United States History, Regional
Featured Items
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
Cadillac Desert
The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
Paperback      ISBN: 0140178244
"The definitive work on the West's water crisis." --Newsweek

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--an Eden that may only be a mirage.

This edition includes a new postscript by Lawrie Mott, a former staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, that updates Western water issues over the last two decades, including the long-term impact of climate change and how the region can prepare for the future.
The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City
The Mole People
Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City
Paperback      ISBN: 155652241x

Thousands of people live in the subway, railroad, and sewage tunnels that form the bowels of New York City and this book is about them, the so-called mole people. They live alone and in communities, in subway tunnels and below subway platforms and this fascinating study presents how and why people move underground, who they are, and what they have to say about their lives and the "topside" world they've left behind.

Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West
Lasso the Wind
Away to the New West
Paperback      ISBN: 067978182x

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Mountains and Plains Book Seller's Association Award

"Sprawling in scope. . . . Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully to explain and give dimension to the present." --The New York Times

"Fine reportage . . . honed and polished until it reads more like literature than journalism." --Los Angeles Times

"They have tried to tame it, shave it, fence it, cut it, dam it, drain it, nuke it, poison it, pave it, and subdivide it," writes Timothy Egan of the West; still, "this region's hold on the American character has never seemed stronger." In this colorful and revealing journey through the eleven states west of the 100th meridian, Egan, a third-generation westerner, evokes a lovely and troubled country where land is religion and the holy war between preservers and possessors never ends.

Egan leads us on an unconventional, freewheeling tour: from America's oldest continuously inhabited community, the Ancoma Pueblo in New Mexico, to the high kitsch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where London Bridge has been painstakingly rebuilt stone by stone; from the fragile beauty of Idaho's Bitterroot Range to the gross excess of Las Vegas, a city built as though in defiance of its arid environment. In a unique blend of travel writing, historical reflection, and passionate polemic, Egan has produced a moving study of the West: how it became what it is, and where it is going.

"The writing is simply wonderful. From the opening paragraph, Egan seduces the reader. . . . Entertaining, thought provoking."
--The Arizona Daily Star Weekly

"A western breeziness and love of open spaces shines through Lasso the Wind. . . . The writing is simple and evocative."
--The Economist
Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950
Cannery Women, Cannery Lives
Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950
Paperback      ISBN: 0826309887

Women have been the mainstay of the grueling, seasonal canning industry for over a century. This book is their collective biography--a history of their family and work lives, and of their union. Out of the labor militancy of the 1930s emerged the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA). Quickly it became the seventh largest CIO affiliate and a rare success story of women in unions.

Thousands of Mexican and Mexican-American women working in canneries in southern California established effective, democratic trade union locals run by local members. These rank-and-file activists skillfully managed union affairs, including negotiating such benefits as maternity leave, company-provided day care, and paid vacations--in some cases better benefits than they enjoy today. But by 1951, UCAPAWA lay in ruins--a victim of red baiting in the McCarthy era and of brutal takeover tactics by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Route 66: The Highway and Its People
Route 66
The Highway and Its People
Paperback      ISBN: 0806122919

U.S. Highway 66 was always different from other roads. During the decades it served American travelers, Route 66 became the subject of a world-famous novel, an Oscar-winning film, a hit song, and a long running television program. The 2,000 mile concrete slab also became a seven-year obsession for Susan Croce Kelly and Quinta Scott. They traveled Route 66, photographing buildings, knocking on doors, and interviewing the people who had built the buildings and run the businesses along the highway. Drawing on the oral tradition of those rural Americans who populated the edge of old Route 66, Scott and Kelly have pieced together the story of a highway that was conceived in Tulsa, Oklahoma; linked Chicago to Los Angeles; and played a role in the great social changes of the early twentieth century.

Using the words of the people themselves and documents they left behind, Kelly describes the life changes of Route 66 from the dirt-and-gravel days until the time when new technology and different life-styles decreed that it be abandoned to the small towns it had nurtured over the course of thirty years.

Scott's photographic essay shows the faces of those 66 people and gives a feeling of what can be seen along the old highway today, from the seminal highway architecture to the grainfields of the Illinois prairie, the windbent trees of western Oklahoma, the emptiness of New Mexico, and the bustling pier where the highway ends on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Route 66 uses oral history and photography as the basis for a human study of this country's most famous road. Historic times, dates, places, and events are described in the words of men and women who were there: driving the highway, cooking hamburgers, creating pottery, and pumping gas. As much as the concrete, gravel, and tar spread in a sweeping arc from Chicago to Santa Monica, those people are Route 66. Their stories and portraits are the biography of the highway.

