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State & Local History


Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side Lowest new price: $14.20
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Author: Eve L. Ewing

“Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.”
 
That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.
 
But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.
 
Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike?
 
Ewing’s answer begins with a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history. Rooting her exploration in the historic African American neighborhood of Bronzeville, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs—as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.

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Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency

Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency Lowest new price: $17.61
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Author: Dan Abrams

The true story of Abraham Lincoln’s last murder trial, a case in which he had a deep personal involvement—and which played out in the nation’s newspapers as he began his presidential campaign

At the end of the summer of 1859, twenty-two-year-old Peachy Quinn Harrison went on trial for murder in Springfield, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln, who had been involved in more than three thousand cases—including more than twenty-five murder trials—during his two-decades-long career, was hired to defend him. This was to be his last great case as a lawyer.

What normally would have been a local case took on momentous meaning. Lincoln’s debates with Senator Stephen Douglas the previous fall had gained him a national following, transforming the little-known, self-taught lawyer into a respected politician. He was being urged to make a dark-horse run for the presidency in 1860. Taking this case involved great risk. His reputation was untarnished, but should he lose this trial, should Harrison be convicted of murder, the spotlight now focused so brightly on him might be dimmed. He had won his most recent murder trial with a daring and dramatic maneuver that had become a local legend, but another had ended with his client dangling from the end of a rope.

The case posed painful personal challenges for Lincoln. The murder victim had trained for the law in his office, and Lincoln had been his friend and his mentor. His accused killer, the young man Lincoln would defend, was the son of a close friend and loyal supporter. And to win this trial he would have to form an unholy allegiance with a longtime enemy, a revivalist preacher he had twice run against for political office—and who had bitterly slandered Lincoln as an “infidel…too lacking in faith” to be elected.

Lincoln’s Last Trial captures the presidential hopeful’s dramatic courtroom confrontations in vivid detail as he fights for his client—but also for his own blossoming political future. It is a moment in history that shines a light on our legal system, as in this case Lincoln fought a legal battle that remains incredibly relevant today.

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Thank You for Shopping: The Golden Age of Minnesota Department Stores

Thank You for Shopping: The Golden Age of Minnesota Department Stores Lowest new price: $22.49
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Author: Kristal Leebrick

Throughout the twentieth century, department stores ruled the retail landscapes of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. More than just shopping centers, stores like Dayton's, Powers, Donaldson's, Young-Quinlan, the Emporium, and the Golden Rule were centers of social life. From the legendary Dayton's Christmas displays to celebrating a special occasion at Schuneman's River Room, the department store was a destination for generations of Minnesotans, within the Twin Cities and beyond.

In Thank You for Shopping, author Kristal Leebrick presents the history and stories behind Minnesota's great department stores, offering a lively trip back to the glory days. Abundantly illustrated with vintage photos, postcards, advertisements, and artwork, the book explores the experience of shoppers and employees alike. Readers will revel in the fun, the fashion, and the thrill of discovery these stores provided.

The book also includes a chapter dedicated to the signature dishes—with recipes, menus, and photos—of the stores' esteemed dining establishments. And looking beyond the Twin Cities, Leebrick tells of beloved, locally owned stores in Brainerd (O’Brien's), Winona (Choate's), Duluth (Freimuth's), and other Minnesota cities and towns.

Thank You for Shopping is a nostalgic trip back for anybody who remembers the service, style, and charm of Minnesota's late, great department stores.

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Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas

Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas Lowest new price: $16.48
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Author: Tera Hatfield

This visually rich cultural atlas of Seattle explores the mercurial nature of place through the lens of one of the fastest growing cities in America. Through both experiential and data-driven cartography, Seattleness lends itself to longtime residents, newcomers to the city, and those curious about the moody borough that has brought us airplanes, grunge, gourmet coffee, and e-commerce.
 
In the style of Infinite City and Portlandness, this illustrated book examines an expansive range of topics from UFO sightings to pinball legacies, gray skies to frontier psychology, strong women and strong coffee. Compelling infographic visuals emerge from deep dives into data, unraveling over 50 real and strange narratives about the green metropolis perched at the edge of the Salish Sea. 

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Humans of New York : Stories

Humans of New York : Stories Lowest new price: $3.00
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Author: Brandon Stanton
Brand: St Martin s Press

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.

