Saturday, 1 February 2014

Book Review: Letters from Alabama

By Philip Henry Gosse.

Amazon offers the book....free.  Gosse published the piece in 1859.  It was a collection of letters that he sent back home (to England) to cover this period that he served as a teacher in central Alabama in 1838 (he was twenty-eight at the time).

In the old days.....we had people who were true naturalists....who would spend hours and days consumed with passion over animal life and plants.

Gosse was one of those people with a fantastic amount of passion for nature.  He could draw upon logical conclusions, and write in vast detail.  His summaries....were a piece of art.  You can easily run across five pages of the 300-odd page book, which detail the character and physical traits of a possum.

If you had an interest of plant and animal life in Alabama in this early period.....it is a five-star book.  There is rich character and description put onto the pages.

The limitations of this book?  Well....it is poorly edited.  There's probably fifty instances where you'd note something missing or bad editing.  The detail of human life or society in 1838?  It barely covers thirty pages.  You see.....his fascination was mostly of the non-human side of life.  When he does cover rural traditions, slavery, and business....there's a page or two, and then he moves onto his favorite topic.

There is a brief seven lines in the midst of the book where he notes that most know the whole economic system of Alabama is built on something of value that could fall apart and leave you bankrupt.....if slavery comes to an end.  He suggests....very strongly.....that most of the business men that he comes in contact with....realize this in 1838.

So, it's an excellent read.....if you are interested in the period of the mid-1800s of Alabama, and especially if you are a naturalist who enjoys descriptions.  The book is ninety percent nature-related....so don't count on much for "other" history elements on Alabama.  In this case......if your curious nature is strictly Alabama.....skip it.

Gosse will go on and write around forty publications.  

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