Liberation Movements: A Review

I just completed a read of Olen Steinhauer’s novel, Liberation Movements. Steinhauer’s novels in his acclaimed literary crime series take the reader into the dark and dangerous world of communist Eastern Europe, into the lives, agendas, and minds of the secret police and homicide detectives. In this world, nothing is as it seems on the surface, and the author’s story resounds with truth–though fiction, it feels true. The author makes so many allusions to real events and people that I realized we Westerners have also been misled and misinformed (or at least left in ignorance) regarding the world of politics. Here is another excellent historical and cultural study of Eastern Europe.

Liberation Movements is presented from multiple points of view, a difficult task for a novelist, but Steinhauer accomplishes it masterfully and smoothly. The novel builds in intensity and pace and the conflicts resolve themselves effectively. The reader experiences epiphany after epiphany as the story is told and gradually comes to know the characters well, just as the characters come to know the other characters at the same pace. And the themes of the novel–mistakes and how they haunt and shape our lives, the desire and possibility of starting over, and others–these themes will insure the novel’s relevance to readers in the future.

Brano Sev, a career secret-service man I wrote a poem of in an earlier post, is now in a position of authority, a shadow in the story’s background manipulating those under him, still serving the political ideals that drive him. Sev is the penultimate, communist leader–totally committed to his cause and so intuitive about people that it is haunting.  Communism is a religion to Sev, and his former “conversion” experience (the torture that both broke him and bound him) reminds me of Orwell’s Winston Smith in 1984 new outlook on Big Brother Totalitarianism at that novel’s conclusion.

This novel is a work of art. I predict that someday we will study Steinhauer’s writing in the way that Solzhenitsyn is studied today.

The Celtic South

North Louisiana was settled largely by the Scots-Irish and Welsh, so much so that this part of the state is referred to as Celtic Louisiana.

If you enjoy Celtic and Confederate music, I thought the following might be of interest to you. DixieBroadcasting will be interviewing me again soon.

Celtic Confederate Week” on DixieBroadcasting!

All this week, enjoy lectures, speeches, and more Celtic music at DixieBroadcasting! And if you cant get enough, take a look at the special lectures & speeches offered in this week’s “Boxed Set” from the Southern Liberty Store at DixieBroadcasting! To listen, go here:

Here are some highlights of the speeches offered:

The South’s Celtic Background

There’s a reason that the South is different culturally from the Yankee Empire… it’s due, in large part, to the Celtic influence that settlers from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales brought to the shores of Dixie for more than two centuries as the largest people group to settle south of the Mason-Dixon line. Love of kith and kin, love of the land, itself… and a fierce and abiding love of liberty! Even if you’re not Celtic, you’ll enjoy learning how much the South owes to our Celtic heritage!

This Set Includes:

Michael Hill: “The Highland Clearances & Southern Reconstruction”
The similarities between the treatment that Southerners received from our American Yankee oppressors during Reconstruction and the treatment that the Scots received from the English Yankee tyrants for thousands of years… is striking! Learn about the historical treatment of the Scots and the attempt at their cultural genocide… and how it parallels the South today.

Thomas Fleming: “Scots & Southerners”
The culture of the South is certainly Anglo-Celtic, with a greater degree of Celtic than any other region on the American continent. Find out why this has been important in the development of Southern culture and learn just what the uniquely Celtic elements of our culture are.

Frank Walsh: “Our Southern Music Heritage”
If you have any interest at all in the stirring music of our Southern traditions, then this message is a MUST! Delivered by Frank Walsh of the 12th Louisiana String Band, this presentation will give both a musical and historical background of our Southern musical heritage… and you wont be surprised to find out the Celtic connection to much of that heritage!

James Kibler: “Out of the Box: An Irish Lesson”
Much has been written and spoken about the possibilities for a restored Southern republic in our future. Professor James Kibler, a genuine Southern agrarian and literary master, presents a compelling case for Southerners to think “outside the box” of traditional American politics in search of the will that is necessary to reclaim independence… and the Irish will to win their independence is the natural lesson for Southerners to study.

Songs for Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, I’ll be performing songs at Kiroli Park for the Blue Star Mothers, their friends and family.  I’m working on my song list now and I hope the ones I choose will inspire and comfort the families who attend. The Blue Star Mothers are mothers of military service men and women. You can read more of this organization here:

Not surprisingly, the custom of Memorial Day may have began in the South, during the War Between the States. An article at a Memorial Day site says: Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).  However, the author (David Merchant?) later says, “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.”

