Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy.
Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.
In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature.
The story of the fire, its causes, and its legal and human aftermath is one of lives put at risk by petty economic decisions--by a band, club owners, promoters, building inspectors, and product manufacturers. Any one of those decisions, made differently, might have averted the tragedy. Together, however, they reached a fatal critical mass.
Killer Show is the first comprehensive exploration of the chain of events leading up to the fire, the conflagration itself, and the painstaking search for evidence to hold the guilty to account and obtain justice for the victims.
Anyone who has entered an entertainment venue and wondered, "Could I get out of here in a hurry?" will identify with concertgoers at The Station. Fans of disaster nonfiction and forensic thrillers will find ample elements of both genres in Killer Show.
In essence, the book has a dual focus. First it attempts to locate and describe the land of the early settlers. This is done by means of a superb series of plat maps, drawn to scale from original surveys and based both on certificates of survey and patents. These show, in precise configurations, the exact locations of the various grants and lots, the names of owners and occupiers, the dates of surveys and patents, and the names of contiguous land owners. Second, it identifies the early settlers and inhabitants of the area, carefully following them through deeds, wills, and inventories, judgment records, and rent rolls.
Finally, in meticulously compiled appendices it provides a chronological list of surveys between 1721 and 1743; an alphabetical list of surveys, giving dates, page reference--text and maps--and patent references; a list of taxables for 1733-34; and a list of the early German settlers of Frederick County, showing their religion, their location, dates of arrival, and their earliest records in the county.
Winner of the 1988 Donald Lines Jacobus Award!
Martin A. Lee traces the dramatic social history of marijuana from its origins to its emergence in the 1960s as a defining force in a culture war that has never ceased. Lee describes how the illicit marijuana subculture overcame government opposition and morphed into a dynamic, multibillion-dollar industry.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Similar laws have followed in more than a dozen other states, but not without antagonistic responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement. Lee, an award-winning investigative journalist, draws attention to underreported scientific breakthroughs that are reshaping the therapeutic landscape. By mining the plant’s rich pharmacopoeia, medical researchers have developed promising treatments for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, chronic pain, and many other conditions that are beyond the reach of conventional cures.
Colorful, illuminating, and at times irreverent, this is a fascinating read for recreational users and patients, students and doctors, musicians and accountants, Baby Boomers and their kids, and anyone who has ever wondered about the secret life of this ubiquitous herb.
So Samuel Langhorne Clemens made his excuse for late copy to the Sacramento Union, the newspaper that was underwriting his 1866 trip. If the young reporter's excuse makes perfect sense to you, join the thousands of Island lovers who have delighted in Twain's efforts when he finally did put pen to paper.
Winner of the Mountains and Plains Book Seller's Association Award
"Sprawling in scope. . . . Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully to explain and give dimension to the present." --The New York Times
"Fine reportage . . . honed and polished until it reads more like literature than journalism." --Los Angeles Times
"They have tried to tame it, shave it, fence it, cut it, dam it, drain it, nuke it, poison it, pave it, and subdivide it," writes Timothy Egan of the West; still, "this region's hold on the American character has never seemed stronger." In this colorful and revealing journey through the eleven states west of the 100th meridian, Egan, a third-generation westerner, evokes a lovely and troubled country where land is religion and the holy war between preservers and possessors never ends.
Egan leads us on an unconventional, freewheeling tour: from America's oldest continuously inhabited community, the Ancoma Pueblo in New Mexico, to the high kitsch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where London Bridge has been painstakingly rebuilt stone by stone; from the fragile beauty of Idaho's Bitterroot Range to the gross excess of Las Vegas, a city built as though in defiance of its arid environment. In a unique blend of travel writing, historical reflection, and passionate polemic, Egan has produced a moving study of the West: how it became what it is, and where it is going.
"The writing is simply wonderful. From the opening paragraph, Egan seduces the reader. . . . Entertaining, thought provoking."
--The Arizona Daily Star Weekly
"A western breeziness and love of open spaces shines through Lasso the Wind. . . . The writing is simple and evocative."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Freedom Colonies is the first book to tell the story of these independent African American settlements. Thad Sitton and James Conrad focus on communities in Texas, where blacks achieved a higher percentage of land ownership than in any other state of the Deep South. The authors draw on a vast reservoir of ex-slave narratives, oral histories, written memoirs, and public records to describe how the freedom colonies formed and to recreate the lifeways of African Americans who made their living by farming or in skilled trades such as milling and blacksmithing. They also uncover the forces that led to the decline of the communities from the 1930s onward, including economic hard times and the greed of whites who found legal and illegal means of taking black-owned land. And they visit some of the remaining communities to discover how their independent way of life endures into the twenty-first century.
