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State & Local History


The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America

The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America Lowest new price: $17.99
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Author: Edward L. Ayers

A landmark Civil War history told from a fresh, deeply researched ground-level perspective.

At the crux of America’s history stand two astounding events: the immediate and complete destruction of the most powerful system of slavery in the modern world, followed by a political reconstruction in which new constitutions established the fundamental rights of citizens for formerly enslaved people. Few people living in 1860 would have dared imagine either event, and yet, in retrospect, both seem to have been inevitable.

In a beautifully crafted narrative, Edward L. Ayers restores the drama of the unexpected to the history of the Civil War. He does this by setting up at ground level in the Great Valley counties of Augusta, Virginia, and Franklin, Pennsylvania, communities that shared a prosperous landscape but were divided by the Mason-Dixon Line. From the same vantage point occupied by his unforgettable characters, Ayers captures the strategic savvy of Lee and his local lieutenants, and the clear vision of equal rights animating black troops from Pennsylvania. We see the war itself become a scourge to the Valley, its pitched battles punctuating a cycle of vicious attack and reprisal in which armies burned whole towns for retribution. In the weeks and months after emancipation, from the streets of Staunton, Virginia, we see black and white residents testing the limits of freedom as political leaders negotiate the terms of readmission to the Union.

Ayers deftly shows throughout how the dynamics of political opposition drove these momentous events, transforming once unimaginable outcomes into fact. With analysis as powerful as its narrative, here is a landmark history of the Civil War.

30 illustrations; 10 maps

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Border Country: The Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene, 1906–1916

Border Country: The Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene, 1906–1916 Lowest new price: $38.68
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Author: Martha Greene Phillips
Brand: Phillips Martha Greene

In the summer of 1906, a Milwaukee businessman set out with his young sons and some friends to canoe and camp in the north woods of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Canada. It was the first of several month-long journeys Howard Greene and “The Gang” would make over the years, each detailed in remarkable, handmade journals and documented in hundreds of large-format photographs. Reproduced here with a large selection of photographs and maps, these journals convey readers into a riverine world of outdoor adventure—a northland wilderness and way of life that were, even as Howard Greene charted their genuine charms, already vanishing. 

Introduced and annotated by Greene’s daughter, these observant narratives run rapids and portage and paddle lakes and rivers, including the Chippewa, Wisconsin, St. Croix, and Presque Isle as well as traveling in areas now in Quetico Provincial Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Along the way Greene, a skilled photographer, captures images of logging and mining operations, primitive dams and even more primitive camping, trading posts, and many remote Native American villages. Through it all runs the story of family and friendship forged over campfires in the north woods, reported with dry wit, a keen eye for detail, and an abiding interest in the natural world.

Composed decades before Sigurd Olson or Calvin Rutstrum began documenting the wild life of the upper Midwest, Howard Greene’s journals are a window into a world at once familiar and strange, the wilderness caught on the verge of becoming the North Woods we know today.

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  • Border Country The Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene 1906 1916

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The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge Lowest new price: $8.76
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Author: David McCullough
Brand: David McCullough

The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

In the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was viewed as the greatest engineering feat of mankind. The Roeblings--father and son--toiled for decades, fighting competitors, corrupt politicians, and the laws of nature to fabricate a bridge which, after 100 years, still provides one of the major avenues of access to one of the world's busiest cities--as compared to many bridges built at the same time which collapsed within decades or even years. It is refreshing to read such a magnificent story of real architecture and engineering in an era where these words refer to tiny bits and bytes that inspire awe only in their abstract consequences, and not in their tangible physical magnificence.

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  • The Great Bridge The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

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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: $13.22
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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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Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 Lowest new price: $19.42
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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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Lost Cleveland

Lost Cleveland Lowest new price: $19.95
Lowest used price: $54.66
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Author: Laura DeMarco

Organized chronologically, starting with the earliest losses and ending with the latest, this book features much-loved Cleveland institutions that have been consigned to history. Losses include: City Hall, Diebolt Brewing Co., Luna Park, Sheriff Street Market, Hotel Winton, League Park, Union Depot, Hotel Allerton, Leo’s Casino, Cleveland Arena, Bond Store, The Hippodrome, Cuyahoga and Williamson buildings, Record Rendezvous, Standard Theatre, Hough Bakery, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Memphis Drive-In, and Parmatown Mall.

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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: $9.99
Lowest used price: $8.80
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Author: Roger D. Hodge
Brand: Knopf Books

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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  • Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians�

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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl Lowest new price: $4.50
Lowest used price: $1.25
List price: $15.95
Author: Timothy Egan
Brand: Mariner Books

"The Worst Hard Time is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, conmen, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." — Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black blizzards, crop failure, and the deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survived—those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the grave—Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. Combining the human drama of Isaac's Storm with the sweep of The American People in the Great Depression, The Worst Hard Time is a lasting and important work of American history.

Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of four books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

“As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is can’t-put-it-down history.” —Walter Cronkite

"The Worst Hard Time is wonderful: ribbed like surf, and battering us with a national epic that ranks second only to the Revolution and the Civil War. Egan knows this and convincingly claims recognition for his subject—as we as a country finally accomplished, first with Lewis and Clark, and then for 'the greatest generation,' many of whose members of course were also survivors of the hardships of the Great Depression. This is a banner, heartfelt but informative book, full of energy, research, and compassion." —Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived

"Here's a terrific true story—who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy." —Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

"The American West got lucky when Tim Egan focused his acute powers of observation on its past and present. Egan's remarkable combination of clear analysis and warm empathy anchors his portrait of the women and men who held on to their places—and held on to their souls—through the nearly unimaginable miseries of the Dust Bowl. This book provides the finest mental exercise for people wanting to deepen, broaden, and strengthen their thinking about the relationship of human beings to this earth." —Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West

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The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living

The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living Lowest new price: $10.00
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Brand: Anchor

First published in 1972, The Foxfire Book was a surprise bestseller that brought Appalachia's philosophy of simple living to hundreds of thousands of readers. Whether you wanted to hunt game, bake the old-fashioned way, or learn the art of successful moonshining, The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center had a contact who could teach you how with clear, step-by-step instructions.

This classic debut volume of the acclaimed series covers a diverse array of crafts and practical skills, including log cabin building, hog dressing, basketmaking, cooking, fencemaking, crop planting, hunting, and moonshining, as well as a look at the history of local traditions like snake lore and faith healing.

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Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West Lowest new price: $9.91
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Author: Tom Clavin
Brand: Clavin Tom

The instant New York Times bestseller!

Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City’s streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West.

Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clavin's Dodge City tells the true story of their friendship, romances, gunfights, and adventures, along with the remarkable cast of characters they encountered along the way (including Wild Bill Hickock, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Theodore Roosevelt) that has gone largely untold―lost in the haze of Hollywood films and western fiction, until now.

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