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John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court

John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court Lowest new price: $15.00
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Author: Richard Brookhiser

The life of John Marshall, Founding Father and America's premier chief justice

In 1801, a genial and brilliant Revolutionary War veteran and politician became the fourth chief justice of the United States. He would hold the post for 34 years (still a record), expounding the Constitution he loved. Before he joined the Supreme Court, it was the weakling of the federal government, lacking in dignity and clout. After he died, it could never be ignored again. Through three decades of dramatic cases involving businessmen, scoundrels, Native Americans, and slaves, Marshall defended the federal government against unruly states, established the Supreme Court's right to rebuke Congress or the president, and unleashed the power of American commerce. For better and for worse, he made the Supreme Court a pillar of American life.

In John Marshall, award-winning biographer Richard Brookhiser vividly chronicles America's greatest judge and the world he made.

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The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America Lowest new price: $5.29
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Author: Russell Shorto
Brand: Brand: Vintage

A gripping narrative of New Netherland–a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America.

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely lost, not destroyed: 12,000 pages of its records–recently declared a national treasure–are now being translated. Russell Shorto draws on this remarkable archive in The Island at the Center of the World, which has been hailed by The New York Times as “a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past.”

The Dutch colony pre-dated the “original” thirteen colonies, yet it seems strikingly familiar. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony. The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. The Island at the Center of the World uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on our own.

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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: $3.10
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Author: Timothy Egan
Brand: Egan, Timothy

"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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Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco

Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco Lowest new price: $19.24
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Author: Daniel J. Flynn

The untold story of the intersecting lives of the Reverend Jim Jones and Harvey Milk—marking the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre and Milk’s assassination

November 1978. The Reverend Jim Jones, the darling of the San Francisco political establishment, orchestrates the murders and suicides of 918 people at a remote jungle outpost in South America. Days later, Harvey Milk, one of America’s first openly gay elected officials—and one of Jim Jones’s most vocal supporters—is assassinated in San Francisco’s City Hall.

This horrifying sequence of events shocked the world. Almost immediately, the lives and deaths of Jim Jones and Harvey Milk became shrouded in myth. The distortions and omissions have piled up since.

Now, forty years later, this book corrects the record.

The product of a decade of research, including extensive archival work and ­dozens of exclusive interviews, Cult City reveals just how confused our understanding has become.

In life, Jim Jones enjoyed the support of prominent politicians and Hollywood stars even as he preached atheism and communism from the pulpit; in death, he transforms into a fringe figure, a “fundamentalist Christian,” and a “fascist.”

In life, Harvey Milk outed friends, faked hate crimes, and falsely claimed that the U.S. Navy dishonorably discharged him over his homosexuality; in death, he is honored in an Oscar-winning movie, with a California state holiday, and with a U.S. Navy ship named for him. His assassin, a blue-collar Democrat who often voted with Milk in support of gay issues, is remembered as a right-winger and a homophobe.

But the story extends far beyond Jones and Milk. Author Daniel J. Flynn vividly portrays the strange intersection of mainstream politics and murderous extremism in 1970s San Francisco—the hangover after the high of the Summer of Love.

In recounting the fascinating, intersecting lives of Jim Jones and ­Harvey Milk, Cult City tells the story of a great city gone horribly wrong.


 

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The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation

The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation Lowest new price: $21.40
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Author: Miriam Pawel

"Miriam Pawel’s fascinating book . . . illuminates the sea change in the nation’s politics in the last half of the 20th century."--New York Times Book Review

A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Publishers Weekly Top Ten History Books for Fall

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist's panoramic history of California and its impact on the nation, from the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley--told through the lens of the family dynasty that led the state for nearly a quarter century.

Even in the land of reinvention, the story is exceptional: Pat Brown, the beloved father who presided over California during an era of unmatched expansion; Jerry Brown, the cerebral son who became the youngest governor in modern times--and then returned three decades later as the oldest.

In The Browns of California, journalist and scholar Miriam Pawel weaves a narrative history that spans four generations, from August Schuckman, the Prussian immigrant who crossed the Plains in 1852 and settled on a northern California ranch, to his great-grandson Jerry Brown, who reclaimed the family homestead one hundred forty years later. Through the prism of their lives, we gain an essential understanding of California and an appreciation of its importance.

The magisterial story is enhanced by dozens of striking photos, many published for the first time. This book gives new insights to those steeped in California history, offers a corrective for those who confuse stereotypes and legend for fact, and opens new vistas for readers familiar with only the sketchiest outlines of a place habitually viewed from afar with a mix of envy and awe, disdain, and fascination.

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