Saturday, March 9, 2013

Battle for Athens

If you've never heard of it, the Battle for Athens was an uprising in Athens, Tennessee carried out by WWII veterans that had enough of corrupt politicians, and used their 2nd Amendment rights to take back the political process from them.  Read more here.

On this subject, I just bought this book, and I am really looking forward to reading it:

Battle for Athens
This poetry collection describes the Battle of Athens, Tennessee, which unraveled between August 1st and 2nd, 1946. When three thousand World War II veterans came back to their homes in McMinn County, they discovered an incredibly corrupt and oppressive government that engaged in false arrests, bribery, extortion and a long list of other crimes. The ex-G.I.s put together an all-G.I. ticket in the town elections for Sheriff and other major town offices. Over the course of the day, Senator Cantrell and Sheriff Mansfield, the corrupted opposing party, engaged in election fraud that went so far as to shoot Tom, a black farmer, for voting against them. In response, the veterans acquired guns and mounted an offensive that led to a stand-off at the jail house. The veterans in Athens won their right to a fair election with the use of deadly force. This collection closely follows archival evidence, and includes several poems about related philosophical and political concerns. It is a fascinating read for students of American history, as well as those who enjoy political poetry.
There are only a couple of reviews, but read this one:
In the long tradition of narrative poetry, this work will stand out as a worthy addition. The story is clear: In Athens, Tennessee, in 1946, having fought long and hard in World War II, American GIs found themselves once again in battle, this time at home, fighting against political corruption and election fraud. The triumphant part of this story is that in Athens, the veterans succeeded in establishing a fair election. In other cities across the nation, this was not the case.

Writing historical narrative poetry requires a challenging combination of dispassion in the story telling and passion in the stance that the story takes. Faktorovich achieves both. Each poem can be read as a unique element; together, they create the full story and indict the power that corrupts. Further, Faktorovich implies a strong analogy to the processes in which we engage today, questioning our country's motives and encouraging the reader to think.

Poetically, this work is dense, telling in carefully crafted and pithy sentences the story and its implications. Historical black and white photographs enhance the poetry with images of the time, but the most memorable are those with close-ups of people where the reader can see the intensity in their faces. The combination of poetry and image presents a stark and unvarnished view of this story and forces the reader to think long and hard about where we have been and where we are going.

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