"If you can imagine that the Jew to the German was like a cockroach. In the United States, if you step on a cockroach . . . it doesn't mean anything to you. The same thing, exactly the same thing, the Jew was to the German--a cockroach. . . . One particular Shabbos (Sabbath), they shot twelve or thirteen people in my area. In other words, the German had the right, if he saw me, any Jew that he saw in the street, he could go over to you calmly, take out his revolver, and put it to your head, and shoot you down like a . . . roach. . . . It was a free-for-all."--Testimony of Sol Einhorn, cited in Holocaust Testimonies: European Survivors and American Liberators in New Jersey
"In this excellent, intricate, and meticulously researched study, Hirsch exposes the social engineering of the post-war ghetto."—Roma Barnes, Journal of American Studies
"According to Arnold Hirsch, Chicago's postwar housing projects were a colossal exercise in moral deception. . . . [An] excellent study of public policy gone astray."—Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune
"An informative and provocative account of critical aspects of the process in [Chicago]. . . . A good and useful book."—Zane Miller, Reviews in American History
"A valuable and important book."—Allan Spear, Journal of American History
After My Lai documents the war’s horrific effects on both sides of the struggle. Bray presents the Vietnam conflict as the touchstone of a generation, telling how his feelings about being a soldier—a family tradition—were dramatically altered by the events he participated in and witnessed. He explains how young men, angered by the deaths of comrades and with no release for their frustration, can sometimes cross the line of legal and ethical behavior.
Bray’s account differs from many Vietnam memoirs in his vivid descriptions of platoon-level tactical operations. As he builds suspense in moment-by-moment depictions of men plunging into jungle gloom and tragedy, he demonstrates that what led to My Lai is easier to comprehend once you’ve walked the booby-trapped ground yourself. An intensely personal story, gracefully rendered yet brutally honest, After My Lai reveals how warfare changes you forever.
In vibrant watercolors and detailed sketches, artist Diana Gessler captures the beauty and riches that make Charleston so unique: White Point Gardens, the Spoleto Festival, Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, Fort Moultrie, the beaches of Sullivan's Island, sumptuous Lowcountry cuisine, and handmade sweetgrass baskets. Full of fascinating details--on everything from the art of early entertaining, the city's inspired architectural and garden designs, and George Washington's Southern tour to famous Charlestonians and the flags of Sumter--Very Charleston celebrates the city, the Lowcountry, the people, and our history. Hand-lettered and full color throughout, Very Charleston includes maps, an index, and a handy appendix of sites.
With her cheerful illustrations and love for discovering little-known facts, Diana Gessler has created both an entertaining guide and an irresistible keepsake for visitors and Charlestonians alike.
Drawing on previously untapped sources, Hoffman dissects what he terms a “private war” against Capone. He traces the behind-the-scenes work of a few prominent Chicago businessmen from their successful lobbying of presidents Coolidge and Hoover on behalf of federal intervention to the trial, sentencing, and punishment of Al Capone. Hoffman also reconstructs in detail a number of privately sponsored citizen initiatives directed at stopping Capone. These private ventures included prosecuting the gangsters responsible for election crimes; establishing a crime lab to assist in gangbusting; underwriting the costs of the investigation of the Jake Lingle murder; stigmatizing Capone; and protecting the star witnesses for the prosecution in Al Capone’s income tax evasion case.
Hoffman suggests that as American society continues to be threatened by illegal drugs, gangs, and widespread violence, it is important to remember that the organized crime and political corruption of Prohibition-era Chicago were checked through the efforts of private citizens.
Dennis E. Hoffman is an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The cowboy learned his craft from the vaqueros of New Spain and Texas when it was the northern territory of Mexico, as well as from the stock raisers of the south. Such a life was hardly glamorous. Poorly fed, underpaid, overworked, deprived of sleep, and prone to boredom and loneliness, cowboys choked in the dust, were cold at night, and suffered broken bones in falls and spills from horses spooked by snakes or tripped by prairie dog holes. Work centered on the fall and spring roundups, when scattered cattle were collected and driven to a place for branding, sorting for market, castrating, and in later years, dipping in vats to prevent tick fever.
