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State & Local History


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Lowest new price: $6.93
Lowest used price: $1.15
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Author: Erik Larson
Brand: Erik Larson

Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller In the Garden of Beasts—intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World's Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing. --John Moe

Features:

  • Chicago Exposition
  • Nineteenth Century
  • True Crime
  • Serial Killer
  • Thriller

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Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 (The History of NYC Series)

Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 (The History of NYC Series) Lowest new price: $30.05
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List price: $45.00
Author: Mike Wallace

In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, boundless energy, immigrant dreams, and Wall Street greed.

Within the first two decades of the twentieth century, a newly consolidated New York grew exponentially. The city exploded into the air, with skyscrapers jostling for prominence, and dove deep into the bedrock where massive underground networks of subways, water pipes, and electrical conduits sprawled beneath the city to serve a surging population of New Yorkers from all walks of life. New York was transformed in these two decades as the world's second-largest city and now its financial capital, thriving and sustained by the city's seemingly unlimited potential.

Wallace's new book matches its predecessor in pure page-turning appeal and takes America's greatest city to new heights.

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In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood Lowest new price: $8.00
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List price: $16.00
Author: Truman Capote
Brand: Truman Capote

National Bestseller 

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

"Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock's black '49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith's Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise--the blood on the walls and the final "thud-snap" of the rope-broken necks.

Features:

  • Great book!

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S Is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco

S Is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco Lowest new price: $28.46
List price: $45.00
Author: Editors of Garden and Gun

From the New York Times bestselling authors at Garden & Gun comes a lively compendium of Southern tradition and contemporary culture.

The American South is a diverse region with its own vocabulary, peculiarities, and complexities. Tennessee whiskey may technically be bourbon, but don’t let anyone in Kentucky hear you call it that. And while boiling blue crabs may be the norm across the Lowcountry in South Carolina and Georgia, try that in front of Marylanders and they’re likely to put you in the pot.

Now, from the editors of Garden & Gun comes this illustrated encyclopedia covering age-old traditions and current culture. S Is for Southern contains nearly five hundred entries spanning every letter of the alphabet, with essays from notable Southern writers including:

•           Roy Blount, Jr., on humidity

•           Frances Mayes on the magnolia

•           Jessica B. Harris on field peas

•           Rick Bragg on Harper Lee

•           Jon Meacham on the Civil War

•           Allison Glock on Dolly Parton

•           Randall Kenan on Edna Lewis

•           The Lee Brothers on boiled peanuts

•           Jonathan Miles on Larry Brown

•           Julia Reed on the Delta

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Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City

Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City Lowest new price: $17.99
Lowest used price: $21.19
List price: $29.99
Author: Julia Wertz

Here is New York, as you've never seen it before. A perfectly charming, sidesplittingly funny, intellectually entertaining illustrated history of the blocks, the buildings, and the guts of New York City, based on Julia Wertz's popular illustrated columns in The New Yorker and Harper's.

In Tenements, Towers & Trash, Julia Wertz takes us behind the New York that you think you know. Not the tourist's New York-the Statue of Liberty makes a brief appearance and the Empire State Building not at all-but the guts, the underbelly, of this city that never sleeps. With drawings and comics in her signature style, Wertz regales us with streetscapes "Then and Now" and little-known tales, such as the lost history of Kim's Video, the complicated and unresolved business of Ray's Pizza, the vintage trash and horse bones that litter the shore of Brooklyn's Bottle Beach, the ludicrous pinball prohibition, Staten Island's secret abandoned boatyard, and the hair-raising legend of the infamous abortionist of Fifth Avenue, Madame Restell. From bars, bakeries, and bookstores to food carts, street cleaners, and apartments both cramped and grand, Tenements, Towers & Trash is a wild ride in a time machine taxi from the present day city to bygone days of yore.

