Reporting to the Generalissimo's Tent


by Andy Hall

Quick introduction. I'm in my mid-40s, married with a small family. I live on the Gulf Coast where, contrary to the normal laws of math and physics, humidity frequently goes higher than 100 percent. In person I look a little like Rubeus Hagrid, but with a better barber. My educational background is in history and museum work, but now I work on the research side of higher education. (The tower I work in is made of ivory-colored cement, not actual ivory.) I'm on vacation this week anyhow, and nothing I post here should be considered to represent the views or positions of my employer -- not that I think they're remotely interested in the first place. My politics are left-of-center, although I've now lost track of whether that makes me a liberal, a progressive or a marxist. It's so hard to keep track these days. I do not have an original, hospital-issued, long-form birth certificate, so my citizenship may be a matter of dispute. I blog at the badly-neglected Maritime Texas and Dead Confederates.

Because I will be posting a good bit on the Civil War, some additional disclosure may be in order. Apart from a few folks who lost the map and ended up in Missouri, all my family, on both sides, is from the South for five or six generations back. There are both Confederates and slaveholders back in my tree. I have no use for the Lost Cause or Confederate hagiography, and don't even get me started on that Confederates-as-Christian-warriors foolishness. Hopefully I'm doing something right, given that my dinky little Civil War blog had only been up nine days before it earned me a screeching, over-the-top, ad hominem denunciation from the neoconfederate League of the South.

I'm genuinely humbled that the Generalissimo asked me to contribute this week, and I hope my efforts may both be informative and generate some vigorous discussion. It is a tremendous honor share digital real estate with folks like Oliver Wang, Neil Drumming and Mark Kleiman. Fortunately, life has a wonderful way of keeping things in perspective. When TNC first asked me, I got a little braggy and told a co-worker I'd been asked to guest-blog at The Atlantic. Then I had to back up and explain what "guest," "blog" and "The Atlantic" were. The second co-worker I told couldn't stop giggling, because (it seems) "blogging" is a very funny word. I didn't bother telling a third person.

So welcome to the week, play nice, and don't feed the trolls.

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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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