"America needed its great war of brothers," wrote Bruce Catton, "to weld in a terrible fire what had been and what might be. The story of the war needs retelling because it helped to change the future of the human race." The Civil War is America's great Iliad, and few would dispute that its outcome is evident in most social and political issues today. For a person seeking a single volume to serve as a captivating introduction and dependable guide through all the maze of battles and issues of the Civil War, this is a book without parallel. Catton understood the Civil War, its participants and battles, and he unfolds it with skill and simplicity.
Bruce Cockburn is Canada's version of Richard Thompson, a brilliant folk-rock guitarist who also writes smart, acerbic lyrics about the twisted ways of modern society and modern romance. Never as vicious or as funny as Thompson, Cockburn is a more restrained, less obvious talent, but rewarding just the same. Dart to the Heart, free of political abstractions and filled with personal musings on love, is his best since 1985's World of Wonders. The first single, "Listen for the Laugh," is a boisterous hornªpowered rocker that insists good-naturedly that the surest sign of love is not sighing but laughter–and very specific sort of laughter, like "a chain saw in a velvet glove." That's a good description for Cockburn's guitar work, too, for he keeps it buried behind his deep, sleepy vocals, but if you listen closely you can hear just how his picking chews up chords and sends notes flying in all directions.