Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

There are few words


image via Syndetics

MacKinlay Kantor seems like he was a pretty great guy.  While growing up in Iowa, he added an “a” to his middle name, McKinlay, because he thought it made it more Scottish; during WWII, while riding along on some bombing missions on assignment for an L.A. newspaper, he asked to be trained and allowed to use the plane’s turret machine guns (you know, just in case); and then, there’s this picture.

Levity aside, Kantor seems to have found his experiences in WWII quite formative.  Present at the liberation of the  Buchenwald concentration camp he was convinced to try and tell the story of an American “concentration camp”, Camp Sumter, a.k.a. Andersonville, bane of Union troops during the American Civil War.  There are few words.  Andersonville the prison was a living nightmare.  Extant images of survivors defy imagination.  Simply put, the design, execution, and maintenance of the camp was an atrocity visited upon mankind that has few peers.  It cost one of the Confederate officers in charge, Henry Wirz, his life for war crimes.

Kantor’s writing about the subject has a simple outward structure, yet is entirely compelling.  His characters live and breathe and have a piquant amount of human sensuality.  He is generous to many, even Henry Wirz, giving the lie to easy answers about responsibility for the evil that was Andersonville.  He is able to bring stories he heard face-to-face with Civil War veterans during his boyhood into play within the narrative, humanizing all sides of the conflict.  And he knows when to provide his readers with a miracle.  Contrary to my title for this post, Kantor uses many words in his story of Andersonville.  Some of the details are so overwhelming and the breadth of the book so great, readers could easily begin to lose hope of ever reaching the end or having any reason to.  A miracle (or two!) in the narrative leaves us with a residue of hope by the end and a reason to bother reflecting upon the history that contains such a happening.

“Craig is reading all of the Pulitzer-prize winning novels in chronological order.  See the origins of this journey here.”

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Cats vs Dogs? New books at ACPL

Here’s a quick look at some books we’ve recently added to the collection.  Something catch your eye?  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

If you’d like weekly updates on new additions to our collections, sign up for our New Arrivals newsletter by clicking here and following three easy steps.  Warning:  you may have to bring a couple of bookbags with you on your next visit!

good bad furry  dog years  rescued dog
 talking with dogs and cats  fit cat all dogs kevin

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, we’ve been celebrating workers on the first Monday of September since 1894.  If you’re interested in taking a look at some of your fellow workers’ experiences, you might want to check out these titles.

NPR refers to Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Turkel as the quintessential book about Labor Day.  First published in 1974, this book is a collection of interviews of more than 130 people around the country about their jobs.  Men and women from every walk of life talked to the Chicago radio broadcaster about their likes & dislikes, fears, problems and happinesses on the job.
Harlan County, U.S.A. is a documentary film about the Kentucky coal miners’ strike against the operators of the Brookside mine and the Duke Power Company in 1973.  The dvd focuses on the hostile conditions that the miners dealt with — the threats and bullying — as well as their everyday struggles with poverty and black lung disease.
In Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line by Ben Hamper, the author recounts his experiences as riveter for General Motors during the ’70s and ’80s.
Waiter Rant:  Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica.  Based on the award-winning blog, “Waiter Rant,” this book tells the story from the server’s point of view.
Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams edited by M.L. Liebler.  From the folk anthems of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie to the poems of Walt Whitman and Amiri Baraka, from the stories of Willa Cather and Bret Lott to the rabble-rousing work of Michael Moore, this transcendent volume touches upon all aspects of working-class life.

If you’re interested in more titles, we have plenty!  Search our catalog using the keywords “working class United States” or “labor unions” and take your pick!

While I’m grateful to have a full-time job that I love, I’m also grateful for Labor Day.  Weather permitting, I plan to spend the day with family.  Maybe I’ll ask my dad to tell me stories about his time working for the railroad.  What are your plans?

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Al Sharpton Visit

You might have heard that civil rights activist Al Sharpton will be visiting Fort Wayne. He will be speaking at Come as You Are Community Church on September 21st, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. It’s no secret that Sharpton is pretty polarizing. Whatever your views of the man, if you’d like to read more about the issues he will likely address, try one of these books.



