SIX WHO FAILED

acwtscan0014_21For those of you who may have lain awake at night wondering “Geez, were there six men who could have prevented the Civil war from becoming a murderous army vs. army conflagration, please avail yourself of the opportunity to pick up the April issue of The Civil War Times, and read my article “Six Men Who Could Have Stopped the Civil War.” Yes, I’m talking about John Floyd, John McGowan and Isiah Greene, among others. This grew out of a talk I gave two years ago at Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. Thanks to Dana Shoaf for a nice edit.

TRICKY NICK

machiavelli25n-2-web Having spent all that (mostly enjoyable) time in graduate school reading The Prince, I was delighted to see that Professor Stephen J. Milner of the University of Manchester has discovered the arrest warrant for Niccolò Machiavelli hidden away in a state archive. The 500-years-old document was the catalyst for Machiavelli’s writing The Prince. When the Medici family returned to power in Florence in 1512, chiavelli was booted out of his post in the city’s chancery He was later linked to a conspiracy to overthrow the returning rulers, and this warrant for his arrest was issued in 1513. “On the same day, he was imprisoned, tortured and later released and placed under house arrest outside the city,” Milner told The Telegraph, “The Prince was written in the vain hope of gaining favor and employment with the Medici — but there’s no evidence to suggest they even read it.”

HOW HE DID

koch and meEd Koch died last Friday at the age of 88. In retirement, he became a beloved figure, a loud, opinionated uncle, unhip in his easy gracelessness, comfortable in his blotchy skin. But in his prime, he was a large figure, with a great intellect and enormous confidence, vain, nasty, ebullient, fun. One of his greatest moments was during the transit strike of 1979, when Koch, who had no responsibility for making the deal, stood with quasi-Churchillian courage and roared encouragement to straphangers-turned-pedestrians (like me) who had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. But he relished the spotlight too much, and took too much pleasure in ladeling like schmaltz his jokes and his insults and his self-regard on the tough, grind-it-out management of a broke city, at which he also excelled. When the Donnie Manes scandals broke, and Koch was revealed to have to have been goofballing around while the thieves connived, Koch was embarrassed, and never quite the force. Still, he was a remarkable figure and to have been a lowly aide to a City Councilman during the Koch reign was a rich and memorable and highly educational experience. At his memorial yesterday, Michael Bloomberg eulogized him: “No mayor, I think, has ever embodied the spirit of New York City like he did, and I don’t think anyone ever will. Tough and loud, brash and irreverent, full of humor and chutzpah — he was our city’s quintessential mayor.” That sounds about right. (Above: my moment with Ed, in February 1981, when he appoints me Executive Director of the Citizens Committee for Water Conservation. When days later a massive nor’easter ended the drought that occasioned the appointment, my career in government came to an end.)