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Humans of New York : Stories

Humans of New York : Stories Lowest new price: $10.99
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List price: $29.99
Author: Brandon Stanton
Brand: Stanton Brandon

Now a #1 New York Times Bestseller! In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton began an ambitious project -to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. The photos he took and the accompanying interviews became the blog Humans of New York. His audience steadily grew from a few hundred followers to, at present count, over eighteen million. In 2013, his book Humans of New York, based on that blog, was published and immediately catapulted to the top of the NY Times Bestseller List where it has appeared for over forty-five weeks. Now, Brandon is back with the Humans of New York book that his loyal followers have been waiting for: Humans of New York: Stories. Ever since Brandon began interviewing people on the streets of New York, the dialogue he's had with them has increasingly become as in-depth, intriguing and moving as the photos themselves. Humans of New York: Stories presents a whole new group of people in stunning photographs, with a rich design and, most importantly, longer stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candor. Let Brandon Stanton and the Humans of New York he's photographed astonish you all over again.

Features:

  • Humans of New York Stories

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Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 Lowest new price: $20.93
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Author: Edwin G. Burrows
Brand: Burrows, Edwin G./ Wallace, Mike

To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe.

In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt; Colonel Waring and his "white angels" (who revolutionized the sanitation department); millionaires John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, and William Randolph Hearst; and hundreds more who left their mark on this great city.

The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.

Like the city it celebrates, Gotham is massive and endlessly fascinating. This narrative of well over 1,000 pages, written after more than two decades of collaborative research by history professors Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, copiously chronicles New York City from the primeval days of the Lenape Indians to the era when, with Teddy Roosevelt as police commissioner, the great American city became regarded as "Capital of the World." The sheer bulk of the book may be off- putting, but the reader can use a typically New York approach: Those who don't settle in for the entire history can easily "commute" in and out to read individual chapters, which stand alone nicely and cover the major themes of particular eras very well.

While Gotham is fact-laden (with a critical apparatus that includes a bibliography and two indices--one for names, another for subjects), the prose admirably achieves both clarity and style. "What is our take, our angle, our schtick?" ask the authors, setting a distinctly New York tone in their introduction. No matter what it's called, their method of weaving together countless stories works wonderfully. The startlingly detailed research and lively writing bring innumerable characters (from Peter Minuit to Boss Tweed) to life, and even those who think they know the history of New York City will no doubt find surprises on nearly every page. Gotham is a rarity, reigning as both authoritative history and page-turning story. --Robert McNamara

Features:

  • Oxford University Press

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Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands

Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands Lowest new price: $13.97
Lowest used price: $12.59
List price: $28.95
Author: Roger D. Hodge

In the tradition of Ian Frazier's Great Plains, and as vivid as the work of Cormac McCarthy, an intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family.

What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance. A wholly original fusion of memoir and history--as piercing as it is elegiac--Texas Blood is a triumph.

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Humans of New York

Humans of New York Lowest new price: $5.68
Lowest used price: $1.64
List price: $29.99
Author: Brandon Stanton
Brand: Brandon Stanton

Based on the blog with more than four million loyal fans, a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city

Now an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, Humans of New York began in the summer of 2010, when photographer Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called "Humans of New York," in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

The blog has steadily grown, now boasting millions of devoted followers. Humans of New York is the book inspired by the blog. With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Surprising and moving, printed in a beautiful full-color, hardbound edition, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city.


With 400 full-color photos and a distinctive vellum jacket

The Top 5 Humans of New York

Brandon Stanton's thousands of not-quite-candid street portraits of New Yorkers (and accompanying captions, usually from the subjects themselves) have made his Humans of New York blog both poignant and extremely popular--as well as garnering him recognition as one of Time magazine's "30 People Under 30 Changing the World." This book of the same title collects 400 of his best portraits, telling small stories that are outsized in their humor, candor, and humanity. It was also our number one pick for the best books of the year in Photography.

