The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe

American HistoryBiographiesBook ReviewsCivil War

Product DetailsThe Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe
By Elaine Showalter
Simon and Schuster
Retail Price:  $28.00
Amazon Price: $18.78

Book Description:  The first full biography of Julia Ward Howe—the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and an early and powerful feminist pioneer—a groundbreaking figure in the abolitionist and suffrage movements.

Julia Ward (1819–1910) was a heiress and aspiring poet when she married Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, an internationally-acclaimed pioneer in the education of the blind. Together the Howes knew many of the key figures of their era, from Charles Dickens to John Brown. But he also wasted her inheritance, isolated and discouraged her, and opposed her literary ambitions. Julia persisted, and continued to publish poems and plays while raising six children.

Authorship of the Battle Hymn of the Republic made her celebrated and revered. But Julia was also continuing to fight a civil war at home; she became a pacifist, suffragist, and world traveler. She came into her own as a tireless campaigner for women’s rights and social reform. Esteemed author Elaine Showalter tells the story of Howe’s determined self-creation and brings to life the society she inhabited and the obstacles she overcame.

Review

This is an excellent biography of Julia Ward Howe.  In case you are unsure of who Ms. Howe is, she is the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which first appeared in the February, 1862, issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine and was considered by many as the Civil War’s battle song of the Republic.   While this hymn was her claim to fame, Ms. Showalter gives us a complete look at Howe’s life from birth in 1819 to her spiritual re-birth and her death in 1910.  The book covers her early years and young adult years well, but goes more in depth regarding her courtship with Samuel Howe and her married life.  Julia really came into her own in midlife and beyond, where she laid the foundations for her legacy of civil rights support.   She was really an amazing woman who was a was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet.   This book gives you an intimate glimpse into her life and work. It is a must read for all you lovers of women’s history!

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    An Unlikely Union

    American History

     

    An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians
    By Paul Moses
    NYU Press
    Retail Price: $35.00
    Amazon Price: $31.50

    Book Description:

    They came from the poorest parts of Ireland and Italy, and met as rivals on the sidewalks of New York. In the nineteenth century and for long after, the Irish and Italians fought in the Catholic Church, on the waterfront, at construction sites, and in the streets. Then they made peace through romance, marrying each other on a large scale in the years after World War II. An Unlikely Union unfolds the dramatic story of how two of America’s largest ethnic groups learned to love and laugh with each other in the wake of decades of  animosity.
    The vibrant cast of characters features saints such as Mother Frances X. Cabrini, who stood up to the Irish American archbishop of New York when he tried to send her back to Italy, and sinners like Al Capone, who left his Irish wife home the night he shot it out with Brooklyn’s Irish mob. Also highlighted are the love affair between radical labor organizers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Carlo Tresca; Italian American gangster Paul Kelly’s alliance with Tammany’s “Big Tim” Sullivan; hero detective Joseph Petrosino’s struggle to be accepted in the Irish-run NYPD; and Frank Sinatra’s competition with Bing Crosby to be the country’s top male vocalist.   In this engaging history of the Irish and Italians, veteran New York City journalist and professor Paul Moses offers an archetypal American story. At a time of renewed fear of immigrants, it demonstrates that Americans are able to absorb tremendous social change and conflict—and come out the better for it.

    Review

    This book tells the story of immigrants coming to New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  While focusing on the Irish and Italians, he also notes how the arrival of Jews changed the social equation. It is a fascinating story, because New York holds special interest for all Americans, and because the story has been repeated with other ethnic groups throughout the country. The Catholic Church, the labor movement, and political organizations were fundamental elements that formed the culture in NYC in that era, while sports and entertainment also played a role. Moses tells how the Irish and the Italians competed but eventually found harmony in all these areas. The author is a fantastic storyteller and he makes this social history text interesting and very readable.

    ~Reviewed by Louis M.

     

     

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      Strong Inside

      BiographiesBlack History

      Strong Inside
      By Andrew Maraniss
      Vanderbilt University Press
      Retail Price $35.00
      Amazon Price: $25.82

      Book Description: 

      Based on more than eighty interviews, this fast-paced, richly detailed biography of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC, digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a more complicated and profound story of sports pioneering than we’ve come to expect from the genre. Perry Wallace’s unusually insightful and honest introspection reveals his inner thoughts throughout his journey.

      Wallace entered kindergarten the year that Brown v. Board of Education upended “separate but equal.” As a 12-year-old, he sneaked downtown to watch the sit-ins at Nashville’s lunch counters. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace entered high school, and later saw the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. On March 16, 1966, his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first integrated state tournament–the same day Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky Wildcats lost to the all-black Texas Western Miners in an iconic NCAA title game.