John A. Rich is a doctor who interviewed dozens of African American men affected by urban violence. In Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black MenRich laments the fact that we as a society have come to see urban black violence as “normal” – even inevitable. He reminds us that these young men – even the ones that many people think “deserve” their injuries – are scarred by the violence and trauma they see on a daily basis. Like any of us, these young men and boys feel fear, loss, abandonment, and sorrow. If we just listen, we can learn so much from their stories.

The New alexanderJim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander argues that mass incarceration in America has taken over the role of Jim Crow laws designed to control and hinder the progress of young black men. Alexander cites statistics to show that African American men living in poverty are discriminated against in all phases of the legal process – policing, prosecuting, conviction, and sentencing.


Ta-Nehisi Coates’ beautifully written Between the World and Me is a letter to his teenage son – a letter filled with rage over what it means to be a black man in America. This book is on the bestseller list, so the library’s copies are probably all checked out. While waiting for a copy, you might start with The Beautiful Struggle, a fascinating look at Coates’ youth in urban Baltimore. Flirting with street life and ignoring school work, Coates found himself moving in another, more positive direction after becoming “Conscious” by discovering his African roots.

rileyJason Riley believes that well-intentioned social welfare programs actually hold black Americans back. In Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to SucceedRiley claims that social welfare programs have destroyed the black nuclear family and discouraged blacks’ financial self-sufficiency. He argues that liberal policies have only encouraged African Americans to embrace victimhood and entitlement – and that the solution is for white liberals to step away and allow black Americans to take responsibility for their future.


In Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country, Shelby Steele makes the case that liberal politicians exaggerate claims of racial inequality in order to justify overreaching public welfare programs. Steele argues that affirmative action and other programs have fostered a sense of victimization among black Americans and that it’s only through a return to personal freedom and merit-based competition that our society will achieve equality.

shapiroBen Shapiro’s Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans criticizes Sharpton, calling him a “race bully” and blaming him for inciting hatred and riots. Shapiro accuses Sharpton and other liberals of using bullying in the form of false accusations of sexism and racism in order to demonize conservatives and claim the moral high ground.



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World War II Legacies

WWII bk coverI love reading about World War II. It’s not the battle tactics, the strategies, or the overall historical views that interest me; it’s the personal stories. The books I love the most are those which focus on ordinary people who are thrown into incredibly difficult situations. Combatants and civilians alike have told amazing stories of bravery, treachery, suffering, heroism, love, and hatred.

Local author Kayleen Reusser is passionate about preserving the stories of WWII veterans. She has compiled stories from veterans living in this area in her new book World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. On September 3, the Dupont library will launch a new monthly program — also called World War II Legacies — facilitated by Kayleen Reusser and featuring local WWII veterans telling their stories. Join us on the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 at the Dupont branch.

In the meantime, check out some of my other favorite WWII books.

berlin Margarete Dos’ Letters from Berlin tells an important story — that of an average German family living through the war in Berlin and, later, living as prisoners in a Russian gulag. We cannot truly understand a war unless we see the stories from all sides.

tearsI was devastated by Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman. Before reading this one, I had no idea of the horrors that American prisoners endured at the hands of the Japanese. The men who survived the march ended up in prison camps, where they suffered through months of starvation, disease, and torture.

ghost soldiersHampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission describes the secret mission to rescue Bataan Death March survivors being held in Japanese prison camps on the Philippine island of Luzon.

In We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese, angelsElizabeth Norman tells the stories of women who served as nurses in the war. These amazing women cared for the injured and sick men while enduring starvation, disease, and injuries of their own.

old breedWith the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa was one of two books which formed the basis for the TV series The Pacific. Eugene Sledge writes of his experiences in two of the bloodiest battles of the war.

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New history books at ACPL

Here’s a quick look at some books we’ve recently added to the collection.  Something catch your eye?  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

If you’d like weekly updates on new additions to our collections, sign up for our New Arrivals newsletter by clicking here and following three easy steps.  Warning:  you may have to bring a couple of bookbags with you on your next visit!

Avenue of Spies  Baseball Stadium Insider  Last Soldiers of the Cold War
 Underground Railroad in Michigan  Hidden warships American Revolution

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Here’s a quick look at some books we’ve recently added to the collection.  Something catch your eye?  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

If you’d like weekly updates on new additions to our collections, sign up for our New Arrivals newsletter by clicking here and following three easy steps.

 texts  uncle johns  exams
 smartest book  art of not having  500 dates
 that should  mike dave  gene

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