It's fitting that Colin and Tim talked on the anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That's because Tim's recent documentary Monumental Crossroads (link below) examines the debate over Confederate memorials and the meaning of the Civil War in the South.
Taking his camera to locations in Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and Alabama, Tim's film interviews white and black people to understand their feelings about some of the most divisive symbols in the American landscape. Monumental Crossroads shows us a cross-section of the South, from a black artists and politicians to white members of Confederate groups as well as an African American "Confederate" in Asheville and Tennessee Civil War interpreters.
Tim, a native of the Netherlands, makes clear that no society is free of racism (as in the case of the Netherlands' "Black Pete"), though some are better than others at confronting their troubled past. Colin and Tim discuss the difficulties surrounding racial healing amid a summer that has shown how deadly and divisive race continues to be.
You can watch Monumental Crossroads here:
John Jay Osborn, Jr., is perhaps best known for his 1971 novel The Paper Chase, which was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring John Houseman (with whom John became friends). The book was based on John's experiences at Harvard Law School and centers on James T. Hart, a bright, ambitious, first-year student trying to balance his studies and tumultuous personal life. The book sold well and the film was a success, but John never abandoned the law.
The Papers Chase, nevertheless, led to John spending 15 years in Hollywood as a scriptwriter and advisor. He worked on the TV adaptation of The Paper Chase as well as shows such as L.A. Law and Spencer for Hire. He also was the creator of the show The Associates, based on his second novel. In 2018, after a long hiatus, John published a novel about a troubled relationship called Listen to the Marriage. That book, too, is being made into a movie.
John talks with Colin about his roots in New York, the Osborn family's flight to California, writing The Paper Chase, and his adventures in (and frustrations with) Hollywood.
Chris Leahy was a fellow traveler with Colin in his days at LSU. Since 2007, he's been a professor a Keuka College in upstate New York. He has a new book out, President without a Party: A Life of John Tyler (LSU Press, 2020). His biography began as a dissertation in Baton Rouge, where Chris studied under the imposing William J. Cooper (a previous podcast guest on American Rambler). Chris talks with Colin about his days at LSU as well as growing up in Baltimore and his time at Virginia Tech.
Chris has been working on his biography for more than 20 years. Born in the first years of the American republic into a Tidewater planter family, Virginia's John Tyler isn't one of the better known presidents. But his career in politics serves as an example of how a man can find himself accidentally put into a position of power and then find he doesn't really belong in any political camp.
Tyler might have been U.S. president, but he ended his life loyal to the Confederacy. He died in early 1862, just before taking his place in the Rebel Congress. Ultimately, what kind of a man was Tyler? And what can he tell us about the time in which he lived?