Civil War 101 ad nauseum

You have been invited to give a lecture to the local historical society.

It goes without saying that the members are all history buffs and, like most historical societies, the membership is tilted toward mature, educated people. What are you going to say about the Civil War to a well educated crowd that reads history for a hobby?

Would you say:

* A lot of books have been published about the Civil War.

* The Civil War almost tore apart the United States.

* The Civil War proved the viability of a republican form of government in a democratic society.

* Many Americans and Europeans identify with President Abraham Lincoln today.

* Today, there are statues of President Lincoln in many countries.

* The jury is still out on whether the United States can live up to its legacy and its promise of freedom, equal rights and equal opportunity.

These points were actually spoken by a Pulitzer winner - James McPherson - in prosperous Lawrence, N.J., next to Princeton.

Sometimes a reporter will simplify a speech ... but read a report of any McPherson talk and you'll wonder if you have lost your mind.

It's interesting that this event drew just 50 in McPherson's own neighborhood. "Sorry Madge, I'm not going to make the event tonight; do let me know if the Civil War almost tore the country apart, will you?"