Richard F. Miller

Was browsing at lunch in Borders and saw Harvard's Civil War had been released in paperback and was selling out at a Virginia store. Good for author Richard F. Miller!

Afternoon toil was followed by a drive home, coincidentally listening to the audiobook The Education of Henry Adams, marvelling at the Harvardian Adams' review of the British intervention threat of September - November 1862, comparing his memories in the U.S. legation with the documentation that emerged postwar. ACW historiography at its very best.

Got home, got an email tip that Richard has a blog, saw that he had a post on Petraeus.

As Shakespeare or Milton or Chaucer once noted, How 'bout them apples?

My view of Petraeus differs from Richard's - I see him as the captive of a corrupt, bloated, broken system, one that he did not try to reform by leveraging the prestige of his Iraq service. This could be a harsh read - after all, his deadliest arch-enemy, Gen. Casey, still runs the army and is his boss. (Bumper sticker idea: "Ask me about my deadly, arch-enemy boss!")

Daily Beast had an excerpt today on Petraeus's commissioning which helped me focus a long-simmering general resentment. Thank you, Beast.

After my commissioning in the infantry, my rank was backdated by the Army so that I would not outrank a certain West Point cohort, matriculating a week or two later. Petraeus was in that cohort. Not to pull a Joe Johnston or anything, but these matters have a strange power to irk. Good to have a specific face to associate with that irksome backdating. (Insert Chaucerian expletive here.)

Petraeus did an admirable thing before commissioning. He chose Infantry as his branch. This is a point that counts for much with me. Further, we, in that day as newly commissioned infantry officers, had the illusory and futile option of volunteering for Vietnam assignment ... to later be told that they didn't want infantry there any more. If he so volunteered for that then, even better.

I'll set aside my pettiness to pull for him.

Meanwhile, hooray for Richard Miller and for Richard's new book. And for compound coincidences like these.