The Pessimism That Followed W.W. I (Atlantic Monthly, 1923)
A few years after the Great War reached it's bloody conclusion, literary critic Helen McAfee discovered that a careful reading of the prominent authors and poets writing between 1918 and 1923 revealed that each of them shared a newfound sense of malaise - a despairing, pessimistic voice that was not found in their pre-war predecessors.
"Certainly the most striking dramatization of this depth of confusion and bitterness is Mr. Eliot's The Waste Land. As if by flashes of lightening it reveals the wreck of the storm... The poem is written in the Expressionist manner - a manner peculiarly adapted to the present temper... It is mood more than idea that gives the poem its unity. And the mood is black. It is bitter as gall; not only with a personal bitterness, but also with the bitterness of a man facing a world devastated by a war for a peace without ideals."
If you would like to read another 1920s article about the disillusioned post-war spirit, click here.
Post-War Diary (Atlantic Monthly, 1928)
Printed posthumously, the attached article was written by British Lieutenant Colonel Charles A Court Repington (1858 - 1925) as he recalled his conversations with French Field Marshals Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), Joseph Joffre (1852 - 1931) and a number of other French statesmen about the First World War during a series of chats that took place in the autumn 1924.
What the Stenographer Saw... (Atlantic Monthly, 1930)
The attached recollection was written by a British woman who worked as a stenographer at the American embassy in London. She recalled much of what she saw from the typing pool on that dreadful August day in 1914 when the Great War began.
General Lee's Unique Bond with his Army (Atlantic Monthly, 1911)
Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807 - 1870) is the topic of this "psycho-graphic" essay from Confederate Portraits (1914) by the celebrated biographer, Gamaliel Bradford (1863 - 1932).
"...Lee won the hearts of his soldiers by living as they did. He managed the business of his position with as little fuss and parade as possible. Foreign officers were struck with the absolute simplicity of his arrangements. There were no guards or sentries around his headquarters, no idle aids-de-camp loitering about..."
Hitler Gets a Bad Review (Atlantic Monthly, 1933)
With Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the German-speaking Alice Hamilton (1869 - 1970; sister to the classics scholar, Edith) was assigned the task of reviewing Mein Kampf
(1925) for The Atlantic Monthly. She didn't like it.
"He loves rough, red-blooded words - 'relentless', 'steely', 'iron-hearted', 'brutal'; his favorite phrase is 'ruthless brutality'. His confidence in himself is unbounded."
The royalties generated by the sales of Mein Kampf made Adolf Hitler a very rich man. To read about this wealth and Hitler's financial adviser, click here.
Read another review of "Mein Kampf".
Although Hitler didn't mention it his book, German-Americans drove him crazy.
Civil War Pirate Raphael Semmes (Atlantic Monthly, 1913)
Attached is a "psychographic" essay from Confederate Portraits (1914) by the noted biographer, Gamaliel Bradford (1863 - 1932). It must have been written in order to expose to the reading public that softer, more sensitive Raphael Semmes (1809 - 1877) that no historian ever seems to consider. This vision of the American Civil War pirate comes off as a quiet, pious Renaissance man, with a flare for the dramatic.
"Semmes was not only a wide reader in his profession and in lines connected with it, but he loved literature proper, read much poetry and quoted it aptly. He was a singularly sensitive to beauty in any form."
The KKK Popularity in Indiana (Atlantic Monthly, 1923)
"Don't ya know that ever' time a boy baby is born in a Cath'lic' fam'ly they take and bury enough am'nition fer him to kill fifty people with!"
Such thinking "is part of the state of mind that accounts for the amazing growth of the Ku Klux Klan in the old Hoosier commonwealth; that enables Indiana to compete with Ohio for the distinction of having a larger Klan membership than any other state. It helped make possible the remarkable election results of last fall, when practically every candidate opposed by the Klan went down in defeat."
Written by Lowell Mellett (1886 - ?), hardy journalist and son of Indiana. Millett is primarily remembered for his W.W. II days serving at the helm of the U.S. government's Office of War Information's Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP).
The Atmosphere of W.W. I Paris (Atlantic Monthly, 1918)
William Beebe is best remembered for his exploration of the oceans in a submersible craft called a "Bathysphere", however, as a younger man his study of nature brought him to war-weary Paris.
"Four devastating years of war had altered the city and made quite an affect on the young naturalist. His astute and very moving observations were recorded in this essay, "A Naturalist in Paris".
This link displays the first six pages; the remaining seven pages are available upon request.
Click here to read about the day when the Nazis took Paris.
An Eyewitness Account of Lincoln's Visit to Richmond (Atlantic Monthly, 1865)
"Abraham Lincoln was walking their streets: and worst of all, that plain, honest-hearted man was recognizing the [slaves] as human beings by returning their salutations!"
-so wrote the Atlanta Weekly journalist, C.C. Coffin, in this report to his readers concerning the 1865 tour Abraham Lincoln made to a very humiliated Richmond, Virginia.
The Modern Klan (Atlantic Monthly, 1922)
An Atlantic Monthly article by LeRoy Percy (1860– 1929), a well-off planter who had successfully fought the spread of the KKK into Washington County, Mississippi. This article explains how the Klan operated in 1922. Their wide-spread appeal is also discussed.
"One of the strangest aberrations in American life since the war is the growth of the Ku Klux Klan. In the North that organization, when considered at all, has been thought of as a colossal buffoonery, a matter unworthy of the time or thought of intelligent folk; and indeed for the average American, with his common sense and his appreciation for the ridiculous, any other attitude of numbers would seem unlikely...The Klan excludes from membership Negroes, Jews, Catholics and foreign-born, whether citizens or not. In its own phrase, it is the only Gentile White Protestant American-born organization in the world. It is secret... When asked if he is a member, the custom is for a good Klansman to evade, more rarely to reply in the negative, but in any event not to avow his membership."
Click here to learn about the origins of the term "Jim Crow".
Virginia Woolf Reviews E.M. Forster (Atlantic Monthly, 1927)
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) had her say regarding the novels of E.M. Forster (1879 – 1970):
"There are a many reasons which should prevent one from criticizing the work of contemporaries... With a novelist like E.M. Forster this is specially true, for he is in any case an author about whom there is considerable disagreement. There is something baffling and evasive in the very nature of his gifts."
Woodrow Wilson on the Russian Revolution and the Red Scare (Atlantic Monthly, 1923)
Attached is an essay by Woodrow Wilson (1856 — 1924) in which the former president implored his fellow citizens to see that the world has indeed been made safe for democracy and that better days are ahead, regardless of the events in Russia and their own fears of communism at home.
''What the Negro Means to America'' (Atlantic Monthly, 1929)
In the attached article Count Hermann Alexander Keyserling (1880 – 1946), German philosopher and social critic, wrote about those uncommon cultural elements within the African-American culture that renders American blacks as an unprecedented, unique cultural force in the world:
"There has never been anything like the American Negro in Africa, nor is there anything like him in the West Indies or in South America."