A Thousand Points of Truth

A Thousand Points of Truth – The History and Humanity of Col. John Singleton Mosby in Newsprint, by V.P. Hughes, can be simply described as the complete collection of the life of Colonel John Singleton Mosby between 1862 and 1916. The book is 777 pages of thoroughly researched and documented “points of truth” that form the life of this great man. That, in itself, would not be all that special, but for the fact that this is so thoroughly readable. What is unique is a biography based almost entirely on contemporary newspaper accounts. Hughes’ commentary puts all those newspaper accounts into context so that we get a clear picture of who Colonel Mosby really was. While it is written as a defense of a much-maligned man, it is not a history whitewash – Mosby is presented as a real man with the faults and weaknesses that we all have, yet a man who was guided by the drive to do what is right. That is the magic of this book – combining newspaper accounts with the commentary that weaves it all into the fabric of the man – just as though he were a friend and next-door-neighbor who happened to play a pivotal role in history.

Mosby’s letters show a side of him that the historical sketches seldom show. He had a talent for clearly illustrating his point: this, from a letter of July 15, 1885:

And now in sorrow I must say, that I have met the fate of the benevolent stork who pulled out a bone that was stuck in the throat of a fox.
(page 291)

777 pages may appear daunting, but this is a book that you can pick up, open to any page, and start reading. Yes, it all ties together, but like anyone’s life, it is made up of vignettes that illustrate the man. The book is both a thorough research tool for the serious student of Colonel Mosby, and a book to fill a few minutes of pleasure reading time – a rare combination.

Most accounts of famous men attempt to fully describe the individual by using a few select stories to illustrate the entire man. Hughes presents us with “a thousand points” in the life of Colonel Mosby to show us who he really was.

There are three main audiences for this book: Those interested in Colonel Mosby, those interested in how the press handles men who are not currently in favor (as anyone from the Confederacy was at the time), and those interested in that period of history. The author points out that, but for a single news article, every press account has at least some inaccuracies in it. Some things never change.

For more about the book, and to order a copy to add to your own library, visit the Thousand Points of Truth web site.

Review written by Stephen Clay McGehee
MOS&B Webmaster