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Staff Picks: Books

American Folklife

Library of Congress American Folklife Center: an Illustrated Guide…the title sounds bland, but the book/CD set is anything but! It covers a wide cross-section of folk art and folk lore in the United States.

Most amazing is the accompanying CD. With 35 tracks in all, there are songs from all over the U.S., including a song sung by Zora Neale Hurston, storytelling, personal interviews with many different people about aspects of daily living and the impacts of war and slavery. Some recordings are over 100 years old. Altogether they demonstrate the richness and variety of cultural experience in our country. This would be a great teaching tool to help bring an American history topic to life for your students.

Book

Library of Congress American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide
9780844411064

50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination

I was born in Washington D.C. four days after JFK was killed. As a result I always felt an affinity for, and curiosity about, Kennedy.

I was especially moved when my father and I had the chance to visit the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. We went to Dallas together on the last major trip my father took before he died. We watched TV clips of pivotal moments in Kennedy’s presidency. We looked out of the window from which the shots were fired, onto the white painted “X” on Elm Street marking the spot where Kennedy was struck dead. Dad told me about how he felt, living in D.C., expecting a new baby to the family, while memorial events for the fallen president were taking place.

After the museum, Dad and I went for dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant nearby. As we were finally leaving downtown, we got a little turned around and drove down a few different streets before finding the exit onto the freeway. I felt chills when I realized-- just as we were clearly headed in the right direction-- that I was driving right over the fatal spot, the painted “X” on Elm Street.

As the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination approaches, you may wish to revisit that time, explore something new about Kennedy’s administration or ponder the controversies surrounding his death. We’ve got so much you can read, view and hear.

Where were you? America Remembers the JFK Assassination

Book
9780762794560

An Unconventional Look at the Presidents

Writing about the U.S. presidents has been a popular thing to do throughout most of the history of the country, but especially recently, whether individually or collectively. Here's a rather large volume that has two parts: 1) The Making of the President, 1787, and 2) Presidential Profiles. I found the profile section to be particularly enjoyable. For each president, author Davis gives biographical milestones, quotations, fast facts, a lively summary of the administration, online resources for further information, and a final analysis and grade. This latter item provides the capstone to each chapter. While I don't agree with all of the ratings, I was interested to note the rationale for each. Some are obvious and expected -- Washington and Lincoln get an A+. Three in a row get an F -- Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. But there are some surprises among the rest. This is a nice work of history presented with an entertaining flair.

 

Book

Don't know much about the American presidents : everything you need to know about the most powerful office on Earth and the men who have occupied it
9781401324087

So I finally know what people are talking about when they talk about Obamacare Death Panels...

Dr. Lobosky, who probably dictated this book to an intern, a red faced old school doc from the 70’s, raging mad about all the problems with health care, talking about the good ol’ days when doctors actually saw their patients... Anyway, he was hopeful when President Obama talked about a single-payer system, a public option, universal access, and letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. But alas money and politics! The special interests (insurance, drug companies, trial lawyers) gobbled up Obamacare and spit it out. It’s mutilated, complains Lobosky, to the point that it may not solve the larger problems it began to solve in the first place. Like affordable access and care for all.
Now I must admit I really liked listening to this doctor rant and rave about everything, but eventually he does offer some solutions:

  1. Everyone has insurance and pays through the same system (single-payer system)
  2. Everyone gets the same coverage (universal access)
  3. Force insurance companies and hospitals to be not-for-profit: if a company must choose between profit and patient care, they will choose profit. After all, they have stock-holders to make happy. He sees this as a glaring conflict of interest.
  4. Protect doctors from getting sued so much
  5. Force drug companies to make new drugs, not just “copy-cats”: and increase their patents so it will be worth their while.
  6. Use evidence-based medicine: don’t waste resources by doing procedures that are unnecessary or don’t work
  7. Death Panels! This is called “rationing” in the health care debate. It boils down to the fact that we have a finite number of resources in our health care system. So if a person insists on getting a procedure that probably won’t work and probably won’t help their quality of life, then, the argument goes, they should have to pay for it instead of the government. Or perhaps a charity would.

This book will propel you into the health care debate. It’s written by a politically moderate doctor who has a unique view in the trenches. At times he sounds arrogant, and he knows it. I found myself laughing. But this issue is no laughing matter. I highly recommend.

