20th century

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 3:36pm
Author of the Month: Langston Hughes

"I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas." (From The Big Sea, one of Hughes’ autobiographies) 

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:36am
Cover to Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm

When I was a child, Thalhimer’s meant shopping—Christmas shopping in Richmond. It was one of the last grand old department stores before shopping malls took over, and it got itself gussied up for the holidays. We might come home with bars of marzipan or hermit crabs but always with stars in our eyes. It was a place of sweet and inventive dreams. Little did we know that the store’s founder had played an important part in making dreams of safety come true for many Jewish teenagers in World War II.

Robert H. Gillette’s previous book, The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue from Nazi Germany, gave an overview of how Mr. Thalhimer managed it.  In Gillette’s current work, Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm, readers learn the in-depth stories of two of the rescued teenagers.

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:47am
Cover to Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Rowena Caldwell was an intelligent, attractive young woman and a hard worker. Growing up in rural Ohio in the very early 1900s, there wasn’t much opportunity for someone in her circumstances. Born into a poor family with 15 brothers and sisters, she grew up to know farm work, but she also loved to read. At 19, she married 27-year-old, college-educated P.C. Gatewood. It wasn’t very long before the beatings started. And continued.

In 1940, having borne him eleven children and endured near constant torment, she left him. Few outside her community knew the part of her story she left behind her.  But everyone across America came to know “Grandma Gatewood,” the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail—more than 2,000 miles—from Georgia to Maine. By herself.

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 2:38pm
Woodstock Memories

More than forty years ago, crowds of young people converged on the quiet farming town of Bethel, New York, for a legendary concert. For many, it was the pivotal cultural event of their lives. Many of the Woodstock Generation may be at retirement age, but the memories of those wild summer days rock on in books, music, and video.

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 10:45am

Image courtesy of Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing, http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml

Feel like putting a little free spirit in your summer? Get on your oldest clothes, grab some buckets and rubber gloves, and head for the backyard to create beautiful tie-dye crafts.

You can use natural or artificial dyes, depending on whether you want your design to be a real eye-popper or something subtler that bespeaks being at one with nature. You can use a tie-dye kit or collect wild things from nature for earthier tones. Heck, even unsweetened Kool-Aid can be used as a dye to produce vivid color.

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 2:31pm

"That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors and officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea." (Resolution of the Continental Congress, 10 November 1775.)

November 10 marks the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for the creation of two battalions of Marines to serve the new nation. Each year in Marine posts throughout the world, traditions such as the birthday ball and the cutting of birthday cake continue, bonding generations of warriors together as they celebrate their shared brotherhood.

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 12:33am
Cover to The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis

Horses have long been an important part of culture in peace and war. An enormous amount of effort has gone into creating breeds that are the swiftest, strongest, bravest, hardiest, and most intelligent, depending on need. Partly a matter of status and partly a matter of practicality, the search for The Perfect Horse was one of the matters occupying the Nazi elite during World War II.

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 12:40pm
Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius.  It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around.   In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner.  In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges.  There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else.  This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 3:10pm

Film noir is not easily defined. The actual words come from French and mean "black cinema." It was in France during the post-war years that the term was used to describe a certain set of Hollywood films that were saturated with a darkness and cynicism that was not seen before. These movies included The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), Laura (1944), and Murder, My Sweet (1944).

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:43am
The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History by Jason Vuic

The Yugo was a small car made in the former nation of Yugoslavia that survives in the American consciousness as the ultimate automotive failure.  Poorly engineered, ugly, and cheap, it survived much longer as a punch line for comedians than it did as a vehicle on the roads.  The story of how this particular car became the most hated vehicle in the U.S. is a comedy of errors detailed in Jason Vuic’s book, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History.  A bewildering array of capitalist hucksters and impoverished communists desperate for revenue collaborated to create the Yugo, and what could have been a great international relations victory of the Cold War was ruined the moment consumers and auto critics actually got to drive it. Vuic examines the many failures of the Yugo venture and the people involved with a keen journalistic eye and a razor-sharp wit, making this a great read for anyone interested in automotive history or 1980s nostalgia.

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