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American Dictators

Frank Hague, Nucky Johnson, and the Perfection of the Urban Political Machine

Steven Hart

One man was tongue-tied and awkward around women, in many ways a mama's boy at heart, although his reputation for thuggery was well earned. The other was a playboy, full of easy charm and ready jokes, his appetite for high living a matter of public record. One man tolerated gangsters and bootleggers as long as they paid their dues to his organization. The other was effectively a gangster himself, so crooked that he hosted a national gathering of America's most ruthless killers. One man never drank alcohol. The other, from all evidence, seldom drank anything else.

American Dictators is the dual biography of two of America’s greatest political bosses: Frank Hague and Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. Packed with compelling information and written in an informal, sometimes humorous style, the book shows Hague and Johnson at the peak of their power and the strength of their political machines during the years of Prohibition and the Great Depression. Steven Hart compares how both men used their influence to benefit and punish the local citizenry, amass huge personal fortunes, and sometimes collaborate to trounce their enemies.

Similar in their ruthlessness, both men were very different in appearance and temperament. Hague, the mayor of Jersey City, intimidated presidents and wielded unchallenged power for three decades. He never drank and was happily married to his wife for decades. He also allowed gangsters to run bootlegging and illegal gambling operations as long as they paid protection money. Johnson, the political boss of Atlantic City, and the inspiration for the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire, presided over corruption as well, but for a shorter period of time. He was notorious for his decadent lifestyle. Essentially a gangster himself, Johnson hosted the infamous Atlantic City conference that fostered the growth of organized crime.

Both Hague and Johnson shrewdly integrated otherwise disenfranchised groups into their machines and gave them a stake in political power. Yet each failed to adapt to changing demographics and circumstances. In American Dictators, Hart paints a balanced portrait of their accomplishments and their failures.

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An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands

Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter, 1890-1893

selected and edited by Sandra Bonura and Deborah Day

The book consists of selected and edited letters from Hawai’i during the revolution period (1890-1893) by Carrie Prudence Winter (1866-1942), a young missionary teacher at Kawaiaha’o Seminary in Honolulu describing in great detail the operation of the Seminary, the lives of the Hawaiian girls there, and her experiences in Hawai’i. Miss Winter listed all of her Hawaiian students, and the Who’s Who appendix identifies them and other individuals mentioned in the book. The book also reproduces some examples of student homework, including 4 autobiographical essays by children she taught. This book includes a foreword by Dr. C. Kalani Beyer, Kamehameha School graduate, a noted scholar in the history of Hawai’i and education. It includes a hand drawn map by the renowned artist, Barron Storey. The book is profusely illustrated by original photographs, most of which have never before been published.

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An American Hometown

Terre Haute, Indiana, 1927

Tom Roznowski. Foreword by Scott Russell Sanders

They lived "green" out of necessity -- walking to work, repairing everything from worn shoes to wristwatches, recycling milk bottles and packing containers. Music was largely heard live and most residential streets had shade trees. The nearby Wabash River -- a repeated subject of story and song -- transported Sunday picnickers to public parks. In the form of an old-fashioned city directory, An American Hometown celebrates a bygone American era, focusing on life in 1920s Terre Haute, Indiana. With artfully drawn biographical sketches and generously illustrated histories, noted musician, historian, and storyteller Tom Roznowski not only evokes a beauty worth remembering, but also brings to light just how many of our modern ideas of sustainable living are deeply rooted in the American tradition.

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American Indians and National Forests

Theodore Catton

American Indians and National Forests tells the untold story of how the U.S. Forest Service and tribal nations dealt with sweeping changes in forest use, ownership, and management over the last century and a half. Indians and U.S. foresters came together over a shared conservation ethic on many cooperative endeavors; yet, they often clashed over how the nation’s forests ought to be valued and cared for on matters ranging from huckleberry picking and vision quests to road building and recreation development.

All national forest lands were once Indian lands. Tribes’ modern-day interests in their ancestral lands run the gamut, from asserting treaty rights to hunt and fish to protecting their people’s burial grounds and other sacred places to having a say in ecological restoration.

Marginalized in American society and long denied a seat at the table of public land stewardship, American Indian tribes have at last taken their rightful place and are making themselves heard. Weighing indigenous perspectives on the environment is an emerging trend in public land management in the United States and around the world. The Forest Service has been a strong partner in that movement over the past quarter century.

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The American Midwest

An Interpretive Encyclopedia

Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, editors

This first-ever encyclopedia of the Midwest seeks to embrace this large and diverse area, to give it voice, and help define its distinctive character. Organized by topic, it encourages readers to reflect upon the region as a whole. Each section moves from the general to the specific, covering broad themes in longer introductory essays, filling in the details in the shorter entries that follow. There are portraits of each of the region's twelve states, followed by entries on society and culture, community and social life, economy and technology, and public life. The book offers a wealth of information about the region's surprising ethnic diversity -- a vast array of foods, languages, styles, religions, and customs -- plus well-informed essays on the region's history, culture and values, and conflicts. A site of ideas and innovations, reforms and revivals, and social and physical extremes, the Midwest emerges as a place of great complexity, signal importance, and continual fascination.

