Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(72)Man of War by Charlie Schroeder

Man of War 

Publication Date: May 24, 2012
Pages: 288



Once upon a time I dated a guy who was a Civil War Reenactor and he took me to an event one weekend.


Okay have you stopped laughing?


Seriously, though.  We loaded up his Dodge Dakota with his authentic canvas tent and somewhat authentic untensils and dishes and his authentic clothes and joined a caravan to Southeast Missouri where we would take place in a weekends worth of events.


We pulled in and set up tent and was told that because we were going to sleep on an air mattress (not authentic) we were to keep our tent flaps closed at all times.  Oh and by the way, if I was going to "be in camp" I would need to be dressed appropriately.  Luckily one of the wives was my size and let me borrow some of her clothes.   The weekend proved to be an interesting one that I will never forget.  We sat around a campfire swapping stories, there was a dance that played only music of the era, there was even a wedding that took place.  I got to shop at the Sutler's shop and watch two battles take place on the field.  The organizers had even set up a Museum tour of the Stars and Stripes Museum for anyone who wanted to go.   Overall it was a wonderful experience and I was glad that I got to be a part of that world for just one weekend.


So when I got the opportunity to review Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment by Charlie Schroeder I jumped at the chance.  I wanted to see what he had to say about the world that provided me with such a great weekend (ex-asshole withstanding).


You could say that Charlie Schroeder has been reenacting for years because of his summer job at a Renaissance Festival when he was barely out of High School.  It was a recent trip to Old Fort MacArthur Days with his wife where Charlie gets his idea to look at the world of Reenactors and the History that they bring to life.  His first experience is a reenactment from World War II where he is dressed as a Nazi.  He then goes on to take part in other reenactments ranging from the Civil War to the Vietnam War and everything in between.  He even organizes his own reenactment of sorts.


I was a bit concerned while reading about his first experience during the WWII reenactment that it was going to be one of those "these guys are a bunch of redneck freaks" types of books, but for a Liberal guy immersed in a mostly Conservative past time he did a good job of staying pretty objective. He recounts several conversations he had with several of the reenactors about the "whys and whats" of their involvement and it was really interesting.  He even does a lot of name dropping of more recent history authors and their books, reading that he did to to prepare for events he participated in.


Bottom line is that Man of War is an interesting, fairly light-hearted look one of America's lesser known favorite pastimes.   He keeps the book light and funny as he traipses through the countryside.  Man of War is the perfect book for the History buff in your life.  It is more than your typically dry History book, it actually puts you in the middle of the battle and that makes it worth the read.

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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