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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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Five of John McCain's Fascinating Books

By Abigail Bekx. Aug 29, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature

Born in 1936, John McCain dedicated his life to serving the United States. He graduated from Naval Academy in Annapolis and received a commission from the U.S. Navy. During his time serving in the Navy, McCain worked as a naval aviator and was captured during the Vietnam War, remaining a prisoner of war for five and a half years before his release in 1973. After retiring from the Navy in 1981, he entered politics, where he served in both the House and the Senate until his death in 2018. Many of his writings were done in collaboration with Mark Salter, who served for a time as McCain’s chief of staff.  

     
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A Quick Guide to Bill Clinton and His Autobiography, My Life

By Matt Reimann. Aug 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton received a $15 million dollar advance for his autobiography, My Life (2004)⁠—one of the largest advances ever received for a book. By all measures, the book was a great financial success, selling 2,250,000 copies and earning Clinton $30 million dollars. Yet this achievement did not come easily; it took Clinton over two years to write the book, written in longhand in sixteen notebooks, with no help from a ghost writer.

     
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The Controversy Behind Neil Armstrong's Moon Landing Speech

By Claudia Adrien. Aug 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Science

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew left Kennedy Space Center and entered the Moon's orbit. On July 19, after spending a full day in lunar orbit, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. boarded the lunar module. It was not an easy decent to the surface of the Moon, but when they landed, they made history.

     
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Happy Birthday to Writer and Activist James Baldwin!

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

Writer and activist James Baldwin was born on August 29, 1924 in Manhattan. His plays, essays, novels, poems, and short stories embodied issues of race, class, and sexuality that were common in the mid-20th century and in many cases still exist today. After becoming disillusioned with the way African Americans were treated in his home country, he moved to France where he could be seen as more than just his race.

     
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Five Interesting Books About the Moon Landing

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 20, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, History, Science

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing! On July 20, 1969, NASA successfully landed the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Eight years earlier in 1961, President Kennedy kicked the Space Race into overdrive when he called for more efforts and resources to be put into the space programs with the goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade. July 16, 1969, found Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins boarding the Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center and being launched into Earth’s orbit. After three days Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon in Eagle, the mission’s lunar module. They spent two and a half hours outside of Eagle exploring the surface, taking samples and photographs, and planting the American Flag. On July 24, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins splashed down off Hawaii, marking the end of the Apollo 11 mission.

     
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What Were Americans Reading When We Landed on the Moon?

By Brian Hoey. Jul 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

Sometime around Thanksgiving 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), met sitting-president Abraham Lincoln. Upon the initial introduction, Lincoln famously quipped, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Accounts of the exact wording vary, and in fact the whole story may be apocryphal, but it still speaks to the way that art and media help us make sense of history as it unfolds around us. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, if not Stowe’s novel, then perhaps works like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1961) or 1845's The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass) gave 19th century readers new ways of understanding the “peculiar institution” over which the Civil War would be fought. As the war progressed, books like these continued to act as touchstones for anyone seeking to understand the conflict, the nation, and the world.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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