Category Archives: Books

The Bible In Early America


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ben_franklins_worldWhat role did the Bible play in the development of British North America and early United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we address this question by exploring the place of the Bible in early America. Our guide for this exploration is Mark Noll, the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and the author of In the Beginning Was the Word The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783 (Oxford University Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/073

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Gardens of Eden: Long Island’s Planned Communities


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gardens of edenRobert B. MacKay’s new book Gardens of Eden: Long Island’s Early Twentieth Century Planned Communities (2015, W.W Norton & Co.) examines Long Island at the turn of the twentieth century, and how it saw an explosion of architectural ambition.

Well-known for the country houses that bloomed through the Progressive Era as seasonal havens for the captains of New York finance and industry, Long Island also afforded people of more modest means the opportunity to strike out from the city.

Gardens of Eden tells the story of Long Island’s “residential parks,” richly gardened suburbs with such distinctive directives as the exclusive housing of teachers, public outreach by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a taboo on right-angled intersections. Continue reading

History Book Considers America in the 1990s


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america in the 90sNina Esperanza Serrianne’s new book America in the Nineties (2015, Syracuse University Press) takes a step back to the decade of the 1990s, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

This book delves into the post–Cold War and pre–War on Terror era which was a unique moment in American history regarding both foreign and domestic policies. Continue reading

A Short History of the Finger Lakes Wine Country


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finger lakes wine countryThe new book Finger Lakes Wine Country (2015 Arcadia Publishing), by Finger Lakes local author Sarah S. Thompson, is a photographic journey covering 150 years of viticulture and winemaking in New York’s Finger Lakes region, and its pivotal role in American wine history.

The book is a regional history of the wine industry, told through more than 200 vintage images from collections of area wineries, museums, historical societies, archives and passionate residents. Continue reading

The DePeyster Family: From Loyalists to Loyal Citizens


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from loyalists to loyal citizensAuthor Valerie H. McKito’s new book, From Loyalists to Loyal Citizens: The DePeyster Family of New York (2015 SUNY Press) takes a look at the DePeyster family, one of the first families of New Amsterdam. The family ranked among the wealthiest of New York during the early days of the American Republic. The DePeysters were also unapologetic Loyalists, serving in the King’s forces during the American Revolution.

After the war, the four sons left the United States for Canada and Great Britain. Ten years later, one son, Frederick DePeyster, returned to New York, embraced his Loyalist past, and utilized his British connections to become a prominent and successful merchant. The DePeysters went on to become true Patriots, zealously supporting US interests in the War of 1812. Continue reading

Saratoga and Hubbardton, 1777


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ben_franklins_worldHistorians refer to the Battle of Saratoga as the turning point of the American Revolution.

They argue the patriot army’s defeat of British General John Burgoyne’s forces convinced the French to enter the War for Independence. Together, French and American forces cornered Charles, Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 and ended the war.

This is the quick version of Saratoga, but as we know, history is more complicated.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the Saratoga Campaign of 1777 in more depth with Bruce M. Venter, author of The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America (Arcadia, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/071.

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‘No One Helped’: The Myth of Urban Apathy


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no one helpedMarcia M. Gallo takes a look at one of America’s most infamous crime stories, in No One Helped (2015 Cornell University).  This new book examines  the 1964 rape and murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, in a middle-class neighborhood of Queens.

Front-page reports in the New York Times incorrectly identified thirty-eight indifferent witnesses to the crime, fueling fears of apathy and urban decay. Genovese’s life, including her lesbian relationship, was also obscured in media accounts of the crime.

Fifty years later, the story of Kitty Genovese continues to circulate in popular culture. Although it is now known that there were far fewer witnesses to the crime than was reported in 1964, the moral of the story continues to be urban apathy. No One Helped traces the Genovese story’s development and resilience while challenging the myth it created. Continue reading

Firefight: The Battle to Integrate the NYFD


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firefightGinger Adams Otis’ new book Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest (2015 Palgrave MacMillan) offers a fresh look at New York City’s firefighters’ critical Civil Rights history.

Firefight is a narrative from veteran reporter Ginger Adams Otis that delves deep into the struggle of black firefighters to truly integrate the FDNY – the largest fire department in the U.S.

It sheds light on the long, painful effort to achieve the still-elusive post-racial America and shares the untold history of the black men and women who battled to join the Bravest. Continue reading

Book of Early NYC Church Records Published


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liber a part 2A new book, Liber A of the Collegiate Churches of New York, Part 2, provides new insight on colonial New York as a diverse New World economic hub. This volume includes a more-complete set of records of early life in the church, a cornerstone of colonial life.

Liber A Part 2 contains 17th-century records from the Reformed Dutch Church of the City of the New York, founded in 1628, which later became the Collegiate Churches of New York. The book includes details about daily life, baptism and marriage practices from this period, providing fundamental context. This volume is a companion to Liber A , published in 2009, and includes the church’s earliest moments such as details of its construction and the royal charter that led to its founding.

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Free Citizens Kidnapped Before the Civil War


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast David Fiske discusses his new book, “Solomon Northup’s Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War” (Praeger, 2016). Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University professor and PBS host, said, “Fiske’s efforts to document these victims and the crimes that robbed them of their families and freedom are heroic indeed and should be applauded.” Fiske previously was the co-author of “Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.” You can listen to the entire podcast here. Continue reading