Actor Against Actor

What are the 10 greatest movies ever about the Civil War?

Since movies began, less than 40 years after the guns had fallen silent at Appomattox, Hollywood has churned out more than 700 Civil War-related films—nearly three times the number of movies about World War II. Most of them have stressed reunification, honoring the bravery of the soldiers on both sides, assigning no guilt, and declaring no true winner.

The Alamo Recaptured

If you want to visit the relic itself, you must go to San
Antonio. But to get the feel of what it was like for Crockett and Travis and the rest, you should drive west into the Texas prairie.

You can tell the difference with a single touch. The stone wall of the actual Alamo, in the center of downtown San Antonio, has a cool, clammy feel, due mostly to the surrounding skyscrapers and tourist attractions casting mountainous shadows over their new dominion. But the Brackettville “Alamo,” facing steady sun and wind-driven sand, is warm and gritty to the touch, and its solitude in the sandy prairie of South Texas gives a flavor that matches our expectations. Read more »

The Wimp Factor

A year ago we were in the midst of a presidential campaign most memorable for charges by both sides that the opponent was not hard enough, tough enough, masculine enough. That he was, in fact, a sissy. Both sides also admitted this sort of rhetoric was deplorable. But it’s been going on since the beginning of the Republic.

Just before George Bush announced his running mate in 1988, a one-liner going the rounds was that he should choose Jeane Kirkpatrick to add some machismo to the ticket. Until midway through the campaign the embarrassing “fact” about Bush, as revealed in a spate of jokes, cartoons, and anecdotes gleefully reported or generated by the press, was the candidate’s “wimpiness.” A wimp, of course, is effete, ineffectual, somehow unmanly. Real men, the diametrical opposite of wimps, are war heroes and government leaders, especially combat pilots and spy masters. But wait!Read more »