I don’t recommend it, but federal prison is a good place to catch up on one’s reading. That’s how, anyway, I passed a lot of time. I had always been a military history buff, so I read about battles. It always fascinated me how in war, as in life, serendipity often plays the deciding role.
The improbable American victory at New Orleans at the close of the War of 1812, a battle in which several of my forebears fought, is a good example. Almost exactly 200 years ago, a fortuitous collusion between a frontier general and a dashing pirate whipped the finest army England had ever fielded. The general, of course, was Andrew Jackson. The pirate: Jean Lafitte. Both men were hard-bitten and determined, and mostly lucky–a quality each vainly attributed to a divine endowment.