Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Here Is Your War

Here Is Your Warby Ernie Pyle

A wonderful and enduring tribute to American troops in the Second World War, Here Is Your War is Ernie Pyle’s story of the soldiers’ first campaign against the enemy in North Africa. With unequaled humanity and insight, Pyle tells how people from a cross-section of America—ranches, inner cities, small mountain farms, and college towns—learned to fight a war. The Allied campaign and ultimate victory in North Africa was built on blood, brave deeds, sacrifice and needless loss, exotic vistas, endurance, homesickness, and an unmistakable American sense of humor. It’s all here—the suspenseful landing at Oran; the risks taken daily by fighter and bomber pilots; grim, unrelenting combat in the desert and mountains of Tunisia; a ferocious tank battle that ended in defeat for the inexperienced Americans; and the final victory at Tunis. Pyle’s keen observations relate the full story of ordinary G.I.s caught up in extraordinary times.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Present Tense

Present Tense: The United States Since 1945
by Michael Schaller, Virginia Scharff, and Robert D. Schulzinger

Respected for its coverage of foreign policy and domestic politics, Present Tense also provides a thorough examination of social and cultural history. This edition includes a greater focus on the 1970s and 1980s, and increased coverage of recent immigration.

Michael Schaller is professor of history at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1974. Schaller specializes in American foreign relations, U.S.-East Asian relations, and 20th-century U.S. history. His publications cover such topics as World War II in China, the occupation of Japan, the life of General Douglas MacArthur, and the presidency of Ronald Reagan. He regularly teaches courses on the U.S. since World War II, American relations with Asia, the Vietnam War, and American foreign relations.

Robert Schulzinger is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his Ph.D from Yale University in 1971. His areas of expertise are American diplomatic and recent U.S. history. His many publications include A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam (1977), American Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (1994), and Henry Kissinger: Doctor of Diplomacy (1993). He currently serves as the director of the International Affairs Program at the University of Colorado.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.

Taught everywhere—from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing—it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coming of Age in Mississippi

Coming of Age in Mississippi
by Anne Moody

When Anne is four years old, she and her mother, Toosweet, her father, Diddly, and her younger sister, Adline, live in a two-room shack on a plantation. None of the shacks of the black plantation workers has electricity or indoor plumbing, while the Carter family’s house has both. At night, when the white family’s house is the only one lit up, Anne’s mother says the plantation owner is counting money he made off of them. While Anne’s parents are out working in the fields during the day, George Lee, Toosweet’s eight-year-old brother, watches Anne and her sister inside. Resentful of having to babysit, George Lee hits the girls and one day accidentally sets the wallpaper on fire while trying to scare them with matches.

Amid anxieties over money, the fire, and the death of his best friend, Diddly eventually leaves the family for an affair with Florence, a lighter-skinned black woman. Toosweet and the children, who now include a son, Junior, eventually move to at least six different houses over the next six years. Toosweet works as a waitress at a cafĂ© for blacks, and then as a maid for white families. Toosweet’s family is constantly hungry, often eating only bread and beans supplemented by table scraps from Toosweet’s white employers. Still, Anne does exceptionally well in school. In the fourth grade, Anne begins working part-time cleaning the houses of white families. She will continue working until her senior year of high school, spending most of her after-school hours doing menial jobs in order to put food on the family’s table. Most of her employers are fairly easy to get along with. The Claibornes even encourage Anne in her studies and ask her to eat with them at their table. But Mrs. Burke, a nasty woman and a racist, makes life difficult, especially when her son Wayne grows close to Anne. Mrs. Burke finally accuses Anne’s brother Junior of stealing in order to get back at her, relenting only after leaving both children shaken. Anne quits.

