Mark C. Carnes wrote our article “Hollywood History” after he finished editing a new collection of essays on the subject by sixty noted historians, Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies (Henry Holt, 304 pages). The book looks considerably further back than the founding of our Republic: It opens with Stephen Jay Gould’s critique of the evolutionary science in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park . My Darling Clementine , John Ford’s inspired 1946 interpretation of the Wyatt Earp story that John Mack Faragher calls the best of the lot, is available on video (CBS-Fox Video).
The story of shanghaiing days, evoked so frighteningly in David Neal Keller’s article, sadly has almost no available literature. For a full account of the rest of a nineteenth-century sailor’s life, though, try Rites & Passages: The Experience of American Whaling, 1830–1870 , by Margaret Creighton (Cambridge, 520 pages). It draws heavily on the surviving journals of sailors and makes a convincing case that the life could be miserable even for those who volunteered. Geoffrey C. Ward’s September “Life and Times” column is about the men who conspired to loose the apocalyptic zealot John Brown on the world at Harpers Ferry, as described in a first-rate new history, The Secret Six: The True Tale of the Men Who Conspired With John Brown , by Edward J. Renehan, Jr. (Crown, 302 pages).