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Top Books by State: Illinois

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 12, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Awarded Books

Today we continue our literary journey with a stop in Illinois. This Midwestern state is known for being a mixture of urban and rural, city and farmland, as well as for being home to many of the different cultures that make up America. Illinois is famous for corn and Abraham Lincoln, for gangsters roaming Chicago in the 1930s and for sports. Illinois boasts cities, farms, wetlands and forests, all situated in the heart of country. Illinois is home to Chicago, perhaps the most important of the Midwestern cities, and while Illinois is considered by many to simply be a flyover state, in many ways, its history and people represent some of the most important aspects of America. Join us as we take a closer look at the Prairie State.

     
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Remembering Ronald Reagan Through the Written Word

By Leah Dobrinska. Feb 6, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book Collecting

When one hears the name “Ronald Reagan” many titles come to mind—actor, politician, president. And while in this day and age, many Hollywood stars participate in politics and make their political voices heard (aided, of course, by massive social media platforms and the resulting exposure), thirty years ago when Reagan made the jump from actor to Governor of California and, subsequently, to President of the United States, he was a bit of a trailblazer. Indeed, Reagan’s charisma charmed the Republican party and the American people. When he left office in 1989, his approval rating was a sky-high 68%, making him as popular as Franklin Delano Roosevelt before him and Bill Clinton in his wake.

     
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The Writings of Former President Richard Nixon

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 9, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

Former President Richard Nixon has the unique distinction of being the only president in the history of the United States government to resign from office. Known for his involvement in the Vietnam War as well as the Watergate Scandal, Nixon's political legacy is one of the more controversial moments in 20th century American history. Today we take a closer look at Nixon's presidency as well as some of the books written in his post-presidential career as a best-selling author, which detail this complicated man's place in the fabric of the country and the political views that led him to both his successes and failures during his career.

     
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The Fame and Fiction of William F. Buckley, Jr.

By Audrey Golden. Nov 24, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Legendary Authors, Learn About Books

When most people think about William F. Buckley, Jr., they don’t think about Cold War spy novels or interviews with Beat poets and dramatists. Instead, they often think about Buckley's prominence in conservative politics. Yet he also made a name for himself when it came to fiction. We didn’t just reference Cold War spy novels and Jack Kerouac—two seemingly incompatible topics—out of nowhere. In fact, although you might not suspect it, Buckley wrote eleven novels about espionage and even interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, and Jack Kerouac on television. Are you intrigued? Let us tell you a little bit more about William F. Buckley, Jr.’s fame and fiction.

     
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Book Spotlight: Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer

By Abigail Bekx. Nov 6, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

Published in 2009, Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman explores the life of football player Pat Tillman. Born in 1976, Tillman became one of the best known players for the Arizona Cardinals before leaving his multimillion dollar contract to enlist in the Army. His death in the line of duty brought controversy to the Army and U.S. government when they hid and changed details of the incident from Tillman’s family and the public. Krakauer’s work brings together the facts, painting for readers a clear picture of the details and cover-up.

     
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The Life and Work of Hillary Clinton

By Shelley Kelber. Oct 26, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, History

Hillary Clinton engenders strong emotions from many people. Some love her. Some love to hate her. No matter where you fall, it's difficult to argue that she's not a very accomplished, very smart, woman of a certain age. Rather than descending into political debate, we'd like to offer an overview of Clinton's accomplishments and some of her notable written works, and leave it at that.

     
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Book Spotlight: The Golden Age by Gore Vidal

By Abigail Bekx. Oct 3, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature

American novelist Gore Vidal is widely known for his witty, irreverent writing. His Narratives of Empire series contains seven historical fictions that explore the growth of America from her birth to taking her place as one of the great empires of history.

     
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Collecting the Works of President and Peace Prize Winner, Jimmy Carter

By Leah Dobrinska. Oct 1, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book Collecting

“To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others.” ~Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1977

Today, we celebrate Jimmy Carter's 95th birthday. In honor of his life and efforts as president and human rights activist, we thought we'd republish our most recent post on Carter and his written works.

Do you have a collection of books by U.S. presidents? Or, are you interested in Nobel Peace Prize winners, twentieth century history, or human rights? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, the works of Jimmy Carter should be on your radar.

     
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A Glimpse of Understanding: A Look at Post 9/11 Novels

By Nick Ostdick. Sep 11, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

Some moments in history are so monumental, so seismic, they seem impossible for fiction to get its arms around. These are moments that defy logic, that render conventional and unconventional methods of storytelling obsolete in trying to uncover the truth of the human condition. Take, for example, the horrific events of September 11: a calculated, strategic assault on some of the country’s most iconic images — The World Trade Center, The Pentagon and The White House, though thankfully that last image was left unharmed due to the courage of those aboard the plane bound for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The inherent problem in fiction dealing directly with national tragedies like 9/11 is that the tragedy itself seems something born out of a writer’s imagination, not moments recounted for decades to come in history books. With instances like September 11, there are often more questions to begin with and even fewer answers to be found as the pages turn. 

     
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How Jesse James Became an American Myth

By Brian Hoey. Sep 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

This blog post is not the first place it’s been pointed out that the Wild West era lasted a scant few decades—compared to the century-plus of folk songs, dime novels, movies, TV shows, and other forms of myth-making that take up (and sometimes interrogate) the inherent romance and drama of the era. Given all that, it shouldn’t really surprise us that Wikipedia’s article on “Cultural depictions of Jesse James” is almost as long as the article on James himself. And yet, the piece leaves out what is arguably the first piece of popular culture that took up the life (and death) of the one of the West’s most notorious outlaws: the touring stage show put on by Robert Ford, James’ assassin, dramatizing the moment when Ford himself put a bullet in the back of James’ head.

     
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