June 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.