Daniel Weinberg talked with David Garrow on A House Divided. They discussed Garrow’s latest book, Rising Star, The Making of Barack Obama. There are a few copies available.Order your signed copy today.
Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted the little-known state senator from Illinois into the national spotlight. Three months later, Obama would win election to the U.S. Senate; four years later he would make history as America’s first black president. Now, at the end of his second presidential term, David J. Garrow delivers the most compelling and comprehensive biography ever written of Obama in the years preceding his presidency.
Moving around the globe, from Hawaii to Indonesia to the American Northeast and Midwest, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama meticulously unpacks Obama’s life, from his tumultuous upbringing in Honolulu and Jakarta, to his formative time as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, working in some of the roughest neighborhoods, to Cambridge, where he excelled at Harvard Law School, and finally back to Chicago, where he pursued his political destiny. In voluminous detail, drawn from more than 1,000 interviews and encyclopedic documentary research, Garrow reveals as never before the ambition, the dreams, and the all-too-human struggles of an iconic president in a sure to be news-making biography that will stand as the most authoritative account of Obama’s pre-presidential life for decades to come.
Bjorn Skaptason talked with Pamela Toler, PhD about her new book, Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War.
Heroines of Mercy Street tells the true stories of the nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia mansion turned wartime hospital and setting for the PBS drama Mercy Street. Among the Union soldiers, doctors, wounded men from both sides, freed slaves, politicians, speculators and spies who passed through the hospital in the crossroads of the Civil War, were nurses who gave their time to save lives and aid the wounded.
Civil War nurses ushered in a new era for medicine in the midst of tremendous hardship. While the country was at war, these women not only learned to advocate and care for patients in hostile settings, saved countless lives, and changed the profession forever, they regularly fell ill with no one to nurse them in return, seethed in anger at the indifference and inefficiency that left wounded men on the battlefield without care, and all too often mourned for those they could not rescue.
Heroines ofMercy Street tells the true stories of the Civil War nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia, hotel turned wartime hospital and setting for the PBS show Mercy Street. Women like Dorothea Dix, Mary Phinney, Anne Reading, and more rushed to be of service to their country during the war, meeting challenges that would discourage less determined souls every step of the way. They saw casualties on a scale Americans had never seen before; diseases like typhoid and dysentery were rampant; and working conditions-both physically and emotionally–were abysmal.
Drawing on the diaries, letters, and books written by these nursing pioneers, Pamela D. Toler, PhD, has written a fascinating portrait of true heroines, shining a light on their personal contributions during one of our country’s most turbulent periods.
Daniel Weinberg talked with Jodi Kanter about her book, Presidential Libraries as Performance. Brian Dirck was scheduled to talk about Lincoln in Indiana, but was unable to attend.
Kanter’s Presidential Libraries as Performance considers the moments in the presidents’ lives the museums choose to interpret, and not to interpret, and how the libraries approach common subjects in the presidential museum narrative—the presidents’ early years in relation to cultural ideals, the libraries’ representations of presidential failures, personal and political, and the question of presidential legacy. Kanter demonstrates how the presidential libraries generate normative narratives about individual presidents, historical events, and what it means to be an American.
Dirck’s Lincoln in Indianatells the story of Lincoln’s life in Indiana, from his family’s arrival to their departure. Dirck explains the Lincoln family’s ancestry and how they and their relatives came to settle near Pigeon Creek. He shows how frontier families like the Lincolns created complex farms out of wooded areas, fashioned rough livelihoods, and developed tight-knit communities in the unforgiving Indiana wilderness. With evocative prose, he describes the youthful Lincoln’s relationship with members of his immediate and extended family. A triumph of research, Dirck cuts through the myths about Lincoln’s early life, and along the way he explores the social, cultural, and economic issues of early nineteenth-century Indiana. The result is a realistic portrait of the youthful Lincoln set against the backdrop of American frontier culture. It is part of the Concise Lincoln Library.
Both titles are published by Southern Illinois University Press. Both are available in 1st edition, signed. Order Now.
Bjorn Skaptason talked with Greer MacAllister about her latest book, Girl in Disguise. Inspired by the real story of investigator Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.
With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin―unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective.
Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency’s toughest investigations. But is the woman she’s becoming―capable of any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses―the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was?
Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist who earned her MFA in Creative Writing from American University. Her debut novel The Magician’s Lie was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. It has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films.
Daniel Weinberg talked with Judith Giesberg about her book, Sex and the Civil War and Jonathan W. White, author of Midnight in America.
Giesberg, a professor of history at Villanova University, has written the first serious study of the erotica and pornography that nineteenth-century American soldiers read and shared. She links them to the postwar reaction to pornography and to debates about the future of sex and marriage. Sex and the Civil War examines the social changes that occurred in human relations—including the regulation of sex and reproduction—most evident in the Comstock laws, a federal law and a series of state measures outlawing pornography, contraception, and abortion.
White, associate professor of American studies at Christopher Newport University, has written an innovative new study that explores what dreams meant to Civil War–era Americans and what their dreams reveal about their experiences during the war. Midnight in America shows how Americans grappled with their fears, desires, and struggles while they slept, and how their dreams helped them make sense of the confusion, despair, and loneliness that engulfed them.
We have limited copies of both books, signed, in first edition.
George Saunders’Lincoln in the Bardo is now available. Already in its 4th printing. the novel debuted at No 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers Fiction List. We have only a few signed, first editions available. They are selling fast!
