Showing posts with label #greatreads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #greatreads. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, a Review

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

I am of the generation that grew up watching the U.S. lead the Space Race.  As such, I have a great affinity for all things aviation, especially the Pioneers.  So, it was with great excitement I read two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough’s new book The Wright Brothers.  This is a quick and easy read that tells the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, and their struggle to be taken seriously as they taught the world how to fly.

McCullough uses a vast array of sources to bring the Wright Brothers to life.  Among the sources used are the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence. 

Wilbur and Orville Wright
From the Special Collections and Archives,
Wright State University
At the heart of the story is the Wright family and their close relationship to one another.  It becomes apparent that their father, Milton, and their sister Katharine were just as important to their success as the two brothers themselves.  Indeed, I knew little about Katharine before reading the book, but now realize she was a pivotal part of their eventual success.  Further, the book shows just how hands on the brothers were in their quest for flight.  At the heart of who they were was the fact that they were bicycle mechanics with no formal engineering education, but would conquer flight like no other.  Their first attempts to fly at Kitty Hawk show the vast stamina and determination they had.  After reading the Kitty Hawk descriptions, I was left in awe that they were ever able to take flight. 

What was also interesting to read is what the Wright Brothers did to make their invention of the airplane public. I found it insane that locals had trouble believing they were actually flying and the cynicism they faced by many in the American press, questioning whether or not they were first in flight.  Yet, they were treated like heroes in France. It was the French, not the Americans who sought out the Wright Brothers. In France, large numbers of people would travel great distances to see their public flying demonstrations.  As a reader, it was shocking to learn how Americans were skeptical of the Wright Brothers, yet the French welcomed the Brothers as great heroes and embraced all that was aviation.

Unfortunately, the book only covers a small portion of the Wright Brothers life after inventing the airplane, ending in 1910.  The Epilogue simply gives a quick rundown to the end of each Orville, Wilbur and Katherine’s life.  Considering the detail given to the lead up of the first flight and the initial aftermath, it would have been nice to see how Orville and Katharine fared after Wilbur’s death in 1912.   

Just like all other McCullough books, the reader will be transported to an earlier time and you will learn more about the Wright Brothers than you ever thought possible. If you are like me and love the world of aviation or history, I would enthusiastically recommend picking up this book.  It is definitely worth a read!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Give History as a Gift this Holiday Season!

By Nina Kendall

During the holiday season our thoughts turn to family, friends, and the things we love. It is a great time to connect with people and share what we treasure like history. While anytime is a great time for a history book, this holiday you can make someone’s day with a history book supported by the Georgia Humanities Council. As part of the mission of to ensure that culture and humanities remain a part of the life of all Georgians, the Georgia Humanities Council contributes to book projects throughout the year with the University of Georgia Press.  These projects highlight the experiences of Georgians from the Revolutionary War to modern times. From guide books inspired by the Works Progress Administration to modern nonfiction, there is a selection for every reader to enjoy.  Check out the book partnerships below and add one to your holiday gift list.

Are you interested in history? Look at these options!

African American Life in the Georgia Low Country
Explore the history of the Atlantic world via the story of African Americans along the Georgia coast for more than 200 years.   African American Life in the Georgia Low country is a broad look at the complexity of life in this region.  This work includes essays on the double-edged freedom that the American Revolution made possible to black women, the Low Country as site of the largest gathering of African Muslims in early North America, and the coexisting worlds of Christianity and Conjuring in coastal Georgia and the links to African practices.

Crossroads of Conflict
Crossroads of Conflict is based on a comprehensive survey of sites identified by the Georgia Civil War Commission in 2000. It features covers 350 historic sites in detail, bringing the experience of the war to life.  This geographically organized guide includes color photographs and period images that document the sites of the Civil War in Georgia. From battlefields to cemeteries, the war experiences of all Georgians, are included in this updated text.

Democracy Restored
Democracy Restored: A History of the Georgia State Capitol explores the history of the State Capitol and highlights some of the many important events and decisions that have taken place there.  It also examines the symbolism of the building, including its architecture and monuments. Democracy Restored, is a beautifully-illustrated volume co-written by Dr. Timothy Crimmins and Mrs. Anne Farrisee and featuring the work of award-winning photographer, Ms. Diane Kirkland.