African American cowboys, however, also had to survive discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice. The lives of these cowhands tell a story of skill and grit, as they did what was necessary to gain the trust and respect of those who controlled their destiny. That meant being the best--at roping, bronc busting, taming mustangs, calling the brands, controlling the remuda, or topping off horses.
From scattered courthouse records, writings, and interviews with a few of the African American cowhands who were part of the history of Texas, Sara Massey and a host of writers have retrieved the stories of a more diverse cattle industry than has been previously recorded.
Twenty-five writers here recount tales of African Americans such as Peter Martin, who hauled freight and assisted insurgents in a rebellion against the Mexican government while building a herd of cattle that allowed him to own (through a proxy) rental houses in town. Bose Ikard, a friend of Charles Goodnight, went on Goodnight's first cattle drive opening the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Johanna July, a Black Seminole woman, had her own method of taming horses in the Rio Grande for the soldiers at Fort Duncan.
These cowhands, along with others across the state, had an important role that too long has been omitted from most history books. By telling their stories, Black Cowboys of Texas provides an important contribution to Texas, Western, and African American history.
Arguing that current explanations of voting behavior are ill suited for most local contests, Eric Oliver puts forward a new theory that highlights the crucial differences between local, state, and national democracies. Being small in size, limited in power, and largely unbiased in distributing their resources, local governments are "managerial democracies" with a distinct style of electoral politics. Instead of hinging on the partisanship, ideology, and group appeals that define national and state elections, local elections are based on the custodial performance of civic-oriented leaders and on their personal connections to voters with similarly deep community ties. Explaining not only the dynamics of local elections, Oliver's findings also upend many long-held assumptions about community power and local governance, including the importance of voter turnout and the possibilities for grassroots political change.
Two of the tunnels were built by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, a company headed by William Gibbs McAdoo, a man who later served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and even mounted a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination at one point. McAdoo's H&M remains in service today as the PATH System of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The other tunnel was opened in 1910 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, led to the magnificent Penn Station on Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street, and remains in daily service today for both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.
The author has updated this new edition with additional photographs, a concluding chapter on recent developments, and a Preface that recounts the last trains of September to the World Trade Center Terminal.
This new edition of Spanish Texas has been extensively revised and expanded to include a wealth of discoveries about Texas history since 1990. The opening chapter on Texas Indians reveals their high degree of independence from European influence and extended control over their own lives. Other chapters incorporate new information on La Salle's Garcitas Creek colony and French influences in Texas, the destruction of the San Sabá mission and the Spanish punitive expedition to the Red River in the late 1750s, and eighteenth-century Bourbon reforms in the Americas. Drawing on their own and others' research, the authors also provide more inclusive coverage of the role of women of various ethnicities in Spanish Texas and of the legal rights of women on the Texas frontier, demonstrating that whether European or Indian, elite or commoner, slave owner or slave, women enjoyed legal protections not heretofore fully appreciated.
The American Revolution 100 brings to life the monumental moments, bloody battles, and influential leaders who gave birth to a great nation. In comprehensive fashion, decorated veteran and military expert Michael Lee Lanning ranks and analyzes the war's most significant events, showing how each affected the outcome.
Relive the memorable battles, when a country of citizen-farmers prepared themselves to take on the mightiest army in the world. Learn about the remarkable figures and forces of the time, and decide for yourself:Who influenced the revolution more—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, or John Paul Jones? Was the Battle of Yorktown more pivotal than the Battle of Trenton? Was The Declaration of Independence more important to the revolution than Thomas Paine's Common Sense?
Read the stories of Henry Knox, Thomas Sumter, American militias, and December 26, 1776, and let your own debates begin…
Praise for Michael Lee Lanning's history books:
"Easily accessible…Recommended reference for the aficionado and the uninitiated alike."
"Unusual and even witty insights also abound."
Tyler covers four centuries of human society in the Big Bend in this award-winning book. Archaeological evidence of Indian inhabitants provides clues to their unwritten history in the Big Bend, but Spanish explorers recognized no living trace of them and simply called the land el despoblado, the uninhabited land.
