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Alabama Fire Ant

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My War against the Nazis

A Jewish Soldier with the Red Army

Adam Broner, with a foreword by Antony Polonsky

A poignant account of the perils and fortunes of an indomitable survivor of violence in Eastern Europe during World War II.

In 1939, to escape Nazi occupation, 14-year-old Adam Broner and his older brother Sam left their home and family in Lodz, Poland, and made their way to the Soviet Union. Adam enlisted in the Red Army to join the fight against the Nazis but was sent to work in a Siberian coal mine instead when his nationality was discovered. After a bold and daring escape from Siberia, Broner reached the Soviet Polish Kosciuszko Army, joined the struggle against the Nazis, participated in the liberation of Poland, and rode victorious into Berlin in 1945. He later learned that his parents, siblings (except Sam), and all other close relatives had perished during the war. 


 Broner rebuilt his life, established a family, returned to Moscow for a degree in economics, and then went back to Poland, where he accepted a job in the Polish central planning agency. Eventually fed up with the growing anti-Semitism of the Communist government there, the author emigrated to the United States in 1969. He earned a doctorate from Princeton University and served as an economic adviser to New Jersey governors and the state legislature. In retirement, Broner learned portrait painting and reproduced the likenesses of his parents and siblings from memory, which are presented along with their biographies in this book.

In recounting his struggle for survival during some of the most dramatic upheavals of the 20th century— the Great Depression, Nazism, World War II, and the spread of Communism in Central Europe— Broner reveals a life dedicated to the ultimate goal of freedom, which he achieved through a combination of arduous effort and fortunate circumstance.

 

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Nancy Batson Crews

Alabama's First Lady of Flight

A riveting oral history/biography of a pioneering woman aviator.

This is the story of an uncommon woman--high school cheerleader, campus queen, airplane pilot, wife, mother, politician, business-woman--who epitomizes the struggles and freedoms of women in 20th-century America, as they first began to believe they could live full lives and demanded to do so. World War II offered women the opportunity to contribute to the work of the country, and Nancy Batson Crews was one woman who made the most of her privileged beginnings and youthful talents and opportunities.

In love with flying from the time she first saw Charles Lindbergh in Birmingham, (October 1927), Crews began her aviation career in 1939 as one of only five young women chosen for Civilian Pilot Training at the University of Alabama. Later, Crews became the 20th woman of 28 to qualify as an "Original" Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) pilot, employed during World War II shuttling P-38, P-47, and P-51 high-performance aircrafts from factory to staging areas and to and from maintenance and training sites. Before the war was over, 1,102 American women would qualify to fly Army airplanes. Many of these female pilots were forced out of aviation after the war as males returning from combat theater assignments took over their roles. But Crews continued to fly, from gliders to turbojets to J-3 Cubs, in a postwar career that began in California and then resumed in Alabama.

The author was a freelance journalist looking to write about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) when she met an elderly, but still vital, Nancy Batson Crews. The former aviatrix held a reunion of the surviving nine WAFS for an interview with them and Crews, recording hours of her own testimony and remembrance before Crews's death from cancer in 2001. After helping lead the fight in the '70s for WASP to win veteran status, it was fitting that Nancy Batson Crews was buried with full military honors.

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Night Riders of Reelfoot Lake

A notable and tragic case of the struggle between legal and social justice. 

Reelfoot Lake has been a hunting and fishing paradise from the time of its creation in 1812, when the New Madrid earthquake caused the Mississippi River to flow backward into low-lying lands. Situated in the northwestern corner of the state of Tennessee, it attracted westward-moving pioneers, enticing some to settle permanently on its shores.

Threatened in 1908 with the loss of their homes and livelihoods to aggressive, outsider capitalists, rural folk whose families had lived for generations on the bountiful lake donned hoods and gowns and engaged in “night riding,” spreading mayhem and death throughout the region as they sought vigilante justice. They had come to regard the lake as their own, by “squatters' rights,” but now a group of entrepreneurs from St. Louis had bought the titles to the land beneath the shallow lake and were laying legal claim to Reelfoot in its entirety. People were hanged, beaten, and threatened and property destroyed before the state militia finally quelled the uprising. A compromise that made the lake public property did not entirely heal the wounds which continue to this day.
 