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An American Provence

By Thomas P. Huber

“I have talked about luscious wines and succulent fruit and exquisite dinners. But there may be no more evocative experience of the two valleys than the smell of new-mown hay in the fields at dusk. If a person were to close their eyes, they could not tell if they were in Provence or the North Fork Valley. That sweet, earthy odor is part of the beauty of these places.”—From An American Provence

In this poetic personal narrative, Thomas P. Huber reflects on two seemingly unrelated places—the North Fork Valley in western Colorado and the Coulon River Valley in Provence, France—and finds a shared landscape and sense of place. What began as a simple comparison of two like places in distant locations turned into a more complex, interesting, and personal task. Much is similar—the light, the valleys, the climate, the agriculture. And much is less so—the history, the geology, the physical makeup of villages. Using a geographer’s eye and passion for the land and people, Huber examines the regions’ similarities and differences to explore the common emotional impact of each region. Part intimate travelogue and part case study of geography in the real world, An American Provence illuminates the importance sense of place plays in who we are.

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American South and the Atlantic World

Brian Ward

Most of the research on the South ties the region to the North, emphasizing racial binaries and outdated geographical boundaries, but The American South and the Atlantic World seeks a larger context. Helping to define “New” Southern studies, this book?the first of its kind?explores how the cultures, contacts, and economies of the Atlantic World shaped the South.

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The American West in 2000

Essays in Honor of Gerald D. Nash

Edited by Richard W. Etulain and Ferenc M. Szasz

The ten original essays commissioned for this book focus on historical subjects in the post-World War II American West. The late Gerald Nash, in whose honor the essays were written, made major contributions to the study of modern American and western American history, and his impact on those fields is demonstrated in these essays by several generations of his students and colleagues.

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The Americanization of West Virginia

Creating a Modern Industrial State, 1916-1925

John C. Hennen

Local teachers and ministers extolling the virtues of hard work and loyalty to God and country. Veterans' groups and women's clubs promoting the military fighting radicalism, and equating business and patriotism. Industrial leaders gaining legal as well as moral influence over national domestic policy. Such scenes might seem to be lifted from a Sinclair Lewis novel or a Contract with America publicity video. But as John C. Hennen shows in this piercing analysis of early-twentieth-century American political culture, from 1916 to 1925 "Americanization" became the theme -- indeed, the script -- not only of West Virginia but of the entire nation.

Hennen's interdisciplinary work examines a formative period in West Virginia's modern history that has been largely neglected beyond the traditional focus on the coal industry. Hennen looks at education, reform, and industrial relations in the state in the context of war mobilization, postwar instability, and national economic expansion. The First World War, he says, consolidated the dominant positions of professionals, business people, and political capitalists as arbiters of national values. These leaders emerged from the war determined to make free-market business principles synonymous with patriotic citizenship. Americanization, therefore, refers less to the assimilation of immigrants into the national mainstream than to the attempt to encode values that would guarantee a literate, loyal, and obedient producing class.

To ensure that the state fulfilled its designated role as a resource zone for the perceived greater good of national strength, corporate leaders employed public relations tactics that the Wilson administration had refined to gain public support for the war. Alarmed by widespread labor activism and threatened by fears of communism, the American Constitutional Association in West Virginia, one of dozens of similar organizations nationwide, articulated principles that identified the well-being of business with the well-being of the country. With easy access to teacher training and classroom programs, antiunion forces had by 1923 rolled back the wartime gains of the United Mine Workers of America. Middle-class voluntary organizations like the American Legion and the West Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs helped implant mandated loyalty in schoolchildren.

Far from being isolated during America's transformation into a world power, West Virginia was squarely in the mainstream. The state's people and natural resources were manipulated into serving crucial functions as producers and fuel for the postwar economy. Hennen's study, therefore, is a study less of the power or force of ideas than of the importance of access to the means to transmit ideas.

The winner of the1995 Appalachian Studies Award is a significant contribution to regional studies as well as to our understanding of American culture during and after World War I.

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Among the Enemy

A Michigan Soldier’s Civil War Journal

Edited by Mark Hoffman

Though many Union soldiers wrote about their experiences in the American Civil War, few had the vantage point of William Horton Kimball, a member of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. As a military engineer, Kimball spent most of his time behind the major lines of conflict and often worked among civilians who sympathized with the enemy. In Among the Enemy: A Michigan Soldier's Civil War Journal, author Mark Hoffman presents Kimball's journal as a unique window into wartime experience. Kimball was a prolific writer, and his journal is full of detailed accounts of expeditions into a hostile countryside, the bitter war against guerillas, and of the civilians caught in the middle of a traditional war waged with nontraditional means. He comments freely and openly on the strengths and weaknesses of his officers and comrades caught up in the same war. At the same time, Kimball provides moving accounts of when the Engineers were thrown into the line of battle at Perryville and Lavergne and proved themselves as soldiers capable of traditional combat. Through Kimball's account, readers can chart the important evolution of Union war policy regarding occupied populations, as well as how the American views of warfare broke down when combat moved from battlefield to countryside and soldiers in the rear became important targets for enemy action. Civil War historian Mark Hoffman introduces Kimball's writings and provides some background on Kimball's life as a soldier. He accompanies the journal entries with illustrations and maps. Kimball's account reminds readers that there was a time when Americans who honored the same founders and national holidays were seeking to kill each other in a bitter war behind the lines of traditional armies. Readers interested in military history and the Civil War will enjoy the inside perspective of Among the Enemy.

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