by Melody on April 30th, 2013
On April 15, 2013, Columbia University announced the 97th Annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, letters, drama, and music. Curious about this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners? Take a look at the following books:
Fiction–The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. From the media release: “an exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.” Read the rest of this entry »
by Maeve on April 24th, 2013
Iowa City Public Library begins almost three weeks of programming related to the Civil War on Thursday, April 25. ICPL is fortunate to be one of the two libraries in Iowa to receive a grant from the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History to provide programming related to the Civil War and to host the Civil War 150, a national traveling exhibition, (the Olwein Public Library also received a grant). The panel exhibition is organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with The Library of America. The project Civil War 150: Exploring the War and It’s Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It, has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
One of the many programs offered is a book discussion of the Civil War. The title we selected is “The Civil War : a concise history” by Louis Masur. A limited number of free copies of Masur’s Civil War book are available at the Reference Desk. The discussion will be Saturday, May 4 at 10:30 in Meeting Room E. I am sure we also talk about other works on the Civil War. And if you are interested learning more about the Civil War the library can provide you with a wealth of both print and audio materials.
For more information about the other programs related to the Civil War 150, visit www.icpl.org/civilwar150/. Please join us for our opening reception Thursday evening at 7 pm. Three local musicians, Guy Drollinger, Mike Haverkamp and Dave Hicks will play Civil War era music and Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections & University Archives at the UI Library, will give a presentation on the UI Civil War Letters & Diaries Digitization Project.
by Melody on April 12th, 2013
We have this little thing by the Reference Desk on the second floor called “In the News.” I am a news junkie and enjoy the opportunities when I get to pick the book that sits under that sign.
Today, my “In the News” book searching took me to CNN.com, which then compelled me to browse through the photo essay “Life Behind the Picture: The Liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945.” (Trigger warning: Concentration camp atrocities are not censored in these photos.) We know the 21st century is not immune to issues of genocide and concentration camps. Last fall, I downloaded the e-Audio book, Escape from Camp 14, and listened in horror to what the narrator had endured throughout his family’s time in a North Korea prison camp. (That is *not* an audiobook meant for bedtime!)
To honor those who endured such suffering and to remember that great liberation 68 years ago this month, the following are recommended reads that you can check out from ICPL. Read the rest of this entry »
by Maeve on September 18th, 2012
2012 marks the centennial of Homecoming at the University of Iowa. Come learn about the corn monument, pageants and parades when David McCartney, University of Iowa Archivist, shares football related materials from the collection, including homecoming buttons, programs, and videos of early football games, from the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections and University Archives on Wednesday, September 19 at Noon in Meeting Room A.
The Iowa City Public Library has a number of items to whet your interest in Iowa football including Ellen Buchanan’s 1992 interview with Coach Hayden Fry from ICPL’s Tell Me Your Stories series. The interview can be streamed from icpl.org or borrowed from our collection. Other Iowa football materials include “Fields of Glory” a DVD history of Kinnick Stadium as well as a number of books on Iowa football including two on Nile Kinnick, Iowa’s great football hero and only Heisman trophy winner.
by Andrea on September 4th, 2012
From 500,000 years ago to today, Jim Murphy and Alison Blank explore hardy tuberculosis in Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-ending Search for a Cure. In addition to the skeleton of a 500,000 year-old young male in Western Turkey, depictions in art and literature establish its widespread existence throughout human history around the world. Because of the microscopic nature of the disease, it was not until 1880 that its cause was discovered. The result was a long history of cruel and ineffective treatments until some success with sanitoriums in the 1800s and then, finally, in 1943 a sick chicken led to the discovery of streptomycin.
As well as the process of scientific discovery, the social impact of tuberculosis is given extensive treatment by Murphy and Blank. The poor were often denied treatment, but campaigns to improve sanitation conditions in cities were beneficial to the poor. TB even played a role in early battles over Mexican immigration to California and the American Medical Association’s membership restrictions and their mostly successful attempts to close African American medical schools.
Despite the record of progress in the fight against TB, the threat of drug-resistant strains of TB means it continues to threaten today’s world making this an important read for current as well as historical interest. Fortunately, the ongoing fight to treat and diagnose TB is getting help many quarters including the fifteen -pound Gambian pouched rat that can successfully sniff out tuberculosis bacilli!
by Andrea on April 29th, 2012
In 1937, everybody in Beijing was on edge. Except Pamela Werner. The nineteen-year-old daughter of a former British consul, Pamela had grown up comfortably, but largely unsupervised in Armour Factory Alley, outside the Legation Quarter where most foreigners in Beijing lived at the time. She confidently travelled between both worlds boldly declaring “I am not afraid of anything.” Unfortunately her confidence was misplaced.
In Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, Paul French uses the investigation of the vicious murder of Pamela Werner to highlight the tensions between the Chinese
Armour Factory Alley Today
and the privileged foreign residents of the Legation Quarter and the fear that both felt with the impending Japanese occupation of the city. The detection work is restricted by the requirement that Col. Han Shih-ching work alongside British Detective Chief Inspector Richard Dennis with Col. Han discouraged from questioning foreigners and DCI Dennis restricted to investigation inside the Legation Quarter. Ultimately, her murder would be declared unsolved as the Japanese occupation took priority. Her father’s relentless quest to solve his daughter’s murder provided many of the resources Paul French calls upon to finally piece the puzzle together.