Paul Vanderwood reconstructs these harrowing events from newspapers and other accounts of the time. He also obtained personal interviews with participants and family members who earlier had remained mum, still fearing prosecution. The Journal of American History declares his book “the complete and authentic treatment” of the horrific dispute and its troubled aftermath.
 





 

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Ninety-Nine Iron

The Season Sewanee Won Five Games in Six Days

The fascinating story of a remarkable, unassailable winning streak.

 Ninety-Nine Iron is the story of the 1899 Sewanee football team. The University of the South, as it is formally called, is a small Episcopal college on Mounteagle Mountain in southeastern Tennessee. It is a respected academic institution not known for its athletic programs. But in that final year of the 19th century the Sewanee football team, led by captain "Diddy" Seibels, produced a record that is legendary.

 In six days, on a grueling 2,500-mile train trip, the team defeated Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, Louisiana State University, and Ole Miss--all much larger schools than Sewanee. In addition to this marathon of victory, the 21 members of the Sewanee Iron Men won all 12 of their regular games, and of their 12 opponents, only Auburn managed to score at all against them. Ten of these 12 victories were against Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponents, which put Sewanee in the record books for most conference games played and most won in a season.

 In Ninety-Nine Iron, Wendell Givens provides a play-by-play account of that remarkable season. He includes an overview of campus life at Sewanee and profiles of the players, the team's coach (Billy Suter), the manager (Luke Lea), and the trainer (Cal Burrows). In the five years he researched the work, Givens conducted interviews with Seibels and visited the five cities in which the Iron Men had played--Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Memphis. Givens has written a vivid account of a sports achievement not likely to be seen again.


 

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Old Mobile Archaeology

Written by Gregory A. Waselkov

An archaeological guide to the earliest French settlement on the northern Gulf Coast. Archaeological excavations since 1989 have uncovered exciting evidence of the original townsite of Mobile, first capital of the Louisiana colony, and remnants of the colony's port on Dauphin Island.



 

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On the Trail of the Maya Explorer

Tracing the Epic Journey of John Lloyd Stephens

Written by Steve Glassman

A Mesoamerican travel book from two perspectives and two centuries.

In 1839 John Lloyd Stephens, then 31 years old, and his traveling companion, artist Frederick Catherwood, disappeared into the vast rain forest of eastern Guatemala. They had heard rumors that remains of a civilization of incomparable artistic and cultural merit were moldering in the steamy lowland jungles. They braved Indian uprisings, road agents, heat, and biting insects to eventually encounter what is today known as the lost civilization of the Maya.

In 1841 Stephens published Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan to instant acclaim with both American and international audiences. His conversational style was fresh and crisp and his subject matter, the search for lost cities on the Central American isthmus, was romantic and adventurous. Stephens's book has been characterized as the "great American nonfiction narrative of the 19th century." Indeed, what Stephens wrote about the Maya makes a major contribution to Maya studies.

Steve Glassman retraces Stephens's route, visiting the same archaeological sites, towns, markets, and churches and meeting along the way the descendants of those people Stephens described, from mestizo en route to the cornfields to town elders welcoming the Norte Americanos. Glassman's work interlaces discussion of the history, natural environment, and architecture of the region with descriptions of the people who live and work there. Glassman compares his 20th-century experience with Stephens's 19th-century exploration, gazing in awe at the same monumental pyramids, eating similar foods, and avoiding the political clashes that disrupt the governments and economies of the area.

Stephens's books are still widely available, but his importance to literary professionals has been overlooked. With this new travelogue, Glassman reaffirms Stephens's reputation and brings his work to wider critical and public attention.

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Osceola's Legacy

Patricia Riles Wickman

A bestselling, up-to-date evaluation of a legendary Indian leader. Named Outstanding Book by the Gustavus Myers Center for the  Study of Human Rights. "Osceola's Legacy is significant for its geneology and archaeological study of this Native American and his interaction with the federal government during the 1800s. The catalog of photographs of Osceola portraits and his personal possessions makes this a worthwhile reference book as well." --Georgia Historical Quarterly

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Outpost Kelly

A Tanker's Story

Written by Jack R. Siewert and foreword by Paul M Edwards

In the second year of the Korean War, Jack Siewert commanded a platoon of five M-46 tanks. Temporarily assigned to provide fire support for an infantry battalion on the front, he eventually found himself in the midst of intense fighting for a relatively unknown and unimportant hill, code named Outpost Kelly.
 
