There are places where history is so evident that its presence is near dimensional. Like height, width, and depth its existence is both natural and conspicuous. These places do not invoke a sense of nostalgia, the living have no direct involvement with events there. They, instead, invoke a sense of relevance. They stand as witness to peoples and events of significant bearing, and a special few hold relevance across multiple eras. Shepherdstown, WV occupies the center of such a place.
Many of America’s second generation of political/ military leaders experienced the American Revolution as children. Some incubated in the new nation’s political environment through their connection to family members who served as leaders during the Revolutionary period, the Confederation era, or during the early days of the Republic. Such was the case for Robert Barraud Taylor, of Norfolk, Virginia. Taylor’s services to his nation include stints as a military commander, a jurist, and as a politician. He was accomplished at each.
Although cliché, it is certainly true that history is the story of intersecting paths. History’s best stories are those whose various character paths originate at points most divergent from each other. One such story occurred in Austria during the final days of World War II. In his book The Last Battle, Stephen Harding successfully informs not only to the historical significance of the point of intersect (the battle); he also relates the backstories (the paths), of the participating characters.
As I read Here Lies Hugh Glass, by Jon T. Coleman, I was reminded of the brilliant but underachieving genius who turned 20 pages of original material into a two hundred-page book. Somehow, he made it entertaining. So, what do you do when you have one primary source? What do you do with multiple, but unreliable, secondary sources? Coleman provides the answer.