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The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota
Soldiers in the Union Army volunteered for many reasons—to reunite the country, to put down the southern rebellion. For most, however, slavery was a peripheral issue. Sympathy for slaves often came only after the soldiers actually witnessed their plight. In November 1863, thirty-eight men of the Minnesota Ninth Regiment responded to a fugitive slave’s desperate plea by holding a train at gunpoint and liberating his wife, five children, and three other family members who were being shipped off to be sold. But this rescue happened in Missouri, where Union soldiers had firm orders not to interfere with loyal slaveholders. Charged with mutiny, the Minnesotans were confined for two months without being tried. Their case was even debated in the U.S. Senate. This remarkable and unprecedented incident remains virtually unknown today. One Drop in a Sea of Blue is the story of these thirty-eight liberators and of the Ninth Minnesota through the entire Civil War. After a humiliating defeat at Brice’s crossroads, Mississippi, many were held at Andersonville and other notorious confederate prisons, where the Ninth Minnesota as a whole suffered a death rate exceeding 60 percent. Yet the regiment also helped destroy the confederate army of Tennessee at Nashville and capture mobile. In August 1865, when the Ninth Minnesota was mustered out, only fourteen liberators stood in its ranks. With vital details won through assiduous research, John Lundstrom uncovers the true stories of ordinary men who lived and died in extraordinary times.
The First Minnesota at Gettysburg
The smoke had just cleared from the last volley of musketry at Gettysburg. Nearly 70 percent of the First Minnesota regiment lay dead or dying on the field--one of the greatest losses of any unit engaged in the Civil War. Pale Horse at Plum Run is the study of this single regiment at this crucial moment in American history. Through painstaking research of firsthand accounts, eyewitness reports, and official records, Brian Leehan constructs a narrative remarkable for its attention to detail and careful reportage.Word of the First's heroic act at Gettysburg quickly spread along Union lines and back to Minnesota. Their stand late on July 2, 1863, stopped a furious rebel assault and saved the day for the Union. Emerging from the chaos of battle, however, firsthand reports contradicted each other. Confused officers and frightened soldiers told very different stories of the day's hearsay and camp gossip for their sources of information. All of this leaves the historical investigator to ask, what really happened that day at Plum Run?In order to answer that question, Leehan performs superlative historical detective work. By focusing on the men themselves--and their accounts of the engagement--he weaves together a narrative of the First's action on July 2 and 3. Those who escaped the scythe of battle the first day lived to play a pivotal role the next in rebuffing the most famous infantry assault in American military history, Pickett's Charge. By tracking the movements of individual soldiers over the field of battle, Leehan reconstructs in amazing detail the story of this remarkable band of soldiers. In his investigation of the battle Leehan raises important questions about how we can really know the truth about the past. In cogent appended essays, the author muses on the lack of standardized timekeeping in the mid-nineteenth century, on the nature of Civil War weaponry, and on the emergence of a heroic mythology after the war.
The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Early Minnesota
In the 1850s, as Minnesota Territory was reaching toward statehood, settlers from the eastern United States moved in, carrying rigid perceptions of race and culture into a community built by people of many backgrounds who relied on each other for survival. History professor William Green unearths the untold stories of African Americans and contrasts their experiences with those of Indians, mixed bloods, and Irish Catholics. He demonstrates how a government built on the ideals of liberty and equality denied the rights to vote, run for office, and serve on a jury to free men fully engaged in the lives of their respective communities.
Over the centuries, the Hmong have called many places home, including China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and most recently France, Australia, and the United States. Their new neighbors, though welcoming, may know little about how they have come to these places or their views on relationships, religion, or art. Now, in A Peopls's History of the Hmong, representative voices offer their community's story, spanning four thousand years to the present day."This was the life of our Hmong people," remembers Pa Seng Thao, one of many who describe farming villages in the mountains of Laos. Others help us understand the Hmong experience during the Vietnam War, particularly when the U.S. military pulled out of Laos, abandoning thousands of Hmong allies. Readers learn firsthand of the hardships of refugee camps and the challenges of making a home in a foreign country, with a new language and customs. Drawing on more than two hundred interviews, historian Paul Hillmer assembles a compelling history in the words of the people who lived it.
A Nurse at Abu Ghraib
On a frigid afternoon in February 2003, Deanna Germain, a nurse practitioner and new grandmother living in Blaine, Minnesota, received the registered letter she had hoped would never arrive. In six days she was to report for active duty as war loomed in Iraq. The purpose of mobilization: “For Enduring Freedom.”With startling detail, Lt. Col. Germain offers a clear-eyed account of life as a nursing supervisor behind the fortified gates of Abu Ghraib. Her duty: To treat Iraqi prisoners, U.S. soldiers, and Marines in need of medical attention. Shortly after she arrived, the notorious prison made headlines around the world for abuses that had stopped months before. Despite unbearable heat, frequent mortar attacks, medical supply shortages, substandard facilities, the relentless stench of war, and sleepless nights quartered in a tiny prison cell, Germain served the medical needs of each of her patients with remarkable humanity. In this crucible of wartime stress, workplace turmoil, and cultural uncertainty, Germain found herself forging powerful connections with colleagues and translators. She learned from translators about normal Iraqi families struggling to survive impossible conditions. And after vowing to avoid personal relationships with prisoners, she became a comfort to many. Duty and compassion, camaraderie and hope all helped to pull her through.
Having fled his family’s farm at eighteen with a promise never to return, Guy Pehrsson is drawn back into his past when he receives his grandfather’s ominous letter, “Trouble here. Come home when you can.” He returns to discover a place both wholly familiar and barely recognizable and is cast into the center of an interracial land dispute with the exigencies of war.Widely acclaimed when first published in the eighties, the timeless novel Red Earth, White Earth showcases Will Weaver’s rough ease with language and storytelling, frankly depicting life’s uneven terrain and crooked paths.