Those four days of battle against Chinese forces form the heart of this memoir, which is unique in its focus on the hill fighting that dominated two thirds of the Korean War. Trained to take advantage of his tanks’ mobility, his orders—to provide direct fire support for advancing infantry—along with the mountainous terrain and the torrential monsoon rains that created shin-deep fields of impenetrable mud, forced him to abandon doctrine and improvise.
 
At the height of the fighting, Siewert was able to bring to bear the guns from only one of his five tanks against the enemy. Nevertheless, his platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation.
 
Siewert's platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation. Outpost Kelly also paints a fascinating picture of the type of fighting, often overlooked, that characterized the second and third years of the Korean War. With truce talks proceeding in Panmunjom, both sides fought to claim incremental pieces of real estate along the demarcation line between North and South.
 
In the grand scheme of the war, the battle for Outpost Kelly might not ahce meant much. But for 3rd Infantry Division, and the men, like Jack Siewert, who fought there, it was the entire focal point of the war during the last four days of July, 1952.
 

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The Packhorseman

In April 1735, twenty-year-old William MacGregor, possessing little more than a bottle of Scotch whiskey and a set of Shakespeare’s plays, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, to make his fortune in the New World. The Scottish Highlands, while dear to his heart, were in steep economic decline and hopelessly entangled in dangerous political intrigue. With an uncle in Carolina, the long ocean voyage seemed his best chance for a new start. He soon discovers that the Jacobite politics of Scotland extend to Carolina, and when his mouth gets him in trouble with the Charles Town locals, dimming his employment opportunities, he seizes the one option still open for him and takes a job as a frontier packhorseman.
 
Soon young MacGregor is on the Cherokee trail to Indian country, where he settles in as a novice in the deerskin trade. Along the way William learns not only the arts of managing a pack train and trading with the Indians, but of reading the land and negotiating cultural differences with the Cherokee—whose clan system is much different from the Scottish clans of his homeland. William also learns that the Scottish enlightenment he so admires has not made much headway in the Carolina backcountry, where the real challenges are to survive, day to day, during the tense times after the Yamasee War and to remember that while in Indian country . . . it is their country.
 
A scholar of the native Southeast, Charles Hudson has turned his hand to this work of historical fiction, bringing to life the packhorsemen, Indian traders, and southeastern Indians of the early 18th-century Carolina. With a comfortable and engaging style, Hudson peoples the Carolina frontier with believable characters, all caught up in a life and time that is historically well-documented but little-known to modern popular readers.

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Pushmataha

A Choctaw Leader and His People

Written by Gideon Lincecum and with introdution by Greg O'Brien

Valuable, original, and difficult-to-find resources on Choctaw history and culture.

This important book comprises two articles that appeared in the 1904 and 1906 volumes of Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society. In "Life of Apushimataha," Gideon Lincecum tells the story of Choctaw chief Pushmataha, who was born in Mississippi in 1764. A fearless warrior, his name literally means "one whose tomahawk is fatal in war or hunting." As a charismatic leader, his foresight in making an alliance with General Andrew Jackson brought the Choctaws into war with the Creek Nation and into the War of 1812 but served to their benefit for many years with the United States government. In 1824, Pushmataha traveled to Washington, D.C., to negotiate the Treaty of Doak's Stand as pressure grew for Choctaw removal to Oklahoma Territory, but he fell ill and died there. He was buried with full military honors in the Congressional Cemetery at Arlington.

In "Choctaw Traditions about Their Settlement in Mississippi and the Origin of Their Mounds," Lincecum translates a portion of the Skukhaanumpula—the traditional history of the tribe, which was related to him verbally by Chata Immataha, "the oldest man in the world, a man that knew everything." It explains how and why the sacred Nanih Waya mound was erected and how the Choctaws formed new towns, and it describes the structure of leadership roles in their society.

 

 

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