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Dakota
A Spiritual Geography
Paperback      ISBN: 0618127240

A beautiful meditation on life in the Great Plains from award-winning author and poet Kathleen Norris.

Kathleen Norris invites readers to experience rich moments of prayer and presence in Dakota, a timeless tribute to a place in the American landscape that is at once desolate and sublime, harsh and forgiving, steeped in history and myth. In thoughtful, discerning prose, she explores how we come to inhabit the world we see, and how that world also inhabits us. Her voice is a steady assurance that we can, and do, chart our spiritual geography wherever we go.

Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia
Salvation on Sand Mountain
Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia
Paperback      ISBN: 0140254587

A journalist describes an assignment in the mountains of Alabama which led to his spiritual journey into the world of holiness snake handling, a faith whose followers characteristically place themselves in life-threatening situations. Reprint. Tour. NYT.

Blue Ribbon: A Social and Pictorial History of the State Fair
Blue Ribbon
A Social and Pictorial History of the State Fair
Paperback      ISBN: 0873512529

More than 300 black-and-white illustrations vividly portray the fair and its many faces. Historic photographs show long-gone amusements-the wooden Cannon Ball roller coaster, an organ grinder and his monkey, reenactments of famous battles at the Grandstand-as well as early versions of fair scenes that know no era: crowds, traffic jams, trinket sellers, prize winners. Reproductions of advertisements, posters, ribbons, lapel pins, and newspaper cartoons give a glimpse of the cheerful hype of promoters and the tongue-in-cheek commentary that accompanied their efforts. And contemporary photographs capture the fair's varied moods and scenes, from the early-morning preparations in a church dining hall through the stresses and joys of showing animals, the thrill of the Midway, the lure of deep-fried foods, and the excitement of being crowned a queen, to the clean-up of tons of garbage in the night's wee hours.

Along with the glitter and the fun, the Minnesota State Fair has always been a microcosm of midwestern life. Almost 150 years of cultural, social, aesthetic, economic, and technological change have left their mark on the venerable institution. And, at the same time, the fair has made its mark on society-urban as well as rural. Displays of women's work or farm machinery, the fine arts or the prize bull-all have been part of the fair's dual mission of education and entertainment. Each of Blue Ribbon's chapters focuses on one such topic, showing how the state fair grew and responded to prevailing tastes and conditions-and how it sometimes acted as a powerful agent of change.

Art and architecture, politics, social movements, and agricultural history are all part of this story-along with the dimensions of giant radishes, the memories of early fairgoers, and a listing of the calories in favorite state fair foods. Like the fair itself, this book offers something for everyone. Here are the sights, if not the smells and sounds, of "The World's Greatest State Fair."

The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Reissued Edition
The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Reissued Edition
Paperback      ISBN: 0805039392

One of America's most important writers takes on the arrest of Wayne Bertram Williams for the murder of twenty-eight black children in Atlanta to offer this searing indictment of the nation's racial stagnation.

This edition of James Baldwin's classic work offers a new foreword by Derrick Bell (with Janet Dewart Bell), and is as meaningful today as it was when it was first published in 1985.

In his searing and moving essay, James Baldwin explores the Atlanta child murders that took place over a period of twenty-two months in 1979 and 1980. Examining this incident with a reporter's skill and an essayist's insight, he notes the significance of Atlanta as the site of these brutal killings--a city that claimed to be "too busy to hate"--and the permeation of race throughout the case: the black administration in Atlanta; the murdered black children; and Wayne Williams, the black man tried for the crimes.

Rummaging through the ruins of American race relations, Baldwin addresses all the hard-to-face issues that have brought us a moment in history where it is terrifying to to be a black child in white America, and where, too often, public officials fail to ask real questions about "justice for all." Baldwin takes a time-specific event and makes it timeless: The Evidence of Things Not Seen offers an incisive look at race in America through a lens at once disturbing and profoundly revealing.

The Ice-Age History of Southwestern National Parks
The Ice-Age History of Southwestern National Parks
Paperback      ISBN: 1560986794

Recreating the past landscape and life forms of the Southwest, this guidebook examines a pivotal period in the ecological history of five southwestern national parks -- Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Big Bend -- recounting as well the coming of humans to the region and the ascendance of the ecosystems we see today.