      The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt recruited him, Wallace courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the SEC. His experiences on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be nothing like he ever imagined.

      On campus, he encountered the leading civil rights figures of the day, including Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Robert Kennedy–and he led Vanderbilt’s small group of black students to a meeting with the university chancellor to push for better treatment.

      On the basketball court, he experienced an Ole Miss boycott and the rabid hate of the Mississippi State fans in Starkville. Following his freshman year, the NCAA instituted “the Lew Alcindor rule,” which deprived Wallace of his signature move, the slam dunk.

      Despite this attempt to limit the influence of a rising tide of black stars, the final basket of Wallace’s college career was a cathartic and defiant dunk, and the story Wallace told to the Vanderbilt Human Relations Committee and later The Tennessean was not the simple story of a triumphant trailblazer that many people wanted to hear. Yes, he had gone from hearing racial epithets when he appeared in his dormitory to being voted as the university’s most popular student, but, at the risk of being labeled “ungrateful,” he spoke truth to power in describing the daily slights and abuses he had overcome and what Martin Luther King had called “the agonizing loneliness of a pioneer.”

      Review

      This was an excellent read not only for the sports fan, but for those interested in civil rights as well.  The research was impeccable and his sources are well documented.  The book is both a detailed, engaging personal story but an insightful depiction of what went on underneath the surface in the struggle for integration. The interviews with Wallace himself were not only heart breaking, but inspiring as well.  We got to see what it was like growing ups black during that time period and how his rise to fame was overshadowed by the prejudice he endured.  Yet, his perseverance paved the way for other black athletes.

      ~Reviewed by Dave H.

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        A Delusion of Satan

        American HistoryBook ReviewsUnited States History

        A Delusion Of Satan
        By Frances Hill and Wanda McCaddon
        Tantor
        Retail Price $16.95
        Amazon Price: $13.79

        Book Description: 

        This acclaimed history illuminates the horrifying episode of Salem with visceral clarity, from those who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas to the four-year-old “witch” chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. Antonia Fraser called it “a grisly read and an engrossing one.”

        Review

        This is a very informative and well-researched book about life amongst the early inhabitants of the greater Boston area,  and how these folks ended up imprisoning and murdering a number of their own.  Using information from many primary sources, the author tells the tale of the grisly trials and their aftermath.   It is a wonderfully detailed, and factual look into the context of the Salem Witch persecution.  The audio version only adds to the intrigue of the story as you feel the drumbeat of accusations and hallucinations that continued for months before, during, and after the Trials. If you want to immerse yourself in the world surrounding the Witch Trials, this is the audiobook for you.

        ~Reviewed by Dave H.

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          Island on Fire

          Book ReviewsHistory BuffsNatural History

           

          Island on Fire
          By Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe
          Pegasus
          Retail Price $26.95
          Amazon Price: $19.86

          Book Description: 

          Can a single explosion change the course of history? An eruption at the end of the 18th century led to years of climate change while igniting famine, disease, even perhaps revolution. Laki is one of Iceland’s most fearsome volcanoes.

          Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years.  It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe.

          Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.

          B&W illustrations throughout

          Review

          I made a commitment this year to learn something new every month, from science to history, to technology and more.  This month I picked up Island on Fire because I didn’t know much about Iceland and never even heard of the Laki Volcano and its history.  This book was a wealth of information not only on the volcano itself, but on the aftermath of it’s eruptions throughout history including the devastating of effects of all the chemicals and materials spewed out during an eruption.  The authors  not only focus on Laki, but on other volcanoes as well.  The book is well written and the authors don’t bog you down with technical wording, but write in a very understandable manner.  It will be of great interest to history-buffs and science geeks alike.

          ~Reviewed by Dave H.

           

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            Empire of Cotton

            American HistoryBook ReviewsEconomic HistoryWorld History

            Emprie of Cotton
            By Sven Beckert
            Highbridge Audo
            Retail Price $35.00
            Amazon Price: $22.59

            Book Description: 

            The epic story of the rise and fall of the empire of cotton, its centrality to the world economy, and its making and remaking of global capitalism.

            Cotton is so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, yet understanding its history is key to understanding the origins of modern capitalism. Sven Beckert’s rich, fascinating book tells the story of how, in a remarkably brief period, European entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen recast the world’s most significant manufacturing industry, combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers to change the world. Here is the story of how, beginning well before the advent of machine production in the 1780s, these men captured ancient trades and skills in Asia, and combined them with the expropriation of lands in the Americas and the enslavement of African workers to crucially reshape the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia, and how industrial capitalism gave birth to an empire, and how this force transformed the world.

