There Are Worlds, and There Are Worlds

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A brief on AMC's new series:

AMC has officially given a 10-episode series order to Hell On Wheels, the post-Civil War drama (which we previously told you about) set during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and those uncertain years immediately following emancipation. But aside from providing a big, steam-powered metaphor for America building its own railway to the future out of blood, sweat, and racially-charged tears, Hell On Wheels is at its heart a vengeance story about an ex-Confederate rebel hunting the Union soldiers who killed his wife, as well as a gritty Western that takes place in the lawless, eponymous traveling camp of the title.

I will probably--probably--skip this series.  Perhaps I haven't seen the story of "an ex-Confederate rebel hunting the Union soldiers who killed his wife." But somehow, I think I have. What I have not seen is Willy Parker at Christiana, Moses along the railroad, the awesome Ellen Craft, or the ballad of Robert Charles

These are our stories, our magic. And surely it must said that the ultimate responsibility for preserving that magic falls to us. I don't so much begrudge people for honoring their own particular magic, so much as I recognize it is of their world, and I do not have to live in it. We must seek out our own.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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