Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More Book Reviews

by Carmen Doyle

The History Center has received FIVE new books since the book reviews in July. Now is the time to start making your holiday wish list!

New in the miscellaneous section (for books that don’t really fit in another category) is Aboite Township One-Room Schools by Deborah Eidson. The pictures of various schools are great and the amount of information is staggering. It is obvious that this book was done by someone who loved the Aboite schools.

A new Lincoln book has come in: Abraham Lincoln’s Wit & Wisdom. This is a collection of different sayings attributed to Lincoln. I particularly liked the section on Lincoln’s Generals, especially the remark about sending a barrel of whatever Grant drank to all the generals. I’ve heard versions of this remark before, and also heard that Lincoln never really did say that, so seeing the entire remark and attribution was rather neat. However, the editor says that he corrected Lincoln’s spelling and grammar to make the book easier to read. I think it would have been more interesting and informative to have left the original spelling and punctuation intact, in order to get an even better idea of how Lincoln thought. A great book for Lincoln fans though.

Another new book that has come in is Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress by Elizabeth Keckley. This book is really fascinating. Elizabeth Keckley worked as a seamstress for Mary Todd Lincoln, but before that, she was born into slavery, and then worked her way into Washington. She even served as a seamstress for Jefferson Davis before the Civil War. Fascinating story!

A new book about Native Americans that has come: “Thus Fell Tecumseh” by Frank E. Kuron. There is a debate about how the Shawnee leader Tecumseh died and this book addresses all the theories about what really happened. The book quotes from many primary sources, some of which disagree with each other about what really happened. This is a fascinating book for people interested in historical mysteries or the War of 1812. While the book description tries to make it sound as if YOU can solve the mystery, it’s more of a collection of event descriptions and discussions about what led to the events. Very interesting, except so many theories are put forth it can be overwhelming.

Two pictorial history books are new to the shop.

 Fort Wayne Postcards by Randolph L. Harter is a collection of over 200 postcards representing different scenes and events from Fort Wayne. This book was compiled with the help of the library and the History Center’s curator, Walter Font. (editor's note: Harter will be signing his books and showing the actual postcards on January 25 at the History Center)

The other pictorial history is Fort Wayne: a Pictorial Love Story by Gerald Gaff. This book has a “then-and-now” approach, with two pictures of the same place being taken decades apart and then placed facing each other. It is really cool to see how some places have completely changed (such as the mid block of Wayne looking east to Calhoun--one picture taken in 1890 and the other in 2009) and how some places have changed very little (such as the History Center in 1895 and 2009). This book was really enjoyable.

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