            The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the world of modern capitalism, including the vast wealth and disturbing inequalities that are with us today. The result is a book as unsettling as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist.

            Review

            I have decided to expand my horizons by using my long commute to work to study different topics that I never seem to have time for.  In order to do this I’ve found some great audiobooks to listen to that increase my knowledge.  I chose Empire of Cotton because of it’s discussion of economic history.  The book focuses on the development of capitalism and analyzes how slave labor played a big part in the growth of capitalism in the United States and throughout the world.   This audiobook was interesting to listen to.  The author is an academic historian who has a personal history in the cotton industry and brings a lot of knowledge to the table.  Anyone seriously interested in economic history, cotton, or globalization will profit from reading (or in my case listening) to this book.

            ~Reviewed by Jerry W.

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              The Bohemians

              Book ReviewsHistory BuffsLiterary History

              The Bohemians
              By Ben Tarnoff
              The Penguin Press
              Retail Price $27.95
              Amazon Price: $20.93

              Book Description: 

              The unforgettable story of the birth of modern America and the western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity.
              The Bohemians begins in 1860s San Francisco. The Gold Rush has ended; the Civil War threatens to tear apart the country. Far from the front lines, the city at the western edge roars. A global seaport, home to immigrants from five continents, San Francisco has become a complex urban society virtually overnight. The bards of the moment are the Bohemians: a young Mark Twain, fleeing the draft and seeking adventure; literary golden boy Bret Harte; struggling gay poet Charles Warren Stoddard; and beautiful, haunted Ina Coolbrith, poet and protectorate of the group. Ben Tarnoff’s elegant, atmospheric history reveals how these four pioneering western writers would together create a new American literature, unfettered by the heavy European influence that dominated the East.Twain arrives by stagecoach in San Francisco in 1863 and is fast drunk on champagne, oysters, and the city’s intoxicating energy. He finds that the war has only made California richer: the economy booms, newspapers and magazines thrive, and the dream of transcontinental train travel promises to soon become a reality. Twain and the Bohemians find inspiration in their surroundings: the dark ironies of frontier humor, the extravagant tales told around the campfires, and the youthful irreverence of the new world being formed in the west. The star of the moment is Bret Harte, a rising figure on the national scene and mentor to both Stoddard and Coolbrith. Young and ambitious, Twain and Harte form the Bohemian core. But as Harte’s star ascends—drawing attention from eastern taste makers such as the Atlantic Monthly—Twain flounders, questioning whether he should be a writer at all.

              The Bohemian moment would continue in Boston, New York, and London, and would achieve immortality in the writings of Mark Twain. San Francisco gave him his education as a writer and helped inspire the astonishing innovations that radically reimagined American literature. At once an intimate portrait of an eclectic, unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, The Bohemians reveals how a brief moment on the western frontier changed our country forever.

              Review

               

              The nineteenth-century countercultures that came to define the bohemian lifestyle spanned both sides of the Atlantic, ranging from Mark Twain, Walt Whitman to Josephine Baker, and from Gertrude Stein to Thelonius Monk. This book is an enlightening and very readable history of this movement and four of its illustrious figures, painting us a vivid picture of the lifestyle and the authors as they helped spread the movement.  It is a fun and enlightening read!

              ~Reviewed by Tim H.

               

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                Forgotten Fifteenth

                American HistoryHistory BuffsUnited States HistoryWorld HistoryWorld War II

                Forgotten Fifteenth
                By Barrett Tillman
                Regnery Publishing
                Retail Price $29.99
                Amazon Price: $18.95

                Book Description: 

                November 1943—May 1945—The U.S. Army Air Forces waged an unprecedentedly dogged and violent campaign against Hitler’s vital oil production and industrial plants on the Third Reich’s southern flank. Flying from southern Italy, far from the limelight enjoyed by the Eighth Air Force in England, the Fifteenth Air Force engaged in high-risk missions spanning most of the European continent. The story of the Fifteenth Air Force deserves a prideful place in the annals of American gallantry.

                In his new book, Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine, Tillman brings into focus a seldom-seen multinational cast of characters, including pilots from Axis nations Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria and many more remarkable individuals. They were the first generation of fliers—few of them professionals—to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against a major industrial nation. They suffered steady attrition and occasionally spectacular losses. In so doing, they contributed to the end of the most destructive war in history.

                Forgotten Fifteenth is the first-ever detailed account of the Fifteenth Air Force in World War II and the brave men that the history books have abandoned until now. Tillman proves this book is a must-read for military history enthusiasts, veterans, and current servicemen.