Georgia Odyssey
Georgia Odyssey is a lively survey of the state’s history, from its beginnings as a European colony to its current standing as an international business mecca, from the self-imposed isolation of its Jim Crow era to its role as host of the centennial Olympic Games and beyond, from its long reign as the linchpin state of the Democratic Solid South to its current dominance by the Republican Party.

Oglethorpe's Dream
Oglethorpe's Dream combines the powerful writing of Georgia's Poet Laureate, David Bottoms, with the stunning photography of Diane Kirkland. From the mountain forests to the sea islands, from the architecture of the cities to lunchtime gatherings in small towns, Kirkland gives us a gallery of spectacular images, showcasing the state in its breadth, beauty, and diversity. Marrying landscape to history, Bottoms gives voice to a people filled with courage, pain, conviction, and above all, hope. Together they capture the natural beauty of the diverse landscape, the richness of the state's storied past, and the essence of its spirited people.

The Civil War in Georgia: A New Georgia Encyclopedia Companion
The Civil War in Georgia reflects the most current scholarship in terms of how the Civil War has come to be studied, documented, and analyzed.  It provides a comprehensive introduction to many aspects of the war.  This edited volume of articles from the New Georgia Encyclopedia explores the Civil War and its impact on Georgia. The book also explores home-front conditions in depth, with an emphasis on emancipation, dissent, Unionism, and the experience and activity of African Americans and women.

Interested in Literature? These books are for you.

After O'Connor
After O'Connor: Stories from Contemporary Georgia is an anthology that showcases Georgia's thriving literary scene of the past fifteen years. Edited by noted literary scholar Hugh Ruppersberg, the volume includes thirty works of short fiction by authors who were born in Georgia or who spent a significant part of their lives and careers in the state. Embracing the social, cultural, and ethnic variety in today's Georgia, After O'Connor both advances and helps redefine the great southern storytelling tradition.

New Georgia Encyclopedia Companion to Literature
The New Georgia Encyclopedia Companion to Georgia Literature, is the first of the New Georgia Encyclopedia to be presented in print. The volume contains biographical discussions and analysis on Georgia's writers from nineteenth century to the present. It also explores authors' works, their contributions to Georgia 's history and culture, and their connections to our regional and
national story. The Companion covers the state's important books like Jean Toomer's Cane, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind and Lillian Smith's Strange Fruit. Georgia's literary journals, literary prizes and some of Georgia's literary organizations are also covered in the volume.

Writing the South through the Self: Explorations in Southern Autobiography
What does it mean to be Southern? For over twenty years Dr. John Inscoe of the University of Georgia has been teaching a class on southern history through autobiography. In Writing the South through the Self, Inscoe draws on the reflections of Maya Angelou, Rick Bragg, Jimmy Carter, Bessie and Sadie Delany, Lillian Smith, and more to illustrate the complexities of life in the South. The power of place, strength and struggles of family, and questions and conflict concerning race, class, and ethnic identity are all explored. 

Book descriptions from

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Resolve to Put More History in Your New Year

Love History? Feel like you are missing out. Want to introduce your family and friends to things you love? Try these suggestions below to put more history in your year.

·         Visit a historic site, state park, or a National Park. Many of these locals have low or no admission cost and feature programs for the entire family. Ask about a Junior Ranger program for kids to participate in. Look here to find a National Park:

Grand Teton National Park
·         Visit a museum. Any museum. Museums are great places to immerse yourself in history. Further many museums host events and programs throughout the year to engage people of all ages. If you are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch
      debit or credit card holder, check here to learn what museums you can visit for free the first weekend of each month.
Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
·         Read a good book. Consult the reviews on our site or use What Should I Read Next?  to find a book based on ones you have enjoyed in the past.

·         Volunteer. Find out how you can support local history.  Look here for opportunities to enjoy history and share it with others.

Ft. King George State Park
·         Attend a reenactment. See history live. Check here to find a reenactment near you.

·         Play a Game. Check out our history game of the week recommendations.