Reading “1876”

I’ve read “Burr” and so I think reading this sequel is inevitable. Since I am not so familiar with the early history of the States, I don’t quite know which characters are fictional and which characters are historical figures. The same for the book “Burr”. Is Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler a real historical figure? It really doesn’t matter since the book is rather interesting. Whenever it’s cynical, it is humorous; whenever it’s sad or even furious, it hides behind the seemingly funny remarks. By the look of it, Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler and his daughter, the princess, are the only fictional characters and all the other ones really existed. How about Samford, the one Emma eventually married?

Does it really matter? Probably not. History, when not deliberately fictional, is told with a fictional fervor, is open to different interpretations, is made into legends or myths. The last part of the book, which is very interesting, is a little incomprehensible to me. How could the three southern states and Oregan manipulate their ballots and the eventual outcome? How did they do that? How did they get away with such blatant irregularity? The book didn’t provide details. I had to go to Wikipedia and read the 1876 election, but still there are no detailed explanation of what actually happened. Who bribed whom, who’s disfranchised, who’s responsible? Then again, why do I insist on all the details since the details were never known and we only have a vague understanding of historical events anyway. If there’s book that reveals all the details, we probably will think that’s a fiction. It has to be, considering the fact that most of political manipulations depend on secrecies, surprises, and coverups. If a book describes all the details, the author must have gone through the imagination process to fill up all the gaps.

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