discussion of his editorial procedures isnso subjective that he never really meetsnthe basic scholarly requirement of indicatingnfully the nature of the omittednmaterial.nOn the other hand, one might havenmade use of the diary and other sourcesnand written an intereshng shortnbiography of Chaplin, which wouldnhave been more useful than the author’sndecision to present both annabridged diary and an overextendednbiography. Like most of his neighbors,nChaplin was an able sportsman andnConfederate soldier. Unlike most ofnhis neighbors, he was not a successfulnagriculturalist. His fortunes declinedneven before the war and he engaged inna protracted tedious litigation with hisnstepfather. After the war, like manynother 19th-century Americans whonlacked nonaddictive pain-killers, henbecame a dope fiend, which perhapsnexplains part of his presumed appeal tonthe contemporary reading public. Onenmight argue that some of his morensignificant neighbors would havenmade a better study, should one wantnto examine in depth the society of thenSea Islands, which was somewhat peculiarnby Southern or even by SouthnCarolina standards. But there is a greatnhistorical value in studying the morenordinary level in any situation, and Inhave no quarrel with the selection ofnsubject. Rosengarten’s approach is innthe familiar genre of the psychosocial,nby which we have learned that beneathntheir stern exteriors our 19th-centurynforefathers were quite often as humann(i.e., screwed up) as we are. That isnfine and well worth knowing, so longnas it is kept in perspective with othernhistorical considerations.nA good deal of value and interestnemerges from the biographical treatment.nIts flaws are two. First, there isnno true historical perspective. Thenreader never quite escapes from thenawareness that he is being lectured byna superior modern observer on thenpolitical, social, moral, and characternshortcomings of other men of anothernday and place. Though his actions andncomments are described fully, one willnnever understand, from this sourcenalone, what made Chaplin tick. Hisnpolitical beliefs, for instance, are nevernmade meaningful because the authorncannot really believe that they werenreal, serious, inherited, and rational innChaplin’s world and not just a smokenscreen to fool observers.nSecondly, the author felt impellednto frame his biography with an extendednand digressive history of the SeanIsland region and of South Carolinanfrom early colonial times through Reconstruction.nWhere first-rate secondarynsources exist, as for the Reconstructionnperiod, this is fairlynsuccessful. On the whole, it is not.nJohn C. Calhoun dies in the wrongnmonth. Robert Barnwell Rhett, foremostnof the fire-eaters, is described as an”provincial.” Rhett was a Southernnnationalist, and Rosengarten is free tondisapprove of him; however, he wasnnot a “provincial,” as any rudimentarynperusal of his correspondence or careernwill indicate. To characterize a complicatednhistorical figure in this way isnhttie more than sloganeering. At anothernlevel the author tells us, “On theneve of secession, the great majority ofnwhite people in South Carolina didnnot own any slaves.” From this statementnhe proceeds to an extended discussionnof the beliefs and motives ofnthe nonslaveholding farmers, aboutnwhom he surely knows less than Inknow about Paraguayans. But thenwhole discussion is pointless. Thenmost salient fact about antebellumnSouth Carolina was that nearly onehalfnof the body of citizens were slaveownersnand that, unlike any othernAmerican state, there was no “greatnmajority” of nonslaveholding farmers.nSuch missteps are trivial takennalone, but cumulatively they suggest anlevel of historianship somewhat lowernthan Tombee aspires to. Should younwish to learn something about the SeanIsland planters, let me suggest you passnup Tombee and turn to a book by onenof their number that is a classic expressionnof their spirit—Carolina Sportsnby Land and Water (1846) by WilliamnElliott, which is a good deal more thannits title suggests. Or you might turn tonthe letters of the Jones family from thenadjacent region of Georgia, lettersnpublished a few years ago as The Childrennof Pride. Should you want thenlarger history of the Sea Islands, looknat Willie Lee Rose’s Rehearsal for Reconstructionn(1964), where it is conciselynand reliably presented by a masternhistorian. And the black experiencenis beautifully rendered in Charles W.nJoyner’s Down by the Riverside (1984),nnnwhich concentrates on another butnsimilar region of the South CarolinanLow Country.nThere is littie in Tombee that thenspecialist cannot find more reliablynelsewhere. Nevertheless, the book hasnalready achieved the critical acclaimnwhich it sought and which was doubtlessnfore-ordained. I am not apprised ofnthe degree of its commercial success.nPresumably, there are still some thousandsnof “general readers” tucked awaynin odd corners across that great forestnof satellite dishes that make up Americannculture. But, I suspect, Tombeenwill prove a bit too heavy and tooncynical for them, and too bulky for thenHilton Head tourist trade.nFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715nILLINOIS RESIDENTSn1-800-892-0753nAPRIL 1987/25n