Chronicles of a Two-Front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press

Chronicles of a Two-Front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press

Chronicles of a Two-Front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press

Chronicles of a Two-Front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press


In this first book on No. 44 in thirty years, thirteen especially commissioned essays by some of today's most accomplished Twain scholars cover an array of topics, from domesticity and transnationalism to race and religion, and reflect a variety of scholarly and theoretical approaches to the work. This far-reaching collection considers the status of No. 44 within Twain's oeuvre as they offer cogent insights into such broad topics as cross-culturalism, pain and redemption, philosophical paradox, and comparative studies of the "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts.

All of these essays attest to the importance of this late work in Twain's canon, whether considering how Twain's efforts at truth-telling are premeditated and shaped by his own experiences, tracing the biblical and religious influences that resonate in No. 44, or exploring the text's psychological dimensions. Several address its importance as a culminating work in which Twain's seemingly disjointed story lines coalesce in meaningful, albeit not always satisfactory, ways. An afterword by Alan Gribben traces the critical history of the "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts and the contributions of previous critics. A wide-ranging critical introduction and a comprehensive bibliography on the last century of scholarship bracket the contributions.

Close inspection of this multidimensional novel shows how Twain evolved as a self-conscious thinker and humorist--and that he was a more conscious artist throughout his career than has been previously thought. Centenary Reflections deepens our understanding of one of Twain's most misunderstood texts, confirming that the author of No. 44 was a pursuer of an elusive truth that was often as mysterious a stranger as Twain himself.


Negro newspapers … became the medium through which the yearnings
of the race were expressed, the platform from which the Negro leaders could
speak, the coordinator of mass action which Negroes felt compelled to take,
and the instrument by which many Negroes were educated with respect to pub
lic affairs.—John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom

On the morning of August 2, 1964, Captain John J. Herrick, skipper of the American destroyer Maddox, steered his warship to within ten miles of North Vietnam’s Red River delta on the western edge of the Gulf of Tonkin. the sea was calm and the day was clear, but Herrick was edgy. Before dawn his ship had encountered a flotilla of Vietnamese junks. Unsure of the enemy’s intentions, he sounded general quarters and radioed the Seventh Fleet. Although his crew picked up some radio crackle indicating the enemy might be gearing up for military operations, the night passed quietly.

Then, shortly before noon, Herrick spotted three enemy patrol boats moving out of the estuary and behind an island that had been raided by South Vietnamese commandos two days earlier. As the Maddox headed out to sea, its crew intercepted an order telling the patrol boats to attack after they finished refueling. the North Vietnamese boats soon reappeared and headed for the destroyer. What followed was a lopsided skirmish that was over in twenty minutes.

Herrick ordered his crew to open fire when the enemy craft were within ten thousand yards. the patrol boats kept coming, two closing to within five thousand yards of the Maddox and haphazardly launching several torpedoes . . .

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