May Day

by John J. Miller on December 2, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

From George Avery of Purdue:

I read your book over Thanksgiving and fully enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised to see your reference to Bob May’s  “Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire.” I had Bob for two classes back in the 1980s, and he is a good friend and colleague today – an officer for our local Civil War roundtable as well. I even got a credit in his last book for some information I found for him on the Knights of the Golden Circle in Arkansas.

The reference comes at the end of The First Assassin, in an author’s note that tips my hat to a number of books that inspired and informed aspects of the novel’s plot. The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire by Robert E. May is one of them. It opened my eyes to filibustering–not the kind that occurs in the Senate, but rather the antebellum efforts to expand America’s manifest destiny into Latin America through private military operations. Guys like John Quitman and William Walker essentially tried to turn Cuba and Nicaragua into states. They failed (obviously), but imagine how U.S. history would have changed if they had succeeded.

This fascinating movement provides a backdrop for one of the book’s central characters. His experience with the filibusters shapes his motivations in The First Assassin.

Civil War buffs benefit from a rich literature. The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire is an excellent work of scholarship on a niche topic.

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