Here are Stanton's own top five favorite images, accompanied by his own words. Click on the images to see larger versions, and learn more about Humans of New York. It also makes a wonderful gift for any of the humans in your life.

-- Jon Foro

 

1) Ironically, some of the best quotes come from the people who have the least amount of time to talk to me. She told me: "I can't talk, because these shadows are changing every second." Normally I'm a bit downtrodden if I'm unable to interview a subject, but I thought her 'brush-off' was the perfect complement to the photo.

Click here for a larger image
 
 

2) I always cite this photo as representing the most emotional interaction that I've ever had on the street. I came across this 100 year old woman just south of Central Park. She was walking in a rainstorm with a very bright umbrella. After I took her photo, I got under the umbrella with her, and asked her for one piece of advice. She said: "I'll tell you what my husband told me when he was dying. I asked him: 'Mo, how am I supposed to live without you?' And he told me: 'Take the love you have for me and spread it around.'"

Click here for a larger image
 
 

3) I was walking through Chelsea one morning when I noticed someone rolling around in the middle of the street. Of course I started running toward the scene, and when I arrived, I found this drag queen. Apparently she had been performing a song at a nearby bar, and at the climax of her performance, ran into the street and threw her tips into the air. I joke that this photo captures more elements of New York than any other I've taken.

Click here for a larger image
 
 

4) I love this photo because of the variety of expressions that I managed to capture. I found these kids in the Lower East Side, making the most of a hot summer day. Right before I took the photo, one of the kids leaned a little too far forwards and started spilling water from the pool. This created a variety of different responses from his fellow swimmers.

Click here for a larger image
 
 

5) The young boy seemed so unwilling to participate in the portrait, that at first it seemed like a photo would be impossible. But his shyness ended up coming through beautifully, creating a portrait of the relationship between mother and son.

Click here for a larger image
 

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013: The thing that always amazes me about New York is that it works at all: so many people, stacked on top of each other in apartments or wedged side-by-side on the streets, that it once seemed--to my admittedly West Coast eyes--that there could be no room to breathe, to stretch, to be human in such a seemingly inhumane environment. Even the garbage (the literal garbage; no Travis Bickle allusions here) is pushed to the sidewalk--there’s not even space between buildings to hide it. But once I’d been there--admittedly late--I understood that it’s the people themselves that make it work; that diversity and self-expression (not to mention the necessity) create a kind of space on their own. Brandon Stanton gets it. His thousands of not-quite-candid street portraits of New Yorkers (and accompanying captions, usually from the subjects themselves) have made his Humans of New York blog both poignant and extremely popular. And now, his book of the same title collects 400 of his best portraits, telling small stories that are outsized in their humor, candor, and humanity. As it turns out, inner-space is a dimension all its own, and it counts, too. --Jon Foro

Features:

  • Humans of New York

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The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age

The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age Lowest new price: $17.68
Lowest used price: $17.96
List price: $28.00
Author: Sridhar Pappu

The Year of the Pitcher is the story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series contests ever, with the Detroit Tigers coming back from a 3–1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in Game Seven of the World Series.

In 1968, two remarkable pitchers would dominate the game as well as the broadsheets. One was black, the other white. Bob Gibson, together with the St. Louis Cardinals, embodied an entire generation's hope for integration at a heated moment in American history. Denny McLain, his adversary, was a crass self-promoter who eschewed the team charter and his Detroit Tigers teammates to zip cross-country in his own plane. For one season, the nation watched as these two men and their teams swept their respective league championships to meet at the World Series. Gibson set a major league record that year with a 1.12 ERA. McLain won more than 30 games in 1968, a feat not achieved since 1934 and untouched since. Together, the two have come to stand as iconic symbols, giving the fans “The Year of the Pitcher” and changing the game. Evoking a nostalgic season and its incredible characters, this is the story of one of the great rivalries in sports and an indelible portrait of the national pastime during a turbulent year—and the two men who electrified fans from all walks of life.

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