                Review

                This book makes an excellent purchase (or gift) for the military history buff.  The author brings to us a long-awaited recognition of the Fifteenth Air Force operations that were instrumental in bringing us to victory in WWII. The 15th Air Force, consisting of several bomb groups and multiple squadrons,  began flying missions out of Foggia, Italy in late 1943.  The last ground battle of the war was launched by The 15th Air Force from the Air.  The author’s research is impeccable enabling him to share their story on a very personal level. This book was interesting and informative, giving the reader an excellent overview of this often overlooked part of the war effort.  It was an excellent read.

                ~Reviewed by Mike T.

                 

                 

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                  The History of The Black Rifle

                  American HistoryGunsMilitary History

                  The Evolution of the Black Rifle
                  By Jeff Zimba
                  Prepper Press
                  Retail Price $12.95
                  Amazon Price: $11.66

                  Book Description: 

                  Jeff W Zimba brings the reader on a twenty-year journey through the testing and evaluation phase of America’s longest serving battle rifle, now known by many names, such as the AR-15, M16, M4, 416, and many others. From the History and Development of the Modern Black Rifle (an award winning, in-depth article) to accessories and configurations the reader may have never even heard about, this book includes numerous, previously published articles focused solely on the black rifle and includes a few of the author’s picks for new upgrades and systems to watch in the future. With a Foreword by legendary musician, outspoken outdoorsman, and 2nd Amendment advocate, Ted Nugent, and a Preface by a former Navy Seal of the elite Team 6 and member of the top secret team REDCELL, never before has such a compilation of articles on a single weapon system been published. Join Jeff Zimba on his journey to study (in his words) “the most versatile modular weapon system ever designed.”

                  Review

                  This book takes an in depth look at the M16 series of rifles and is a must have for the serious student and collector of the black rifle.  There is an huge amount of information in this book that just can not be found anywhere else. If you really want to know about the rifle from people who designed, built, improved, developed and redeveloped the system is to get this book.  It give and excellent history of how a weapon/weapon system is developed for the US military. Great insight into the engineering, R&D, testing and politics that created what is now considered a common platform for a modern semi-automatic rifle.  If you are interested to know why this series weapon system is still the reigning king of the US Military, read this book!

                  ~Reviewed by John C.

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                    Brandywine

                    American HistoryBook ReviewsHistory BuffsRevolutionary War

                    Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777

                    Brandywine
                    By Michael Harris
                    Savas Beatie
                    Retail Price $34.95
                    Amazon Price: $27.31

                    Book Description: 

                    Brandywine Creek calmly meanders through the Pennsylvania countryside today, but on September 11, 1777, it served as the scenic backdrop for the largest battle of the American Revolution, one that encompassed more troops over more land than any combat fought on American soil until the Civil War. Long overshadowed by the stunning American victory at Saratoga, the complex British campaign that defeated George Washington’s colonial army and led to the capture of the capital city of Philadelphia was one of the most important military events of the war. Michael C. Harris’s impressive Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, is the first full-length study of this pivotal engagement in many years.

                    General Sir William Howe launched his campaign in late July 1777, when he loaded his army of 16,500 British and Hessian soldiers aboard a 265-ship armada in New York and set sail. Six difficult weeks later Howe’s expedition landed near Elkton, Maryland, and moved north into Pennsylvania. Washington’s rebel army harassed Howe’s men at several locations including a minor but violent skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware on September 3. Another week of hit-and-run tactics followed until Howe was within three miles of Chads’s Ford on Brandywine Creek, behind which Washington had posted his army in strategic blocking positions along a six-mile front. The young colonial capital of Philadelphia was just 25 miles farther east.

                    Obscured by darkness and a heavy morning fog, General Howe initiated his plan of attack at 5:00 a.m. on September 11, pushing against the American center at Chads’s Ford with part of his army while the bulk of his command swung around Washington’s exposed right flank to deliver his coup de main, destroy the colonials, and march on Philadelphia. Warned of Howe’s flanking attack just in time, American generals turned their divisions to face the threat. The bitter fighting on Birmingham Hill drove the Americans from the field, but their heroic defensive stand saved Washington’s army from destruction and proved that the nascent Continental foot soldiers could stand toe-to-toe with their foe. Although fighting would follow, Philadelphia fell to Howe’s legions on September 26.

                     

                     

                    Review

                    This book is  well researched and presents an accurate portrayal of both the devastation and victory that enveloped the Battle of Brandywine.  The author gives a good account of all key players on both sides both leading up to, during, and after the battle.  Moving along at a good pace, the author draws you in to the story and the book is a  hard one to put down.  I learned so much about this battle and how it influenced the outcome of the entire war.  I found it fascinating!

                    ~Reviewed by Dave H.

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