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May 2024
1min read


The new Sherman letters…

Of the three great Civil War generals universally remembered today, he was perhaps more brilliant than either Grant or Lee. In fact, William Tecumseh Sherman may be said to have invented modern warfare. Now his restless spirit is revealed in extraordinary correspondence written in the heat of action and published for the first time in next month’s issue. Here is Sherman uneasily taking command of the Union forces in Kentucky at the outset of the war (“I never did like to serve with volunteers, because instead of being governed they govern …”); grieving the death of his little son (“Somehow by the accidents of life that have buffeted me about, this boy seemed to me more a part of myself than any other human being …”); cutting loose from his supply lines to roll through Georgia (”… Who clings to the land is deemed the less safe sailor. So in war.”) And throughout the correspondence runs his wild and eloquent fury—expressed in several amazing diatribes—against the newspapermen whose stories, laden with military secrets, were getting his soldiers killed.

Raiders of the lost city…

In 1911, after a long and arduous search, Hiram Bingham struggled through all but impenetrable jungle to discover Machu Picchu, the fabulous lost city of the Incas. Or so the story goes. Now Bingham’s son Alfred reveals —in an article that is both an adventure tale and a shrewd and affectionate psychological speculation—that what really happened may be less heroic, but no less colorful.

Two centuries behind bars …

Public officials call for building still more prisons while wardens find they can’t cope with the prisoners they’ve got, and almost nobody talks of rehabilitation any more. It all seems very bleak and unprecedented, but in fact we have been grappling with these problems for generations—ever since Americans invented the penitentiary. Roger Pray, a professional penologist, puts current problems in historical perspective.

Obsessed by local history …

While her fellow nineyear-olds were jumping rope and playing hide-and-seek, Annie Dillard was utterly besotted by the French and Indian War, which had swung back and forth through her native Pittsburgh two hundred years earlier. In a charming and poetic memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author tells of her infatuation.

Holding Wake …

Their high command abandoned them. Their enemy thought they wouldn’t fight. But a few days after World War II began, a handful of weary Americans gave the world a preview of what the Axis powers were up against. Peter Andrews tells of the epic struggle for Wake Island when Marines and civilian construction workers and pilots pushing sturdy but heavily outclassed Grumman Wildcats threw back an amphibious invasion for the only time during the war.

Plus …

The last photograph of FDR, seen for the first time … the sturdy, handsome, mellow products of the Arts and Crafts movement… the crisp and strangely haunting record, by an unknown photographer, of a Texas town … traveling with a sense of history to the U.S. Virgin Islands … and, with a celebratory generosity suitable to the month that marks the anniversary of our independence, more.

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