Category Archives: Books

Opposition Vigil Planned at NYPL Fundraising Gala

New York Public Library (NYPL)The Committee to Save the New York Public Library will hold a vigil in opposition to the plans for the NYPL’s  42nd Street and Mid Manhattan Libraries on Monday, June 3rd, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at the 5th Avenue entrance to the 42nd Street Library.

The vigil will coincide with the New York Public Library Spring fundraising gala.  The event is co-sponsored by Citizens Defending Libraries, and will feature an appearance by Rev. Billy and his choir. Continue reading

Historian Russell Shorto Events In Albany Friday

Russell Shorto Jennifer MayRussell Shorto, bestselling historian of the Dutch colonial experience in America, will give a preview of his new book (to be published this coming October), Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue in downtown Albany.

Earlier that same day at 3:15 p.m., the author will deliver the Fossieck Lecture of the UAlbany History Department, “The Dutch Influence on American Colonial History,” in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Continue reading

History Books Featured As 2013 Pulitzer Winners

LogevallThe 97th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Letters, which includes Nonfiction, History, and Biography, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced today by Columbia University.

In the category of History, for a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) was awarded to “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam,” by Fredrik Logevall (Random House), a balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Washington Irving!

Erastus Dow Palmer, Washington Irving (1783-1859), 1865. Gift of Mrs. Anna T. E. Kirtland, as a memorial to Mr. Jared T. Kirtland, 1865.4On April 3, 1783 Writer and satirist Washington Irving was born in New York City. He best known for his short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” but I will always love him best for coining the name of New York’s basketball team!

In 1809, Irving published his first major book, A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Through the Knickerbocker pseudonym, Irving poked fun at the city’s self-important Dutch elite, in which Knickerbocker was a fairly common last name. He also pulled an elaborate prank in anticipation of the book’s release, posting “missing person” adverts in city newspapers, claiming Knickerbocker, a Dutch historian, had gone missing from his hotel room. Continue reading

Picturing Diasbility: Beggar, Freak, Citizen Photo Rhetoric

Midget, feeble-minded, crippled, lame, and insane: these terms and the historical photographs that accompany them may seem shocking to present-day audiences. A young woman with no arms wears a sequined tutu and smiles for the camera as she smokes a cigarette with her toes- a man holds up two prosthetic legs while his own legs are bared to the knees to show his missing feet.

The photos were used as promotional material for circus sideshows, charity drives, and art galleries. They were found on begging cards and in family albums. In Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen, and Other Photographic Rhetoric, Bogdan and his collaborators gather over 200 historical photographs showing how people with disabilities have been presented and exploring the contexts in which they were photographed. Continue reading

New Book: Reporting The Revolutionary War

Social media is often credited with igniting and organizing the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, yet this is not the first time that media has acted as a catalyst for large-scale political change.

Two hundred years ago during the American Revolution real-time reporting was responsible for uniting colonists looking to break free from British rule. Colonial newspaper reports kept the colonists motivated and informed, and without them, it’s possible the revolution may not have happened. Continue reading

Books: Fight All Day, March All NIght

In 1862 twenty-one-year-old Morris Brown Jr. left his studies at Hamilton College to take up the Union cause. He quickly rose in rank from sergeant major to captain and acting regimental commander for the 126th New York Volunteers. Fight All Day, March All Night: A Medal of Honor Recipient’s Story (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2012) is the narrative of a young Civil War officer, as told through his letters from the battlefield and edited by Civil War historian Wayne Mahood.

In letters written to his family in Penn Yan, New York, Brown describes his experiences at war: the unseemly carping between fellow officers, the fear that gripped men facing battle, and the longing to return home. Brown’s letters also reveal an ambitious young man who not only wanted recognition but also wanted to assure himself of a financial future. Continue reading

Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks

The Adirondack region has long been a favorite of skiers, as its mountains and snow cover provided a perfect landscape for downhill ski areas to develop during the Great Depression, when New Yorkers looked for an affordable escape to beat the winter blues. Over the decades, ski areas expanded with new lifts, lodges and trails. Despite the popularity of the sport, many ski areas have disappeared, yet countless people still hold fond memories of them.

Ski historian Jeremy Davis, the founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP), has released a new book on the subject. Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks (History Press, 2012). A lost ski area is “a ski area that once offered lift-served, organized skiing, but is now abandoned and closed for good. For NELSAP’s purposes it had to have a lift – it could be a simple rope tow or multiple chairlifts, but it had to have a lift. The size of the area or number of lifts isn’t important,” Davis told Adirondack Almanack‘-s Jeff Farbaniec in an interview last year. Continue reading

Louis Hensel: My Life in America

Details of mid-19th-century life come alive in the letters of a German immigrant, translated by Sigrid Wilshinsky and recently published as My Life in America Before, During and After the Civil War.

Louis Hensel was born in 1817 and lived a life of travel and adventure, as colorfully described in letters to his granddaughter back in Germany. Wilshinsky translated them from Suderlein German into modern English. Continue reading

Adirondack Trails with Tales: History Hiking Guide

Adirondack Trails with Tales: History Hikes through the Adirondack Park and the Lake George, Lake Champlain &amp- Mohawk Valley Regions (Blackdome Press, 2009) is by Albany writers Barbara Delaney and Russell Dunn, licensed guides and authors of books on the great outdoors of eastern New York and western New England. This guide is an effort to connect hikers with the history around them. The guide includes detailed directions, maps, photographs, and vintage postcards. Continue reading