Back to the Local

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Illustrations by Edward Ardizzone from Back to the Local (1949) by Maurice Gorham, a loving memoir about English public houses (pubs). An earlier volume, The Local, came out just as World War II was starting. The publisher’s building was bombed out in the Blitz; all of the plates and unsold copies of The Local were lost. So, after the war, Gorham and Ardizzone wrote and illustrated the book again, from scratch, and called it Back to the Local.

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Color plates from Our Naval War with Spain (1898) by James Rankin Young

New York








PM General

On July 11, 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early took over “Silver Spring,” the Maryland home of U.S. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, as headquarters for his army, a force bent on invading Washington in the third and last such attempt of the Civil War. General Early smoked Blair’s cigars, drank his wine and the next day, before retreating, burnt down his house.


“I do not wish to injure the captain by mentioning his name. He probably acted according to his lights, which were dull.”

— James D. Bulloch in The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe (1881)



“I had little doubt that the majority of German people would swallow these idiotic lies. After all my time in this Nazi cuckooland, I still found it profoundly depressing to see a people so easily deceived.”

— William L. Shirer, reflecting on Hitler’s New Year’s proclamations, January 1940, in 20th Century Journey: The Nightmare Years, 1930-1940.

Photo: Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, at a League of Nations Assembly, Geneva, Switzerland, 1933, by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Out of School

“Those slaves of mine were worth to me a year ago, seventeen thousand dollars and there was some young ones among them who increased in value every day. My yearly income from them was not less than $2000 to $2500. I could afford to send you and your sister to expensive schools. This income is stopped, and God knows when it will begin again. I am obliged to use strictest economy, turn a penny a dozen times before I spend it. This loss of our slaves forces me to take Mary from school… as I cannot make enough to pay her school bills.”

— Christian Boye, merchant of St. Augustine, Florida, who lost fifteen slaves to the Union contraband policy, writing to his son, September 23, 1862. Quoted in Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida (2010) by Daniel L. Schafer

Tea & Letters

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Fortunino Mantania was an Italian artist, living in London, who worked as an “allied war artist” during World War I, with most of his work being published in The Sphere. Above, British officers having afternoon tea in a ruined farm house in Ypres, and below, a soldier writes a Christmas letter to his family, using an ammunition box as a desk.

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From Goodbye, Old Man: Mantania’s Vision of the First World War (2014) by Lucinda Gosling.