Monday, February 23, 2009

Animal Farm

Animal Farm
by George Orwell

Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democratic socialist and a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel 'contre Stalin'.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Civil Disobedience

"Civil Disobedience"
by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) championed the belief that people of conscience were at liberty to follow their own opinion, and we see Thoreau as the individualist and opponent of injustice. "Civil Disobedience" (1849), composed following Thoreau's imprisonment for refusing to pay his taxes in protest against slavery and the Mexican War, is an eloquent declaration of the principles that make revolution inevitable in times of political dishonor.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education: The Case Against School Segregation
by Wayne Anderson

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." The decision effectively denied the legal basis for segregation in the 21 states that still allowed segregated classrooms. This decision forever changed race relations in the United States. Through the use of primary source materials, this book provides the background of race relations in America, differences in amenities for blacks and whites, and information on other court cases that impacted this decision.

The Filipino Americans

The Filipino Americans
The People of North America Seriesby Jennifer Stern

The earliest Filipino Americans to arrive in the New World landed in 1763 and created a settlement in Saint Malo, Louisiana. They were pressed sailors escaping from the cruelty of Spanish galleons and were "discovered" in America in 1883 by a Harper's Weekly journalist. Other Filipino American settlements appeared throughout the bayous of Louisiana with the Manila Village in Barataria Bay being the largest. Some immigration occurred with the need for menial rural labor in the late 1800s, with Filipino Americans settling primarily in Hawaii and California. Roughly another two hundred years would pass before significant numbers arrived in the Americas in the last half of the 20th century starting in the 1970s, mostly settling in California and the South. Some came looking for political freedom, but most arrived looking for employment and a better life for their families.

The Republic

The Republic
by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written in approximately 380 BC. In Plato's fictional dialogues the characters of Socrates as well as various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether the just man is happier than the unjust man by constructing an imaginary city ruled by philosopher-kings. The dialogue also discusses the nature of the philosopher, Plato's Theory of Forms, the conflict between philosophy and poetry, and the immortality of the soul.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Plessy v. Ferguson

Plessy v. Ferguson: Legalizing Segregation
by Wayne Anderson

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation even in public accommodations (particularly railroads), under the doctrine of "separate but equal".

The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1, with the majority opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown and the dissent written by Justice John Marshall Harlan. Justice David Josiah Brewer did not participate in the decision. "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.

After the high court ruled, the New Orleans Comité des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens) that had brought the suit and that had arranged for Homer Plessy's arrest in order to challenge Louisiana's segregation law, replied, “We, as freemen, still believe that we were right and our cause is sacred.”We As Freeman: Plessy v. Ferguson: The Fight Against Legal Segregation by Keith Weldon Medley.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sin in Soft Focus

Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood
by Mark A. Vieira

Sin in Soft Focus showcases a scintillating era in film history-"pre-Code Hollywood"-that boldly creative period in the early 1930s when defiant producers flouted the restrictions of the censors, who tried-but failed-to ban everything from sex, profanity, and excessive violence to racial mingling, drugs, and even "lustful kissing." Lavishly illustrated with film stills, many of them rare, the book captures the stunning artistry and bravura of the era's controversial films. Here are Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, and Marlene Dietrich portraying powerful women of questionable character; here too are James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and Paul Muni rising to fame as gangsters, gamblers, and debauched criminals. The first book to treat the pre-Code films as a discrete body of work, this lively volume is both substantive and appealing.

The Illustrated Red Baron

The Illustrated Red Baron: The Life and Times of Manfred von Richthofen
by Peter Kilduff

Trace the legend, from its beginning to the final patrol. Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the top-scoring fighter ace of the First World War, remains practically without peer. In his short, but very glittering, career, this handsome, athletic, chivalrous, and gallant man had what is now called "star power," becoming an inspiration to fellow pilots and countrymen alike. His history unfolds here in generously annotated photographic biography, filled with 220 rare images that illuminate Richthofen's public and private lives. "...a distinguished historian of World War I aviation...offers...distinguished, illustrated coverage of...the legendary Red Baron. Making use of material, including photographs, from Richthofen family archives that were long sequestered by the Communists, Kilduff comprehensively summarizes Richthofen's career, mentors, comrades, aircraft, and opponents....a superior collection of graphic material concerning World War I aviation generally."—Booklist

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miranda v. Arizona

Miranda v. Arizona: Rights of the Accused
by Gail Blasser Riley

Thorough, objective presentations that discuss the events subsequent to famous Supreme Court decisions, the sentiment of the country at the time, and the people involved in the litigation. Herda's book includes an abundance of information, but reads like a textbook; Riley's lively coverage of specific events contributes to the readability of her book. The information is available in a number of reference sources such as Maureen Harrison and Steve Gilbert's Landmark Decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

Miranda v. Arizona was a landmark 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court which was argued February 28–March 1, 1966 and decided June 13, 1966. The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them.


by David McCullough

David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost—Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.

The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Scopes Trial

The Scopes Trial: Defending the Right to Teach
by Arthur Blake

This famous case brought together two of the nation's best-known orators, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. Blake successfully presents both sides of the controversy in this riveting account that puts readers right in the middle of the courtroom- they will feel the tension and heat of those July days. He provides readers with an informative look at an often misunderstood event (the defense wanted to lose the case locally so that it could be appealed to the State Supreme Court, where they hoped to have the law declared unconstitutional). The account ends by pointing out that an individual or group's religious beliefs should not interfere with the rights of others to teach or to learn, and that teachers must be free to teach all knowledge in all disciplines. Many black-and-white photographs taken at the trial are included.