In the centuries that followed, U.S. Army mapping and surveying teams entered the region. A colorful array of miners, ranchers, and even bandits sought freedom and livelihoods in the remote canyons of this region so deeply involved in the destinies of both Mexico and the United States. A full chapter is devoted to the creation of Big Bend National Park, which was finally dedicated in 1955, thanks in large part to the quiet but unrelenting efforts of a simple cowboy named Everett Ewing Townsend, who wanted to preserve what was left of the Texas wilderness.
Written in engaging narrative prose, The Big Bend might be considered the last word on the last Texas frontier. It would also be perfect reading material for a road trip to the most remote corner of the contiguous United States.
In desperation, the governor of Texas called on an extraordinary man, Captain Leander M. McNelly, to take command of a Ranger company and stop these border bandits. One of McNelly's recruits for this task was George Durham, a Georgia farmboy in his teens when he joined the "Little McNellys," as the Captain's band called themselves. More than half a century later, it was George Durham, the last surviving "McNelly Ranger," who recounted the exciting tale of taming the Nueces Strip to San Antonio writer Clyde Wantland.
In Durham's account, those long-ago days are brought vividly back to life. Once again the daring McNelly leads his courageous band across Southwest Texas to victories against incredible odds. With a boldness that overcame their dismayingly small number, the McNellys succeeded in bringing law and order to the untamed Nueces Strip—succeeded so well that they antagonized certain "upright" citizens who had been pocketing surreptitious dollars from the bandits' operations.
As the most populous state at the time of the Civil War, New York was central to winning the war. The state not only provided the most men and materiel, but was also the North's economic center as well as an important center of political and social activism. Inhabited by increasing numbers of immigrant groups, abolitionists, and an emerging free black community, New York's social and political environment was a microcosm of the larger social and political conflict being played out in the war. The symposium addressed these tensions by examining the role of women, blacks, Native Americans, and European immigrant groups in New York, particularly the various perspectives held by members of each group regarding the war effort.
The symposium examined the difficulties Abraham Lincoln faced in keeping New York favorable to his policies. It revealed the tremendous sacrifice New York made in the military campaign, as well as the treatment of Confederate soldiers at New York's Elmira Prison Camp. The State of the Union is a compilation of the papers presented at the symposium.
The essays included in the volume:
Housekeeping on Its Own Terms: Abraham Lincoln in New York, by Harold Holzer
The Volcano Under the City: The Significance of Draft Rioting in New York City and State, July 1863, by Iver Bernstein
What's Gender Got to Do With It? New York in the Age of the Civil War, by Lillian Serece Williams
In the Shadow of American Indian Removal: The Iroquois in the Civil War, by Laurance M. Hauptman
Above the Law: Abitrary Arrest, Habeas Corpus, and the Freedom of the Press in New York, by Joseph M. Bellacosa and Frank J. Williams
New York's "Andersonville: " The Elmira Military Prison, by Lonnie R. Speer
The Continuing Conflict: New York and the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, by Hans Trefousse
Beginning with brief histories of the area's first Catholic churches and the establishment of Georgetown College, At Peace with All Their Neighbors explains the many reasons behind the Protestant majority's acceptance of Catholicism in the national capital in an age often marked by religious intolerance. Shortly after the capital moved from Philadelphia in 1800, Catholics held the principal positions in the city government and were also major landowners, property investors, and bankers. In the decade before the 1844 riots over religious education erupted in Philadelphia, the municipal government of Georgetown gave public funds for a Catholic school and Congress granted land in Washington for a Catholic orphanage.
The book closes with a remarkable account of how the Washington community, Protestants and Catholics alike, withstood the concentrated efforts of the virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic American nativists and the Know-Nothing Party in the last two decades before the Civil War.
This chronicle of Washington's Catholic community and its major contributions to the growth of the nations's capital will be of value for everyone interested in the history of Washington, D.C., Catholic history, and the history of religious toleration in America.
In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century "Negro Burial Ground." Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation's largest city.
In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers.
Written with clarity and grace, In the Shadow of Slavery is an ambitious new work that will prove indispensable to historians of the African American experience, as well as anyone interested in the history of New York City.
In Texas after the Civil War, Carl H. Moneyhon reconsiders the reasons Reconstruction failed to live up to its promise. He shows that the period was not one of corruption and irresponsible government, as earlier studies had argued; nor was the Republican regime of Edmund J. Davis devoid of accomplishments. Rather, the fact that the Civil War had shaken but not destroyed the antebellum community made the resistance to changes in government and society even greater than elsewhere in the South. Moneyhon vividly examines the character of violence in the state, as well as the social and economic forces that shaped the response to Reconstruction.
