What is it about Minnesota? It is the land of Ventura and of Keillor, a state with both America's most visited wilderness area and the nation's largest shopping mall, and a state with a population equally divided between the metropolitan and the rural. Considering these apparent dichotomies, why has the state emerged as a cultural symbol of a distinct and perhaps lost America? Does this symbol even reflect reality? Thirteen perceptive essays by keen observers explore the past, present, and possible future of a place that is full of contradictions yet unified in its exceptionalism.
How is it that a state widely regarded for its enlightened and progressive political tradition would elect a former professional wrestler as its governor? How is it that a place where the most significant cultural divide was once between Lutheran and Catholic is now the home of 15,000 Somalis and 50,000 Hmong? Why is it that this state in the middle of America has a strong awareness of, and a tradition of involvement in, international aVairs? Why do Minnesota corporations have such a strong tradition of philanthropy--and what will become of this tradition as more of them are engulfed by national and multinational mergers?
Minnesota, Real & Imagined, which originated as a special issue of Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, examines the real and mythical Minnesota in perceptive and engaging ways. After reading these essays, you'll never see Minnesota the same way again.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner tells about a thousand-mile migration marked by hardship and sudden death-but unique in American history for its purpose, discipline, and solidarity. Other Bison Books by Wallace Stegner include Mormon Country, Recapitulation, Second Growth, and Women on the Wall.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEDrawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, this intimate history illuminates the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier. Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and reticent Martha Ballard but of her society. At once lively and impeccably scholarly, A Midwife's Tale is a triumph of history on a human scale.
The discovery of the fascinating and richly documented story of Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God, by Judith C. Brown was an event of major historical importance. Not only is the story revealed in Immodest Acts that of the rise and fall of a powerful woman in a church community and a record of the life of a religious visionary, it is also the earliest documentation of lesbianism in modern Western history.
Born of well-to-do parents, Benedetta Carlini entered the convent at the age of nine. At twenty-three, she began to have visions of both a religious and erotic nature. Benedetta was elected abbess due largely to these visions, but later aroused suspicions by claiming to have had supernatural contacts with Christ. During the course of an investigation, church authorities not only found that she had faked her visions and stigmata, but uncovered evidence of a lesbian affair with another nun, Bartolomeo. The story of the relationship between the two nuns and of Benedetta's fall from an abbess to an outcast is revealed in surprisingly candid archival documents and retold here with a fine sense of drama.
John Quincy Adams was raised, educated, and groomed to be President, following in the footsteps of his father, John. At fourteen he was secretary to the Minister to Russia and, later, was himself Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia. He was U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and then President for one ill-fated term. His private life showed a parallel descent. He was a poet, writer, critic, and Professor of Oratory at Harvard. He married a talented and engaging Southerner, but two of his three sons were disappointments. This polymath and troubled man, caught up in both a democratic age not to his understanding and the furies of passion, was an American lion in winter.
In 1836, the murder of a young prostitute made headlines in New York City and around the country, inaugurating a sex-and-death sensationalism in news reporting that haunts us today. Patricia Cline Cohen goes behind these first lurid accounts to reconstruct the story of the mysterious victim, Helen Jewett.From her beginnings as a servant girl in Maine, Helen Jewett refashioned herself, using four successive aliases, into a highly paid courtesan. She invented life stories for herself that helped her build a sympathetic clientele among New York City's elite, and she further captivated her customers through her seductive letters, which mixed elements of traditional feminine demureness with sexual boldness. But she was to meet her match--and her nemesis--in a youth called Richard Robinson. He was one of an unprecedented number of young men who flooded into America's burgeoning cities in the 1830s to satisfy the new business society's seemingly infinite need for clerks. The son of an established Connecticut family, he was intense, arrogant, and given to posturing. He became Helen Jewett's lover in a tempestuous affair and ten months later was arrested for her murder. He stood trial in a five-day courtroom drama that ended with his acquittal amid the cheers of hundreds of fellow clerks and other spectators. With no conviction for murder, nor closure of any sort, the case continued to tantalize the public, even though Richard Robinson disappeared from view. Through the Erie Canal, down the Ohio and the Mississippi, and by way of New Orleans, he reached the wilds of Texas and a new life under a new name. Through her meticulous and ingenious research, Patricia Cline Cohen traces his life there and the many twists and turns of the lingering mystery of the murder. Her stunning portrayals of Helen Jewett, Robinson, and their raffish, colorful nineteenth-century world make vivid a frenetic city life and sexual morality whose complexities, contradictions, and concerns resonate with those of our own time.
The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.
Enriched by the wealth of new research into women's history, No Small Courage offers a lively chronicle of American experience, charting women's lives and experiences with fascinating immediacy from the precolonial era to the present. Individual stories and primary sources-including letters, diaries, and news reports-animate this history of the domestic, professional, and political efforts of American women.John Demos begins the book with a discussion of Native American women confronting colonization. Leading historians illuminate subsequent eras of social and political change-including Jane Kamensky on women's lives in the colonial period, Karen Manners Smith on the rising tide of political activity by women in the Progressive Era, Sarah Jane Deutsch on the transition of 1920s optimism to the harsh realities of the Great Depression, Elaine Tyler May on the challenges to a gender-defined social order encouraged by World War II, and William H. Chafe on the women's movement and the struggle for political equality since the 1960s. The authors vividly relate such events as Anne Hutchinson's struggle for religious expression in Puritan Massachusetts, former slave Harriet Tubman's perilous efforts to free others in captivity, Rosa Parks's resistance to segregation in the South, and newfound opportunities for professional and personal self-determination available as a result of decades of protest. Dozens of archival illustrations add to the human dimensions of the authoritative text. No Small Courage dynamically captures the variety and significance of American women's experience, demonstrating that the history of our nation cannot be fully understood without focusing on changes in women's lives.
In a brilliant collaboration between writer and subject, the bestselling author of Home and City Life illuminates Frederick Law Olmsted's role as a major cultural figure and a man at the epicenter of nineteenth-century American history.
We know Olmsted through the physical legacy of his stunning landscapes -- among them, New York's Central Park, California's Stanford University campus, Boston's Back Bay Fens, Illinois's Riverside community, Asheville's Biltmore Estate, and Louisville's park system. He was a landscape architect before that profession was founded, designed the first large suburban community in the United States, foresaw the need for national parks, and devised one of the country's first regional plans.
Olmsted's contemporaries knew a man of even more extraordinarily diverse talents. Born in 1822, he traveled to China on a merchant ship at the age of twenty-one. He cofounded The Nation magazine and was an early voice against slavery. He wrote books about the South and about his exploration of the Texas frontier. He managed California's largest gold mine and, during the Civil War, served as general secretary to the United States Sanitary Commission, the precursor of the Red Cross.
Olmsted was both ruthlessly pragmatic and a visionary. To create Central Park, he managed thousands of employees who moved millions of cubic yards of stone and earth and planted over 300,000 trees and shrubs. In laying it out, "we determined to think of no results to be realized in less than forty years," he told his son, Rick. "I have all my life been considering distant effects and always sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future." To this day, Olmsted's ideas about people, nature, and society are expressed across the nation -- above all, in his parks, so essential to the civilized life of our cities.
Rybczynski's passion for his subject and his understanding of Olmsted's immense complexity and accomplishments make this book a triumphant work. In A Clearing in the Distance, the story of a great nineteenth-century American becomes an intellectual adventure.