Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fighting Prophet

Hmm, I'll have to think about Anonymous' comment in my last post.

Meanwhile, a friend related to me that she was reading a rollicking good book that repeatedly made her laugh out loud. I thought that sounded nice, to read a passage that made you burst out laughing.

I had such a moment today. I am reading Sherman: Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis, copyright 1932. It's a fascinating book about a complex military man, an American hero (sorry Southerners).

Lewis describes General William Tecumseh Sherman when he was in his nervous, distracted phase early in the Civil War as he frenetically worked out his plans for command, when some people seriously considered him to be insane. Here's what made me laugh out loud on the subway when I read it:

Sherman was now entering upon that phase of his life when people would call him "queer." Absent-minded, [Kentucky legislator] Rousseau thought him as they stood at the railroad station near Maldraugh's Hill. Sherman, who was smoking incessantly, found that his cigar was no longer burning and asked a sergeant for a light. The soldier, who had just lit a fresh cigar, handed it to the general, who used it to kindle his own cheroot, then threw it into the dirt. Rousseau broke out laughing but Sherman remained preoccupied.

Isn't that a hoot? Isn't that gorgeous writing?

Or how about this passage:

Excoriating a reporter who had written that the general's manners were like those of a Pawnee Indian, Sherman was angered still further, a few days later, to read that the correspondent had apologized not to him, but to the Pawnee Indians.

Good stuff.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

I think the word "excoriate" needs to be used a lot more than it is - it's not a positive word, but it a good word!