Clearly and engagingly written, masterful in its survey of the last fifty years of research on the era, this book will stand as the definitive synthesis and interpretation of Reconstruction in Texas for years to come.
With numerous photographs and engaging stories, Deckhand offers an insider's view of both the mundane and the intriguing duties performed by deckhands on these gritty cargo vessels. Boisterous port saloons, monster ice jams, near drownings, and the daily drudgery of soogeying---cleaning dirt and grime off the ships---are just a few of the experiences Mickey Haydamacker had as a young deckhand working on freighters of the Great Lakes in the early 1960s. Haydamacker sailed five Interlake Steamship Company boats, from the modern Elton Hoyt 2nd to the ancient coal-powered Colonel James Pickands with its backbreaking tarp-covered hatches.
Deckhand will appeal to shipping buffs and to anyone interested in Great Lakes shipping and maritime history as it chronicles the adventures of living on the lakes from the seldom-seen view of a deckhand.
Mickey Haydamacker spent his youth as a deckhand sailing on the freighters of the Great Lakes. During the 1962 and '63 seasons Nelson sailed five different Interlake Steamship Company ore boats. He later went on to become an arson expert with the Michigan State Police, retiring with the rank of Detective Sergeant.
Alan D. Millar, to whom Haydamacker related his tale of deckhanding, spent his career as a gift store owner and often wrote copy for local newspaper, TV, and radio.
All of the most emotional issues among contemporary Southeast Texas Native Americans—including repatriation of remains, educational funding, health care, and cultural preservation—in some way address the question of personal identity. Difficulties in determining who and what are "Indian" continually divide the community, and analyzing the Alabama-Coushatta cultural transition is complicated by the dearth of written sources and the repression by 1930 of most overt evidence of the old ways. In this book Jonathan Hook engagingly discovers the earlier cultural tradition and the influences that caused it to evolve to its present form and conceptualizes those changes in a way that explores the very concept of identity.
In vivid, efficient prose, Hook describes what is known of the various European intrusions into Creek (Muskhogean) culture and how these changed the tribal life of the Alabamas and Coushattas, eventually leading them to the reservation they now share in Southeast Texas. He draws on written sources where they are available but also on the oral history of tribal members, to whom he had unprecedented access. He describes village organization, leadership succession, the "law of retaliation," the jubilee celebration of the Green Corn Festival (when all crimes except murder were forgiven), the matri-clan social pattern and marriage practices, burial rites, and religious practices including pride in being "a peculiar and beloved people of God."
Hook then considers the dual paths of searching for cultural identity today: regenesis, "the reintroduction of cultural practices formerly observed by the group," and ethnogenesis, the creation of a new cultural identity through the deliberate introduction of cultural practices that were not part of a specific tribe's cultural heritage. Thus, he illustrates, on the Alabama-Coushatta reservation the attempt to recover Indian identity has meant the adoption of powwow and other pan-Indian expressions of art, music, attire, and religion. Largely it has meant the adoption of Plains Indians ways, however "foreign" those may be to the tribe's indigenous culture. For example, many Alabama-Coushatta dancers now dance the "grass" dance (of the Plains tribes) rather than the "stomp" dance (their own traditional ceremony). Hook explores this phenomenon nonjudgmentally, elucidating "the inherently mutable nature of ethnicity."
The result of Hook's work is a fascinating study of "the dynamic and contextually based nature of personal and communal ethnic identity." Five centuries of cultural transition are traced and assessed, yet still made to seem personal and very human. In his conclusion he symbolizes the analysis he has made as he describes a mixed-blood child dancing in a tribal ceremony. "This young child," he explains, "inherits a five hundred–year legacy of cultural transition instigated by Columbus's arrival in this hemisphere." The means of achieving continued ethnic survival, he concludes, is "learning to 'walk in both worlds.' . . . Both cultural worlds must be studied, understood, and navigated." This book is a beginning
"This is a book for anyone who has ridden down a country road and, hearing the wind whistle through the cornstalks, wondered about the Indians and pioneers who listened to that sound before him."—Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune
"Every chapter, almost every page, contains new ideas or throws new light on old ones, by means of a wealth of detail and clarity of though which brings the past alive again."—Hugh Brogan, The Times Literary Supplement
"A notably successful example of the new work being done on the social history of rural America…. Faragher has constructed a vivid portrait of everyday life as well as an analysis of how the community developed and changed."—George M. Fredrickson, New York Review of Books
"Here, succinctly set out, is the American prairie experience."—Publishers Weekly
"Sugar Creek is a major new interpretation of America’s rural past."—Howard R. Lamar, Yale University
Winner of the 1986 Society for the History of the Early American Republic Award
John Mack Faragher is associate professor of history at Mount Holyoke College.
