Category Archives: Books

Stony Brook Harbor: A New Natural History


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between-stony-brook-harbor-tides-bookStony Brook Harbor, or Three Sisters Harbor as it was known historically, is a pristine Long Island north shore pocket bay.

Untouched by major commercialization, it has been designated a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat by the New York State Department of State and a Significant Coastal Habitat by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Despite these designations however, there is constant pressure to increase development in and around the harbor. Continue reading

A Cattaraugus County Man’s Account of World War 1


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somewhere in france book coverThe United States entered World War I in April 1917, and by the end of the conflict two million American soldiers were fighting on French soil.  One of them was Private Frederick A. Kittleman. In Somewhere in France: The World War I Letters and Journal of Private Frederick A. Kittleman (Excelsior Editions, 2017), Thomas J. Schaeper transcribes journal entries and letters, showing a young man proud to join the army and excited about his adventures.

The letters are contrasted with Kittleman’s journal, which recounts the gritty details of battle that he shielded from his family in their correspondence. Schaeper provides detailed annotations of the journal and letters, which, together with a number of illustrations, paint a picture of the experiences of a private in WWI, his opinion on America’s participation in the final, bloody campaigns of the war, and the psychological and physical effects that the war had on him. Continue reading

New Critical Edition of ‘Twelve Years a Slave’


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twelve years a slave bookTwelve Years A Slave (W.W. Norton Critical Edition, 2017) offers the autobiography of Solomon Northup, based on the 1853 first edition. It is accompanied by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kevin Burke’s introduction and detailed explanatory footnotes.

Solomon Northup was a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release. Continue reading

Laurence Hauptman On Chief Chapman Scanandoah


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an-oneida-indian-in-foreign-watersProfessor Laurence M. Hauptman joined host Jane E. Wilcox on the latest Forget-Me-Not Hour podcast to discuss the history of the Iroquois Confederacy in Central and Western New York and his latest book, An Oneida Indian in Foreign Waters: The Life of Chief Chapman Scanandoah 1870-1953.

Hauptman told the story of Chief Chapman Scanandoah, gave tips for researching the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora, as well as discussed the status of Iroquois treaties and land claims. Larry also talked about his inspiration for writing numerous books on the Iroquois. Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

New Book: The Dutch Moment


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the-dutch-moment-bookIn The Dutch Moment: War,Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2016), Wim Klooster shows how the Dutch built and eventually lost an Atlantic empire that stretched from the homeland in the United Provinces to the Hudson River and from Brazil and the Caribbean to the African Gold Coast. The fleets and armies that fought for the Dutch in the decades-long war against Spain included numerous foreigners, largely drawn from countries in northwestern Europe. Likewise, many settlers of Dutch colonies were born in other parts of Europe or the New World. The Dutch would not have been able to achieve military victories without the native alliances they carefully cultivated. The Dutch Atlantic was quintessentially interimperial, multinational, and multiracial. At the same time, it was an empire entirely designed to benefit the United Provinces. Continue reading

A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park


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a-history-of-brooklyn-bridge-parkNancy Webster and David Shirley’s new book, A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park (Columbia University Press, 2016), recounts the grassroots, multi-voiced, and contentious effort, beginning in the 1980s, to transform Brooklyn’s defunct piers into a beautiful, urban oasis.

By the 1970s, the Brooklyn piers had become a wasteland on the New York City waterfront. Today, they have been transformed into a park that is enjoyed by countless Brooklynites and visitors from across New York City and around the world. The movement to resist commercial development on the piers reveals how concerned citizens came together to shape the future of their community. Continue reading

The Borscht Belt: Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland


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the-borscht-belt-bookThe Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland (Cornell University Press, 2016) by Marisa Schenfeld, which features essays by Stefan Kanfer and Jenna Weissman Joselit, presents Scheinfeld’s photographs of abandoned sites where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies once boomed in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York. Today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens of summer swims, Saturday night dances, and comedy performances. But its current state, like that of many other formerly glorious regions, is nothing like its earlier status. Forgotten about and exhausted, much of its structural environment has been left to decay.  Continue reading

India and the Making of Britain & America


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ben_franklins_worldNeither colonial North America nor the United States developed apart from the rest of the world. Since their founding, both the colonies and the United States have participated in the politics, economics, and cultures of the Atlantic World.

And every so often, the politics, economics, and cultures of lands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans intersected with and influenced those of the Atlantic World. That’s why in this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we’re going to explore the origins of the English trade with India and how that trade connected and intersected with the English North American colonies.

Our guide for this investigation is Jonathan Eacott, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside and author of Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1700-1830 (UNCPress, 2016). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/111

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A History of Housing in New York City Revised


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a-history-of-housing-in-new-york-cityA standard in the field since its publication in 1992, A History of Housing in New York City traces New York’s housing development from 1850 to the present in text and profuse illustrations.

Richard Plunz explores the housing of all classes, with comparative discussion of the development of types ranging from the single-family house to the high-rise apartment tower. His analysis is placed within the context of the broader political and cultural development of New York City. Continue reading

The Muckers: A Narrative of the Crapshooters Club


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the-muckers-bookIn 1899, William Osborne Dapping was a Harvard-bound nineteen-year-old when he began writing down exploits from his rough childhood in the immigrant slums of New York City.

Now published for the first time, The Muckers: A Narrative of the Crapshooters Club (Syracuse University Press, 2016) recovers a long-lost fictionalized account of Dapping’s life in a gang of rowdy boys. Simultaneously a polished work of social reform literature and a rejoinder to the era’s alarming exposés of the “dangerous classes,” The Muckers stands as an important reform era primary document. Continue reading