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1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre, The: Blood in the Cane Fields (True Crime) Paperback – October 16, 2017
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"Although most known for its world-class fishing and seafood, St. Bernard Parish is also rich in history. Historian and Chalmette High School teacher Chris Dier has long been fascinated by the past, but one story in particular captured his attention -- the 1868 massacre in the local cane fields.
In fact, his interest and passion in the event culminate in the release of his new book, "The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre - Blood in the Cane Fields." Published by the History Press, the book chronicles the history of St. Bernard, beginning with the arrival of the Canary Islanders in 1778." Times-Picayune
About the Author
Chris Dier was born in New Orleans and currently teaches history at Chalmette High School in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, Dier was uprooted to Texas, where he finished high school and attended East Texas Baptist University. Dier received a BA in history from ETBU. After completion of his undergraduate degree, he moved back to his hometown and became an educator to follow in the footsteps of his mother. He continued his studies to earn an MA in education from the University of New Orleans and is currently obtaining an MEd in educational administration from UNO. He resides in St. Bernard Parish and has a keen interest in regional history.
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The fact that the story covers America- which means it delves into our country’s racist past and present- is the reason why many have mobilized to try to torpedo this book’s rating.
Read some of the comments, then read the book. Who is on the right side of history?
1. I was so impressed with the amount of research that went into it, though not surprised since it was written by a history teacher (primary sources, yay!).
2. I learned so much about my hometown. Obviously this is NOT something I was taught in school at Chalmette High. I didn't know that my ancestors, the Islenos, were so involved in the violence against slaves and freedpeople. I thought everyone pretty much got along because they all had a similar level of poverty -- that is what has been passed down through my family, at least. It's jarring to realize how wrong I was.
3. I also didn't know that some Islenos were forcibly removed from the Canary Islands to modern-day St. Bernard Parish. I knew the history of African slavery, but this was a new piece of info for me.
4. I enjoyed the narrative style of writing. I read this in one evening! I do not generally read nonfiction books because I find them dry. But in this case, I couldn't put it down. The only negative I found in the generally well-written narrative is that there were some parts that were repetitive - not sure if on purpose to make a point about what basically amounted to hardcore voter suppression by way of murder and scare tactics.
5. I would recommend this to any and everyone interested in the history of St. Bernard Parish, as the implications of this massacre and the violence surrounding it are still evident today (in my opinion).
To be a great work of history, a book cannot simply narrate events in a mundane and harmless way; it must dare to teach us moral lessons as well. Mr. Dier does not hammer us over the head with moral lessons, but any reasonable and self-aware person cannot help but draw such lessons from the gripping narrative. The description of the events surrounding the “blood in the cane fields” illustrates the harmful effects of explicit nationalism, tribalism, and racism. In our day and age, such negative attributes are more implicit and may lie dormant beneath the surface. But it only takes the right--or more correctly, wrong--type of leader to fan the embers of hatred into an inferno of explicit and rabid nationalism, tribalism, and racism. “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past” (George Santayana).
Mr. Dier has shone a bright light through the window of the past allowing us to see accurately and clearly what we may not want to see. But after seeing and assimilating these events, it is up to us to draw lessons from them. I highly recommend this wonderful book.