The Anatomy of a Flood and the Survival of an American City
On April 19, 1997, in one of the most dramatic floods in U.S. history, more than 50,000 people abandoned their homes and businesses in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A nation watched as the heart of downtown, engulfed by a river, burst into flames above the water line. Like Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, Red River Rising is a compelling true-life narrative about the confluence of natural forces and human error that shaped one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history.Ashley Shelby tells the dramatic stories of the flood: the suspenseful, blizzard-filled spring; the difficulties scientists had in predicting the river's crest; the struggles of people who fought the rising waters and of those who marshalled the city's forces. Despite technological advances in meteorology, despite the brute force of hundreds of earth movers, despite the utter determination of thousands who built and walked the levees, the river won.This book is a gripping story of the terrific cost of natural disasters and a fascinating portrait of how ordinary people rose to an extraordinary challenge. It is also a clear-eyed examination of the disastrous aftermath: the second-guessing and blame directed at the National Weather Service, at city and federal officials, and at the people of Grand Forks themselves as they struggled to rebuild. With empathy and penetrating intelligence, Shelby uncovers the conflicts, conspiracy theories, and recrimination that tore at the community after the waters fell. Through the powerful stories of memorable individuals Red River Rising gives us new perspective on disaster and community.Praise for Red River Rising“Red River Rising is a beautifully written, haunting saga of a community in distress. Although the touchstone of this narrative is April 19, 1997, when one of the worst floods in U.S. history occurred, in truth it's a gripping human drama with timeless appeal. Words cannot fully express the admiration I have for Ashley Shelby's seamless and compassionate prose-style.” — Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War and director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans.
Folk Medicine in Norway and the New Land
To cure a fever that begins with chills, write the following on a piece of bread and give it to the patient for eight days, one piece each day, and on the ninth day, burn the last piece: Colameris x, Colameri x, Colamer x, Colame x, Colam x, Cola x, Col x, Co x, and C x. To prevent the huldrefolk from stealing your healthy child and leaving a child with rickets in its place, make three dolls from the child’s clothing to put into the cradle. The huldrefolk will take one of them instead of your child. These and many more fascinating folk-healing rituals were secretly administered by healers, “witches,” and religious caregivers who tended the medical and spiritual needs of rural Norwegians for hundreds of years. In Remedies and Rituals, Kathleen Stokker culls from hundreds of original documents and first-hand accounts to detail the ingredients, customs, and histories behind natural remedies, potions, whispered spells, and the infamous “black books” used for centuries by Norway’s folk healers. Stokker also illuminates the surprising personalities of those who risked imprisonment and persecution to help fellow Norwegians throughout the nineteenth century, as well as the often reluctant healers in the U.S. who continued to treat immigrants living in rural communities beyond the reach of doctors. Dodging harsh criminal laws championed by formally trained doctors, these rebel practitioners drew on ancient written and oral sources to treat everything from burns, broken bones, and whooping cough to difficult labors and emotional stress.
Minnesota's Greatest Generation
World War II was the defining event for a generation of Americans. Remembering the Good War tells the stories of over one hundred Minnesotans—ordinary people who rose to duty at an extraordinary moment in our past. Here soldiers and sailors, housewives and farmers, “Rosies” and “Joes” tell what it was like to be swept up in history.Betty Wall Strofus of Faribault recalls how she discovered a love for flying and joined the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program to serve stateside during the war. Lyle Pasket of St. Paul marvels that he was only seventeen when his cruiser, the USS Indianapolis, was torpedoed en route to the Philippines. After three days without food or drink in shark-infested waters, he was one of only 317 sailors rescued. Paratrooper Frank Soboleski of International Falls recounts how he depended on north woods hunting skills to keep himself alive during battle in the Netherlands. Schoolteacher Vivian Linn McMorrow remembers with quiet intensity the brief time she shared with her husband Ralph Gland, who was killed in France during the second year of their marriage.From the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the excitement of recruits leaving the farm for the first time to the horrors of the battlefields of Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, Remembering the Good War pays homage to the generation of Minnesotans who were forever transformed by World War II. Their voices—honest, emotional, and resolute—remind us of a time of sacrifice and courage.
Women Write About Their Mothers
A group of America’s celebrated literary women have come together to tackle a topic close to their hearts: Mom. These highly personal yet often universal stories offer windows into those influential mother-daughter moments that have forever shaped the lives and perspectives of the writers, powerful women—authors, spokespeople, scholars, teachers, and some mothers themselves. Jonis Agee’s mother haunts her daughter’s plumbing. Tai Coleman’s mother struggled to raise five children on her own wits and a single pay check. Heid Erdrich’s mother showed her daughter both the falsity and the truth in the cliché of the “Indian Princess.” Sheila O’Connor’s mother, who ran a road construction company, was not like other mothers. Ka Vang’s mother dodged the hand grenades that her husband’s first wife threw on her wedding day. Morgan Grayce Willow’s mother drove home late at night after selling cosmetics to farm wives as her daughter rode shotgun. In true tales of startling candor and rich insight, these and many other talented writers reflect on the women who raised them, revealing hard work and hardship, successes and failures, love and anger—mothers and daughters. Contributors: Jonis Agee, Elizabeth Jarret Andrew, Sandra Benitez, Barrie Jean Borich, Taiyon Coleman, Heid Erdrich, Diane Glancy, Jan Zita Grover, Denise Low, Alison McGhee, Sheila O'Connor, Shannon Olson, Carrie Pomeroy, Susan Power, Sun Yung Shin, Faith Sullivan, Ann Ursu, Wang Ping, Susan Steger Welsh, Morgan Grayce Willow.