Tar Heel Deadnby Clyde Wilsonn”In my honest and unbiased judgment, the Good Lord will place the Garden ofnEden in North Carolina, when He restores it to earth. He will do this becausenHe will have so few changes to make in order to achieve perfection.”n— Sam J. Ervin Jr.nDictionary of North CarolinanBiographynYAited by William S. PowellnChapel Hill and London:nUniversity of North Carolina Press;nVol. l,477pp.;Vol.2,389pp.;nVol. 3, 384 pp.; $49.95 eachnWilliam S. Powell’s magnificentnportrayal of an American statenthrough a collective biography of itsnmen and women of eminence or interestnhas reached midpoint in its publication.nI will try to explain why it is worthynof serious notice by readers of thenmagazine of American culture.nOne of the great virtues of thisncollection is an old-fashioned scholarshipnthat is at once skillful, thorough,naware without being trendy, and piousnwithout being blind. The editor hasnClyde Wilson is a professor of historynat the University of South Carolinanand editor of the Papers of John C.nCalhoun.nspent a lifetime exploring every facet ofnthe history of his state and mastering itnwith a thoroughness seldom matchedntoday. The result is a grand and comprehensivendesign that leads to an inclusiveness,naccuracy, and insight thatnis of permanent value. jnLet’s face it: the libraries are ftill ofnbiographical dictionaries. Many ofnthem, even some bearing the narnes ofnfamous scholars as editors, are merelynpublishers’ gimmicks, cut-and-pastedntogether by people who were unable ornunwilling to see their subject freshlynand comprehensively and full ofnarticles written hastily by clockwatchingn”scholars” who merely compilenand rewrite old mistakes of fact andnjudgment. Not so in this remarkablenwork.nAnother consoling feature is thencollaboration of hundreds of authorsnon some four thousand sketches, withnprofessional scholars and amateurs (innthe old and honorable sense of thatnterm) appearing shoulder-to-shouldernwithout embarrassment. The collabo­nnnration is reminiscent of that golden agenof American culture around the turn ofnthe 20th century, when history and allnother endeavors were dominated byngifted amateurs, the last great promisingnmoment before “experts” andn”progressives” took government andnlearning away from the people andnruined them forever. We North Caroliniansnhave always been behind thentimes in many ways — and glad of it.nPardon me if I talk about “we.”nThough I have been in exile south ofnthe Catawba for some years,nI’m a Tar Heel bornnAnd a Tar Heel bred.nAnd when I die,nI’ll be a Tar Heel dead.nUnlike some neighbors, I will not mentionnthat we don’t like to brag. Ournmotto is “Esse Quam Videri”: to benrather than to seem. But I will pointnout to a world whose perspective isnslanted by New York and Hollywoodnthat we make up a pretty big slice ofnAmerica, both in size and history. FornJULY 1990/35n