You can read about the history and meaning of Memorial Day here:

About Confederate soldier graves: In addition to the “pits” where multiple slain soldiers were buried together in large numbers, the most common markers I’ve seen are one of these two designs–a Maltese Cross and the pointed slab (The legend is that these were designed so Yankee soldiers wouldn’t sit on them).

CSA grave

csa grave

Jefferson, Texas, Continued

Today, I marched in the Pilgrimage Day Parade with the Confederates and  played my guitar the rest of the afternoon at Kathy Patrick’s Hair Salon.  At about 2:00 pm, I packed up and went to the battlefield on Tuscumbia Plantation. I was a Confederate soldier today. This was a well choreographed battle with live explosions on the battlefield. After the battle, I went for a burger at Auntie Skinner’s Tavern in Jefferson. It was there I met these three of Wheat’s Louisiana Tiger Zouaves–Larry Auld, Josh Taylor, and Jim Marrs.


Here is a photo of me while I was performing at Kathy Patrick’s Hair Salon.  The weather was perfect today. Actually, the morning began very cool!

playing guitar

Here are two photos of plaques mounted in front of a historical building in Jefferson.  Jefferson has so much history!



It’s hard to believe that 3 days have passed by so quickly.  Tomorrow, I’ll return to Monroe and attend the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Society at 2:00 pm. This society is  off to a great start! If you’re in the Monroe area, and if you have any Celtic ancestors or interest in Celtic things, you should be a member!

Notes from Jefferson, Texas

 I’m in Jefferson, Texas for the city’s annual Pilgrimage Weekend.  The weather (rainy and stormy) has definitely slowed down things, but according to weather reports, tomorrow (the most important day for this writer) is going to have perfect weather.  I spent a good bit of the day talking to some sutlers and reenactors and playing some music.  I passed this statue, a memorial of the Confederate soldiers who came from this area and decided to post a photo of it.  The inscription reads: “Erected by Dick Taylor Camp, UCV, Lest we forget. In memory of our dead 1861-1865.”  I think a great coffee table book would be one of all the Confederate memorials.

statue jefferson

I’m using the slow time for writing, handling the endless tasks that are part of the writing business, and for polishing up my music for my programs. I’m also  meeting people and networking.

A quotation to make you think about Reconstruction:

There are few good things to be said of the North’s Reconstruction of the South. To illustrate the distress and victimization of the South after the War, I chose a quotation of Robert E. Lee. He had surrendered his army in hope of healing, hope, and peace for the South. Instead, the South received the punitive and wicked policies of Reconstruction.  Mr. Lee said:

“Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand.”
General Robert E. Lee,
August 1870 to
Governor Stockdale of Texas

Jed Marum’s Lonestar Stout: A Review

Jed Marum’s newest CD is Lone Star Stout. The CD cover says it is a collection of Irish favorites with a Texas/Louisiana twist. The songs are mostly traditional, featuring Jed on guitars, banjo, banjola, and vocals, and his son Jaime on the octave mandolin. The CD was engineered by Travis Ener and Nolan Brett, mastering.

This is currently my favorite of Jed Marum’s CD, the quality of sound is excellent, and the songs moving and fascinating.  Here are some of the pieces I especially enjoyed:

“Back Home in Derry”  Jed’s version of this song is the best I’ve heard. It was written by Bobby Sands (IRA soldier who died on hunger strike) for his comrades from Derry who were in the H-Blocks. He performed this song at the nightly concerts they used to have in the Blocks, singing it out through the keyhole.

There are some traditional pieces such as “Risin of the Moon,” “Grace,” a ballad I plan on devoting a whole entry to in the future; “Foggy Dew,” “Black Velvet Band,” “Wild Colonial Boy,” “Spancil Hill,” and “Goodbye Mick.”  These songs are sure to stir the blood of any Irish patriot or rebel.

Jed takes us into New Orleans with his rendition of “St. James Infirmary,” and then to East Texas with his version of “Red River Valley” that ties Ireland to Texas and Louisiana.

Jed’s singing and guitar work on this CD are superb. If you ever get a chance to hear Jed in a live performance, you will not be disappointed. He is a musician you can appreciate, and if you’re a musician yourself, one you can emulate. You can find out more about him, his busy schedule, and his music here:

lone star stout