We have many other books on health care reform.

book

It's Enough to Make You Sick
9781442214620

One Eagle Scout’s Story

In 2011, Zach Wahls’ speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee was posted online and went viral, where it gleaned over 17 million hits on YouTube. For those who’d like to hear more from this promising young activist, you can read his book, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family.

Wahls, an Eagle Scout, was raised -- in a home steeped in family values, discussing morals at the dinner table—by two moms. In his book, Wahls breaks down the Boy Scout motto, law, oath and slogan, giving concrete examples of how his family exemplified values in each of those codes and what he learned from the Boy Scouts about living out those values. He also gives a moving account of his mother, Terry’s, struggle with MS, and how her illness and triumphs over her condition impacted the whole family. In general, we see a family sharing love and struggles, as all families do. This family’s parents ultimately earned the legal right to marry in their home state, partly due to Zach Wahls’ inspiring speech on the Iowa legislative floor.

The library has other materials by, and/or for, children of gay or lesbian parents, and their parents. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please ask!

 

Book

My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family
9781592407132

A Look at Detroit

Detroit is described as our country’s greatest urban failure from once being a capitalist dream town.

As several reviewers have written, Detroit City is the Place to Be, captures the beauty and nobility of the city as well as the hardship and chaos. It is part history and part biography of a city and its people; a commentary on postindustrial America with some limited optimism for the future. The author grew up in the city and weaves in some personal narrative as well.

This may sound familiar to those who grew up in Detroit or Michigan. For those of us who were not here during the glory days of Detroit, it helps understand how and why Detroit became “a once-great American metropolis gone to hell” as one reviewer wrote.

This book provides the framework for our state, even our nation, to grapple with the issues facing Detroit.

Book

Detroit City is the Place to Be
9780805092295

The Most Exclusive Club

What a fascinating look at the relationships between former presidents in The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.

Harry Truman first reached out to Herbert Hoover as they jokingly decided to form a “Presidents Club” to start the relationship between the current and former presidents.

Relationships and rivalries, some backstabbing and clashing egos are all described. However, all club members, no matter their political party, care deeply about the country and truly understand the challenges that go with the job.

The insights and stories are amazing in this well-written, most readable book.

Book

The Presidents Club: inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity
9781439127704

We’re getting there....

It hardly seems possible that I wrote about the biographical American Presidents Series in this space four years ago this month, the last time there was a Leap Year Day. It was the month of Presidents’ Day and a presidential election was not far off. The issuance of books in this series has continued since then, and KPL has continued to buy them. The latest publication is on William Henry Harrison by Gail Collins. President for only one month, he does get 153 pages from Ms. Collins. I enjoyed the very positive review that appeared in last Sunday’s Kalamazoo Gazette. With only about five or six of these left to go, John F. Kennedy is up next. I'll write again when the series is completed. It shouldn't take another four years.

Book

William Henry Harrison
9780805091182

Worst of Friends

You could look only at the illustrations in this book and understand the friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, but, of course, you will want to read the text that explains what transpired between John Adams, the Second President of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson, the Third President of the United States.

Suzanne Tripp Jurmain presents a brief overview of the beginnings of American independence and the important roles of Adams and Jefferson. Noisy John Adams was one of America’s best talkers and shy Thomas Jefferson was one of America’s best writers and together they helped write the Declaration of Independence. Although Adams and Jefferson were complete opposites in appearance, they both “had the same big, wonderful ideas about America. And, whenever they had a chance to work for their country, they did it together.” Interestingly enough, both John and Tom died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the fiftieth birthday of American independence.

Book

Worst of Friends

9780525479031


A story of the past for the future

Toni Morrison used a collection of photographs taken during the struggle to integrate schools to tell a story of hope, triumph and survival. The 1954 Brown versus the Board of Education segregation case embodied a turbulent time in American history and what better way to tell its story than through its pictures. Unlike Toni Morrison’s other books Remember: the Journey to School Integration is a pictorial collection for children and it will mean different things to different people. But the picture that means the most to me was taken from a New York Times May 18, 1954 article that blared High Court Bans School Segregation; 9-to-0 Decision Grants Time to Comply. And on the opposite page is a picture of the nine Supreme Court judges that did away with the 1896 Separate but Equal  ruling.

Book

Remember: The Journey to School Integration
061839740X