George Saunders joined us on A House Divided on March 2 to talk about his long-awaited debut novel.
Lincoln in the Bardo isa moving and original father-son story featuring Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented.
February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.
From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying.
February 9, our own Bjorn Skaptason talked to the authors of The Ultimate Guide to the Gettysburg Address. David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften returned to our program with their always fascinating take on Lincoln’s use of Euclid. Their previous work, Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason was the first book in what has become a fascinating and recuring theme.
Abraham Lincoln’s November 19, 1863, Gettysburg Address is generally recognized as one of the greatest leadership speeches ever written. The Ultimate Guide to the Gettysburg Address explains the 272-word speech more thoroughly than any book previously published. With the aid of colorized step-by-step diagrams, the authors deconstruct the speech into its basic elements and demonstrate how the scientific method is basic to the structure of the Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln’s fascination with geometry is well documented. Authors David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften, however, are the first to discover and then demonstrate Lincoln’s use of the six elements of a proposition and then diagram and explain how his in-depth study of geometry helped him compose the Gettysburg Address. The result is a deeper and richer understanding of the Gettysburg Address that was not previously possible. This concise color examination of one of our nation’s most treasured and important speeches is perfect for all ages and especially for those interested in history, the use of language, and logic.
Noah Andre Trudeau joined us on A House Divided to talk about his latest book, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey.
Trudeau’s Lincoln’s Greatest Journey represents an important addition to the Lincoln saga. The conventional wisdom that there’s nothing new to be learned about Lincoln is due for a major reset.
A vast and terrible civil war was winding down, leaving momentous questions for a war-weary president to address. A timely invitation from General U. S. Grant provided the impetus for an escape to City Point, Virginia, a journey from which Abraham Lincoln drew much more than he ever expected. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865, offers the first comprehensive account of a momentous time.
Previous coverage of this unprecedented trip—his longest break from the White House since he had taken office—has been sketchy at best, and often based on seriously flawed sources. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey represents the most extensively researched and detailed story of these decisive sixteen days at City Point in a narrative laden with many heretofore unpublished accounts. The richly shaped prose, a hallmark of Trudeau’s pen, rewrites much of the heretofore misunderstood story of what really happened to Lincoln during this time.
A fresh, more complete picture of Lincoln emerges. This is Lincoln at a time of great personal and national change—the story of how he made peace with the past and became firmly future-focused, all set against a dramatically new narrative of what really happened during those last weeks of his life. It infuses the well-worn Lincoln narrative with fresh sources to fundamentally change an often-told story in ways large and small. Order Your Signed, 1st Edition Copy Today.
Watch The Program:
Due to a schedule conflict, Mark Zwonitzer wasn’t on the program. We do have copies of his book. Order Your Copy Today.
Zwonitzer’s The Statesman and the Storyteller is a dual biography covering the last ten years of the lives of friends and contemporaries, writer Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and statesman John Hay (who served as secretary of state under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt), The Statesman and the Storyteller not only provides an intimate look into the daily lives of these men but also creates an elucidating portrait of the United States on the verge of emerging as a world power.
And just as the narrative details the wisdom, and the occasional missteps, of two great men during a tumultuous time, it also penetrates the seat of power in Washington as the nation strove to make itself known internationally–and in the process committed acts antithetical to America’s professed ideals and promises.
Written with a keen eye–Mark Zwonitzer is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker–and informed by the author’s deep understanding of the patterns of history, The Statesman and the Storyteller has the compelling pace of a novel, the epic sweep of historical writing at its best, and, in capturing the essence of the lives of Hay and Twain, the humanity and nuance of masterful biography.
Timothy Smith and David Powell joined us on A House Divided, at AuthorsVoice.net.
On November 12, Bjorn Skaptason interviewed Timothy Smith about is latest book, Grant Invades Tennessee. The book gives readers a battlefield view of the fight for Forts Henry and Donelson, as well as a critical wide-angle perspective on their broader meaning in the conduct and outcome of the war. The first comprehensive tactical treatment of these decisive battles, this book completes the trilogy of the Tennessee River campaign that Smith began in Shiloh and Corinth 1862, marking a milestone in Civil War history.
Whether detailing command-level decisions or using eye-witness anecdotes to describe events on the ground, walking readers through maps or pulling back for an assessment of strategy, this finely written work is equally sure on matters of combat and context. Order Your Copy Today.
Bjorn also spoke with David Powell about his latest work, The Chickamauga Campaign: A Barren Victory. Barren Victory, the final installment in his Chickamauga Campaign series, examines the immediate aftermath of this great battle with unprecedented clarity and detail. The narrative opens at dawn on Monday, September 21, 1863, with Union commander William S. Rosecrans in Chattanooga and most of the rest of his Federal army in Rossville, Georgia. Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg has won the signal victory of his career, but has yet to fully grasp that fact or the fruits of his success. Unfortunately for the South, three grueling days of combat has broken down the Army of Tennessee and made a vigorous pursuit nearly impossible.
In addition to carefully examining the decisions made by each army commander and their consequences, Powell sets forth the dreadful costs of the fighting in terms of the human suffering involved. Barren Victory concludes with the most detailed order of battle (including unit strengths and losses) for Chickamauga ever compiled, and a comprehensive bibliography. A Barren Victory, plus the other titles in the series are available, Order Yours Today.