Fox Tower Where Pamela's Body Was Found
While this book is recommended for any fan of detective fiction or Chinese history, it was especially engaging if you are familiar with or planning a trip to Beijing. Using the the map and audio tour at the book’s website, plan a walk along Pamela’s route from her house, through the Badlands and into the Legation Quarter. Kuijiachang Hutong where Pamela and her widowed father lived on Armour Factor Alley is suitably spooky while the Tartar Wall near the Fox Tower (where her body was found) is magical at night – filled with people dancing in the park and, in spring, the scent of cherry blossoms. The hulking embassy buildings with their distinctive architecture make a striking end to the trek, but don’t stop there. Keep going past the official walk to swanky Capital M (just south of Tiananmen Square) for drinks overlooking Zheng Yang Gate.
by Anne on April 3rd, 2012
I admit it: I like celebrating anniversaries. Whether it’s for Dickens’ 200th birthday or the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I mark the dates with a book or a documentary. However, due to a certain film by a certain director, I wasn’t interested in the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15th). As far as I was concerned, the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. End of story. After stumbling upon Andrew Wilson’s Shadow of the Titanic, I’ve changed my mind.
Rather than providing an account of the sinking of the Titanic or a history of its building and demise, Wilson focuses on the people who survived the disaster and how the event was a turning point in their lives. Some, like Renee Harris, Madeleine Astor, and Marian Thayer, lost their husbands; J. Bruce Ismay and Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon lost their reputations. Silent film actress Dorothy Gibson survived the sinking, but had to relive the whole experience when she starred in Saved from the Titanic, a film made days after the disaster by Jules Brulatour, who also happened to be Gibson’s lover. (That relationship didn’t last long.) What is fascinating is how some used the experience to change their lives and work for something, while others found the Titanic a black mark that they couldn’t escape. Of course, all the stories are noticeably those of first-class women.
There are times when I wish Wilson held back. He would often surmise what individuals were thinking or what their priorities were with little evidence, making harsh judgments on certain survivors. However, it is an interesting and surprising approach to the Titanic‘s history.
You can mark the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic by picking up Shadow of the Titanic (or the thirty other books we own). The library is also showing A Night to Remember (1958) on Thursday, April 12th at 7 pm in Meeting Room A.
by Jason on March 8th, 2012
This nonfiction book, primarily aimed at upper elementary and junior high students, gives a quick, readable overview of the iconic American civil rights photograph of Elizabeth Eckford and the attempted integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Tougas uses the first chapter to give a riveting account, with primary source dialogue, of what was to be 15-year-old Elizabeth’s first day of school at the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She and eight other African-American students (now known as the Little Rock Nine) were to begin classes on September 4th, 1957, but when Elizabeth arrived she was alone and faced an angry mob of hundreds of protestors and armed National Guardsmen who barred her entrance. The photo spreads and personal accounts are shocking albeit a bit emotionally distant due to the succinct text.
Being part of the Compass Point Books “Captured History” series, the book features large photos depicting the events of that day and the aftermath of this Civil Rights Movement struggle. There is quite a bit of discussion about the iconic photograph taken by photographer Will Counts of white student, Hazel Bryan, shouting racial abuse at Elizabeth. Readers will learn about the impact photojournalism has on the world and what it can feel like to be defined not only by your skin color but by a single photograph.
Short chapters with simple, effective sentences also allow tweens and teens to easily follow the developments of the integration battle in Little Rock, give a basic history of the Civil Rights Movement, and provide a “where are they now” of Will Counts and the Little Rock Nine students. Tougas’ book gives us a good introduction to the topic and includes a list of further reading to help students know where to go for more detailed information.
by Susan on February 10th, 2012
The 2012 All Iowa Reads title is Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, only the second nonfiction book in the program’s nine year history. Strength in What Remains tells the story of Deogratis, or Deo, who as a 22 year old medical student barely escapes the Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in Burundi. He finds himself in New York City in 1994 with no English skills and $200. The story moves back and forth in time and place — from Africa to New York. And. although the horror of events in Africa is almost undescribable, living poor on the streets of New York as a young black man with no money is not an easy life either. Deo is helped by remarkable, generous people — but, the personal courage and fortitude needed to prevail is his. As a member of the All Iowa Reads Committee I recently did a program on this book with Kirkwood instructor, George Minot. He said the key to good nonfiction writing is to “make what is true believable.” Everyone should read this inspiring story from a great author who succeeds in that goal.
by Anne on December 14th, 2011
Primum non nocere. When Dr. Doctor W. Bliss (yes, his first name was “Doctor”) responded to the news that President James Garfield was shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Station, he should have heeded the “first, do no harm” principle. Instead, he was determined to save the President. He poked and prodded the wound with his fingers and metal instruments trying to locate the bullet. Not only was he unable to find the bullet, his actions created an infection. Fighting blood poisoning, Garfield suffered for two whole months before succumbing to the infection. Bliss is only one of the cast of characters in Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: a tale of madness, medicine, and the murder of a president.
Millard’s book tells the story of the individuals involved with Garfield’s assassination: President James Garfield, Charles Guiteau, his assassin, Dr. Bliss, the attending surgeon, Senator Roscoe Conkling, his political rival, and Alexander Graham Bell, who was racing to create a device that would locate the bullet. The assassination and its aftermath are fascinating subjects on their own, but Millard also covers post-Civil War politics, civil service reform, mental illness, technological innovation, and changes in the medical field. It is well-written with interesting asides and facts (like Dr. Doctor Bliss). It is a pleasure to read. If you are interested in 19th century US history, the history of medicine, or the history of inventions, please pick up this book. It will not disappoint.