Through the Eyes of Vietnam Veterans

Source: Library of Congress, Carol M. Highsmith

Years ago, a Vietnam veteran I knew was asked how long he served in Vietnam. Instead of estimating in weeks or months, he rattled off the precise number of days. I was struck by the intensity of his response—as if the experience remained close to his thoughts—and it inspired me to learn more about the […]

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Firestarters

Firestarters

Politicians, activists, blowhards, pundits, loudmouths and the like all pretend to think they're on the vanguard of a glorious revolution. One quick dip into history proves it's all been done before. Just when you think you've been inspired, you hear about someone who was led by the messages of angels. Donald Spoto's Joan follows Joan of Arc […]

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Remembering the Holocaust: Books for Kids

Always Remember Me book cover

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, begins on the evening of May 4 and ends on the evening of May 5. During this time, people around the world will remember the millions of people who lost their lives. It is difficult to talk about the Holocaust, but everyone wants to make sure it […]

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Sisters in STEAM

Nathalia Holt's newest book is out, and it's a real treat. Rise of the Rocket Girls chronicles the women "computers" of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the Cal Tech students who set it up to the launch of the space probe Juno, which is scheduled to start orbiting Jupiter in July. Under various managers, the computing department […]

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CPL Hosts Mayor Harold Washington Summit

In honor of the late Mayor Harold Washington, for whom the main library is named, Chicago Public Library will host the Mayor Harold Washington Summit on Monday, May 9. We'll celebrate and explore the life and legacy of Mayor Washington, the city’s first African-American mayor, during the daylong summit, highlighting the ways in which Mayor […]

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The Heroines of the Women’s Liberation Movement

Source: Photo by Virginia Blaisdell, used with permission

Equal pay and equal opportunity for women. Today these are basic rights, not radical concepts. But less than 50 years ago, The New York Times still had separate want ads for men and women. “All the good jobs—the premier jobs—were for the males,” says Jacqui Ceballos in She's Beautiful When She's Angry, an inspiring documentary […]

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Based On a True Story

Based On a True Story

I love it when authors and filmmakers claim that their works are based on true stories. It usually means that the original story went through so many different versions, there's no way to tell anymore what's true and what's false. Fur trapper Hugh Glass had a string of bad luck in 1823 when, in the […]

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How Do We Know That?

How Do We Know That

The world can be an unknowable blob, and we just can't figure it out. Whether it be history, science, psychology or whatever, unraveling how we know what we know can be just as confusing as knowing the stuff to begin with. That's why I'm fascinated by books about the research and discovery we use to learn […]

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The Salem Witch Trials Began on a Leap Day

"The Salem Martyr" by Thomas Slatterwhite Noble. Source: Collection of the New York Historical Society, Wikimedia Commons

Did you know the first warrants in the Salem witch trials were issued February 29, 1692? That was 324 years ago—or 81 leap years ago. The era of Britain's settlement in the Americas has given history some excellent works of literature and art. Witches, or the people with strange abilities who made some kind of evil bargain with a […]

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The Black National Anthem and the Multitalented Men Who Wrote It

J. Rosamond Johnson (l) with his brother James Weldon Johnson 
Source: ASCAP, Wikipedia

James Weldon Johnson is often called the Renaissance Man of the Harlem Renaissance—with good reason. The author of the novel The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man, he was also a respected poet, newspaper columnist, diplomat and the first black leader of the NAACP. But he is perhaps best known for writing the lyrics to the stirring […]

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