This week’s showcase is on historical subjects. January 27th was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, and new to the collection “is the catalogue of the first-ever traveling exhibition about the…concentration camp.” We also have histories on women fighting in the American Civil War, treatment of African Americans’ on their arrival in America, the Constitution, and an early history on polygamy in America.
- Auschwitz : Not Long Ago. Not Far Away / edited by Robert Jan van Pelt, with Luis Ferreiro and Miriam Greenbaum – “This book tells a story to shake the conscience of the world. It is the catalogue of the first-ever traveling exhibition about the Auschwitz concentration camp, where 1.1 million people–mostly Jews, but also non-Jewish Poles, Roma, and others–lost their lives. More than 280 objects and images from the exhibition are illustrated herein. Drawn from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and other collections around the world, they range from the intimate (such as victims’ family snapshots and personal belongings) to the immense (an actual surviving barrack from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz satellite camp); all are eloquent in their testimony. An authoritative yet accessible text weaves the stories behind these artifacts into an encompassing history of Auschwitz–from a Polish town at the crossroads of Europe, to the dark center of the Holocaust, to a powerful site of remembrance. [This book] is an essential volume for everyone who is interested in history and its lessons.”–Book jacket
- Women’s War : Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War / by Stephanie McCurry – “We think of war as a man’s world, but women have always played active roles in times of violence and been left to pick up the pieces in societies decimated by war. In this groundbreaking reconsideration of the Civil War, the award-winning author of ‘Confederate Reckoning’ invites us to see America’s bloodiest conflict not just as pitting brother against brother but as a woman’s war. When the war broke out, Union soldiers assumed Confederate women would be innocent noncombatants. Experience soon challenged this simplistic belief. Through a trio of dramatic stories, Stephanie McCurry reveals the vital and sometimes confounding roles women played on and off the battlefield. We meet Clara Judd, a Confederate spy whose imprisonment for treason sparked heated controversy, defying the principle of civilian immunity and leading to lasting changes in the laws of war. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved women escaped across Union lines, upending emancipation policies that extended only to enslaved men. The Union’s response was to classify fugitive black women as ‘soldiers’ wives,’ regardless of whether they were married–offering them some protection but placing new obstacles on their path to freedom. In the war’s aftermath, the Confederate grande dame Gertrude Thomas wrestled with her loss of status and of her former slaves. War, emancipation, and economic devastation affected her family intimately, and through her life McCurry helps us see how fundamental the changes of Reconstruction were. ‘Women’s War’ dismantles the long-standing fiction that women are outside of war and shows that they were indispensable actors in the Civil War, as they have been–and continue to be–in all wars.”–Publisher description
- Collective Amnesia : American Apartheid : African Americans’ 400 Years in North America, 1619-2019 / by Eugene DeFriest Bétit – “‘Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid’ is a comprehensive study of the treatment African Americans have encountered since their arrival in Virginia in 1619, a saga of racism and white supremacy. It is actual history, not the popular mythology about the Civil War and its aftermath taught in our schools. Numerous tables, photographs, maps, and charts make the study easy to read. The topic is extremely pertinent due to the four hundredth anniversary of African Americans’ presence in North America in 2019 and encouragement of racism from the White House. Chapters cover white supremacy and racism, slavery, the service of US Colored Troops in the Civil War, devastation of the South, evolution of emancipation, and Reconstruction and the Freedman’s Bureau. Other chapters address ‘redemption’ and the ‘lost cause,’ Jim Crow, blacks’ significant military contributions in the two world wars, the Great Migration, the civil rights movement, and the backlash that continues today. The book also addresses contemporary issues, including white supremacy, Confederate statuary, and evaluates the status of blacks compared to other groups in society. Note is taken of Professor James Whitman’s observation that Hitler admired Jim Crow and antimiscegenation laws, as well as Richard Rothstein’s study of federal and local housing law, documenting whites’ responsibility for creating inner-city ghettos.”–Publisher description
- The Second Founding : How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution / by Eric Foner – “From the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre-Civil War mass meetings of African-American ‘colored-citizens’ and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.”–Book jacket
- Polygamy : an Early American History / by Sarah M. S. Pearsall – “A groundbreaking examination of polygamy showing that monogamy was not the only form marriage took in early America. Today we tend to think of polygamy as an unnatural marital arrangement characteristic of fringe sects or uncivilized peoples. Historian Sarah Pearsall shows us that polygamy’s surprising history encompasses numerous colonies, indigenous communities, and segments of the American nation. Polygamy–as well as the fight against it–illuminates many touchstones of American history: the Pueblo Revolt and other uprisings against the Spanish; Catholic missions in New France; New England settlements and King Philip’s War; the entrenchment of African slavery in the Chesapeake; the Atlantic Enlightenment; the American Revolution; missions and settlements in the West; and the rise of Mormonism. Pearsall expertly opens up broader questions about monogamy’s emergence as the only marital option, tracing the impact of colonial events on property, theology, feminism, imperialism, and the regulation of sexuality. She shows that heterosexual monogamy was never the only model of marriage in North America.”–Book jacket
Look for these books on the display case past the Reference Desk. If you need help locating them, or would like to put any on hold, don’t hesitate to “Ask a Librarian” for assistance.