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Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace Across America
On March 31, 1929, seventy-seven men began an epic 3,554-mile footrace across America that pushed their bodies to the breaking point. Nicknamed the “Bunion Derby” by the press, this was the second and last of two trans-America footraces held in the late 1920s. The men averaged forty-six gut-busting miles a day during seventy-eight days of nonstop racing that took them from New York City to Los Angeles. Among this group, two brilliant runners, Johnny Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, and Pete Gavuzzi of England, emerged to battle for the $25,000 first prize along the mostly unpaved roads of 1929 America, with each man pushing the other to go faster as the lead switched back and forth between them. To pay the prize money, race director Charley Pyle cobbled together a traveling vaudeville company, complete with dancing debutantes, an all-girl band wearing pilot outfits, and blackface comedians, all housed under the massive show tent that Pyle hoped would pack in audiences. Kastner’s engrossing account, often told from the perspective of the participants, evokes the remarkable physical challenge the runners experienced and clearly bolsters the argument that the last Bunion Derby was the greatest long-distance footrace of all time.
Classical Arabic Poetry
Abundance from the Desert provides a comprehensive introduction to classical Arabic poetry, one of the richest of poetic traditions. Covering the period roughly of 500–1250 c.e., it features original translations and illuminating discussions of a number of major classical Arabic poems from a variety of genres. The poems are presented chronologically, each situated within a specific historical and literary context. Together, the selected poems suggest the range and depth of classical Arabic poetic expression; read in sequence, they suggest the gradual evolution of a tradition.
World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors
In the mid- to late 1940s, a group of young men rattled the psychiatric establishment by beaming a public spotlight on the squalid conditions and brutality in our nation’s mental hospitals and training schools for people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities. Bringing the abuses to the attention of newspapers and magazines across the country, they led a reform effort to change public attitudes and to improve the training and status of institutional staff. Prominent Americans, including Eleanor Roosevelt, ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, author Pearl S. Buck, actress Helen Hayes, and African-American activist Mary McLeod Bethune, supported the efforts of the young men. These young men were among the 12,000 World War II conscientious objectors who chose to perform civilian public service as an alternative to fighting in what is widely regarded as America’s "good war." Three thousand of these men volunteered to work at state institutions, where they found conditions appalling. Acting on conscience a second time, they challenged America’s treatment of its citizens with severe disabilities. Acts of Conscience brings to light the extraordinary efforts of these courageous men, drawing upon extensive archival research, interviews, and personal correspondence. The World War II conscientious objectors were not the first to expose public institutions, and they would not be the last. What distinguishes them from reformers of other eras is that their activities have faded from professional and popular memory. Steven J. Taylor’s moving account is an indispensable contribution to the historical record.
The Vision of Mac Conglinne
Aislinge Meic Conglinne, an anonymous Middle Irish romance, recounts the efforts of the eponymous hero to exchange the hardscrabble life of a clerical scholar for the prestigious life of a poet. Mac Conglinne wins the patronage of Cathal mac Finguine, the king of Munster, after rescuing him from a "demon of gluttony" by reciting a fantastic, food-laden vision of alternate worlds. An accomplished and original eleventh-century satiric narrative poem, Aislinge Meic Conglinne is now available for the first time as a stand-alone translation.
The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock of the 188th New York Volunteers
“Allegany to Appomattox” describes the environment, enlistment and political atmosphere that resulted in the Civil War from the perspective of one farmer, William Whitlock who at the age of thirty five left his family for service to the Union. He wrote at least forty letter home to his wife and family. These unpublished letters serve as the foundation of the book.
Allegiance and Betrayal” is comprised of a dozen short stories, all dealing with family in one way or another. The stories are set in New England and the South, including specific locations such as Connecticut and coastal North Carolina. Makuck writes about an offshore fishing trip to settle old scores, a scuba diving experience that rescues a friendship, a family reunion that turns ugly on the subject of religion, a widower trying to survive, and a house painter discovering a need to deal with chronic anger, amongst others. Makuck examines the conflicts of human nature, and the universality and significance of familial relationships. His stories uncover cultural and psychological distances between people, distances that remain present despite society’s technologically-fused attempts at closing these gaps.
America in the Forties is a readable and concise narrative that tells the story of the forties in the United States. The book argues that the forties were an important period in American life, shaped by charismatic, brilliant, and sometimes controversial leaders. It traces the entire decade from the first stirrings of war in a nation consumed by the Great Depression to fights with Europe and Japan and through the start of the Cold War and the dawn of the atomic age.
Greene sketches the well-known players of the period—John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Betty Friedan—bringing each to life with subtle detail. He introduces the reader to lesser-known incidents of the decade and offers fresh and persuasive insights on many of its watershed events. Greene argues that the civil rights movement began in 1955 following the death of Emmett Till; that many accomplishments credited to Kennedy were based upon myth, not historical fact, and that his presidency was far from successful; that each of the movements of the period—civil rights, students, antiwar, ethnic nationalism—were started by young intellectuals and eventually driven to failure by activists who had different goals in mind; and that the "counterculture," which has been glorified in today’s media as a band of rock-singing hippies, had its roots in some of the most provocative social thinking of the postwar period. Greene chronicles the decade in a thematic manner, devoting individual chapters to such subjects as the legacy of the fifties, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the civil rights movements, and the war in Vietnam. Combining an engrossing narrative with intelligent analysis, America in the Sixties enriches our understanding of that pivotal era.
As the newest addition to the America in the Twentieth Century series, this book explores the complexity of America in what is considered its darkest era of the century. The decade stood in stark contrast to the carefree, happy-go-lucky days of the Roaring Twenties when prosperity appeared endless. The Stock Market Crash in October 1929 and the economic collapse it unleashed threatened the very foundations of America’s economic, political, and social institutions. The ecological disaster produced by the Dust Bowl ravaging the Great Plains only added to the suffering and misery. Yet the decade was not just one mired in complete disorder. The 1930s were also a vibrant period of innovation, transformation, and in some cases, even optimism. Politics, beginning with Herbert Hoover and continuing with Franklin Roosevelt, underwent a fundamental transformation, ushering in an activist state and firmly establishing the idea that through prudent federal policies, it was not only possible to orchestrate an economic recovery but also to prevent future economic downturns. Workers, African Americans, ethnic Americans, and women responded to the era’s challenges through their newfound political voice in Roosevelt’s New Deal and through the institutions and communities they created to alleviate their suffering. Culturally, the 1930s also proved to be a boon to America, ushering in the Golden Age of Hollywood as millions of Americans looked to movies as a momentary refuge from their daily plight. For all the hardship and despair of the 1930s, there was also a vitality that defined the decade.
A Cultural History
There is no better way to understand America than by understanding the cultural history of the American Dream. Rather than just a powerful philosophy or ideology, the Dream is thoroughly woven into the fabric of everyday life, playing a vital role in who we are, what we do, and why we do it. No other idea or mythology has as much influence on our individual and collective lives. Tracing the history of the phrase in popular culture, Samuel gives readers a field guide to the evolution of our national identity over the last eighty years. Samuel tells the story chronologically, revealing that there have been six major eras of the mythology since the phrase was coined in 1931. Relying mainly on period magazines and newspapers as his primary source material, the author demonstrates that journalists serving on the front lines of the scene represent our most valuable resource to recover unfiltered stories of the Dream. The problem, however, is that it does not exist, the Dream is just that, a product of our imagination. That it is not real ultimately turns out to be the most significant finding about the American Drea, and what makes the story most compelling.