Acclaimed journalist and NPR commentator Diane Roberts has many family secrets and she's ready to tell them. Like the time her cousin state Senator Luther Tucker wrapped his Caddy around a tree, allegedly with a jug of moonshine on the seat next to him. Or how cousin Susan Branford was given an African girl for her eighth birthday. Or the time when cousin Enid Broward was made the May Queen of 1907, even though her daddy the governor shocked the state by trying to drain the entire Everglades. Roberts' ancestors helped settle Florida, kill off its pesky Indians, enslave some of its inhabitants, clear its forests, lay its train tracks, and pave its roads, all the time weaving themselves into the very fabric of this dangling chad of a state.
With a storyteller's talent for setting great scenes, Roberts lays out the sweeping history of eight geberations of Browards and Bradfords, Tuckers anf Robertses, even as she Forest Gumps them into situations with more historically familiar names. Whether it's the American court of Catherine de Médicis, the Tallahassee court of Katherine Harris, Henry Flagler's boardroom -- not to mention his bedroom -- or Jeb Bush's statehouse, you're likely to find a branch or a root of the Roberts family growing entangled nearby.
Starting in the recent past with the botched presidential election of 2000, Roberts introduces the many sides of the debate, coincidentally peopled with cousins both kissing and close. She then goes back to Florida's first inhabitants, showing how this alluring peninsula many called a paradise played a role in the destiny of those who settled there. Following their colorful progress up to the present, she renders them all with a deep, familial affection.
Florida has forced itself into the collective American unconscious with its messed-up elections, anthrax scares, shark attacks,boat lifts, snowbirds, and the Bush dynasty. While exposing the real people whom Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard have been fictionalizing for years, Dream State ultimately reveals the cogs and wheels that make the state tick.
Stephen Silverman and Raphael Silver tell of the turning points that made the Catskills so vital to the development of America: Henry Hudson’s first spotting the distant blue mountains in 1609; the New York State constitutional convention, resulting in New York’s own Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and its own constitution, causing the ire of the invading British army . . . the Catskills as a popular attraction in the 1800s, with the construction of the Catskill Mountain House and its rugged imitators that offered WASP guests “one-hundred percent restricted” accommodations (“Hebrews will knock vainly for admission”), a policy that remained until the Catskills became the curative for tubercular patients, sending real-estate prices plummeting and the WASP enclave on to richer pastures . . .
Here are the gangsters (Jack “Legs” Diamond and Dutch Schultz, among them) who sought refuge in the Catskill Mountains, and the resorts that after World War II catered to upwardly mobile Jewish families, giving rise to hundreds of hotels inspired by Grossinger’s, the original “Disneyland with knishes”—the Concord, Brown’s Hotel, Kutsher’s Hotel, and others—in what became known as the Borscht Belt and Sour Cream Alps, with their headliners from movies and radio (Phil Silvers, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle, et al.), and others who learned their trade there, among them Moss Hart (who got his start organizing summer theatricals), Sid Caesar, Lenny Bruce, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.
Here is a nineteenth-century America turning away from England for its literary and artistic inspiration, finding it instead in Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and his childhood recollections (set in the Catskills) . . . in James Fenimore Cooper’s adventure-romances, which provided a pastoral history, describing the shift from a colonial to a nationalist mentality . . . and in the canvases of Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Frederick Church, and others that caught the grandeur of the wilderness and that gave texture, color, and form to Irving’s and Cooper’s imaginings.
Here are the entrepreneurs and financiers who saw the Catskills as a way to strike it rich, plundering the resources that had been likened to “creation,” the Catskills’ tanneries that supplied the boots and saddles for Union troops in the Civil War . . . and the bluestone quarries whose excavated rock became the curbs and streets of the fast-growing Eastern Seaboard.
Here are the Catskills brought fully to life in all of their intensity, beauty, vastness, and lunacy.
From the Hardcover edition.