Meanwhile, Anne has begun to attract the attention of the boys in her high school and the men in her community. When she outgrows her school dresses, she wears jeans, which she cannot afford to replace even when they grow tight. She becomes so popular with the boys that she is elected homecoming queen. Diddly even provides Anne with a beautiful gown, making the homecoming parade one of the few joyful moments of her young life. When Anne is still very young, her mother develops a romantic relationship with Raymond Davis, with whom she has four more children. Raymond’s family, especially Miss Pearl, Raymond’s mother, looks down on Toosweet because she has darker skin than they do. Yet Anne enjoys their new home in Centreville, and especially Centreville Baptist Church, the upscale church Raymond’s family attends. When Anne’s mother wants her to attend their old, poorer church, Anne gets into the first of many serious conflicts with her mother.

In the summer of 1955, when Anne hears that Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting from Chicago, has been brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman, she becomes acutely conscious of the racial inequality around her. As a younger child, she struggled to understand the inequity between the races, and she gains no more understanding of this fact as she grows older. She wonders if there are any real differences between blacks and whites, save for the fact that the black women clean the white women’s homes.

When Anne first hears about the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a forbidden organization in rural Mississippi, she begins to contemplate how the racial inequalities around her can be overthrown. Meanwhile, however, her own struggles with her family are more pressing. Toosweet feels that Anne is starting to look down on her, especially when Anne changes her name from Essie Mae to Annie Mae because she thinks Essie Mae sounds like a name for barnyard animals. Anne’s family does not understand Anne’s growing interest in the civil rights movement; in fact, they are afraid of it. Anne spends her last three summers of high school in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, doing menial jobs for more money than she could earn at home. Eventually, Anne can no longer stand the family, especially Raymond, and she storms out and moves in with her father, Diddly, and his wife, Emma. Emma and her family are light skinned, but do not hold themselves above anyone, and Anne grows close to them.

Anne accepts a basketball scholarship to Natchez College, a suffocatingly conservative Baptist college in Mississippi. There, Anne has her first boyfriend. She eventually transfers to Tougaloo College for her final two years of college. At Tougaloo, she joins the NAACP, in spite of the strong protests of her mother. The local sheriff even tells Anne’s mother that Anne must not attend NAACP events or it will mean trouble for her family. Nonetheless, Anne becomes active in the NAACP and the civil rights movement, despite her family’s impassioned pleas for her to quit.

Anne participates in the famous sit-in at the lunch counter of the Woolworth’s in Jackson, Mississippi. She later works as a CORE (Coalition for the Organization of Racial Equality) activist in rural Madison County, Mississippi, where she and the other activists are the targets of violent threats. After exhaustive work, Anne concludes that the movement has not improved the lives of people in Mississippi. It has focused too much on voter registration and even political theater, such as the Freedom Vote, a mock vote intended to protest disenfranchisement of blacks. Instead, Anne wants the movement to focus on economic issues, such as helping black farmers buy their own land. At the end of her memoir, twenty-three-year-old Anne is getting on a bus to Washington. The bus is filled with volunteers who all seem far more exuberant and younger than she. As they sing “We Shall Overcome,” Anne wonders if blacks will ever really overcome racism.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Liberty Defined

Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
by Ron Paul

In Liberty Defined, congressman and #1 New York Times bestselling author Ron Paul returns with his most provocative, comprehensive, and compelling arguments for personal freedom to date.
The term "Liberty" is so commonly used in our country that it has become a mere cliché. But do we know what it means? What it promises? How it factors into our daily lives? And most importantly, can we recognize tyranny when it is sold to us disguised as a form of liberty?

Dr. Paul writes that to believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome. It is to trust in the spontaneous order that emerges when the state does not intervene in human volition and human cooperation. It permits people to work out their problems for themselves, build lives for themselves, take risks and accept responsibility for the results, and make their own decisions. It is the seed of America.

This is a comprehensive guide to Dr. Paul's position on fifty of the most important issues of our times, from Abortion to Zionism. Accessible, easy to digest, and fearless in its discussion of controversial topics, LIBERTY DEFINED sheds new light on a word that is losing its shape.