Pioneer Theater Guild stages classic musical Oklahoma!

Pioneer High Theater Guild is busy rehearsing Oklahoma! for performances Nov. 7-15. I see on their blog that last month historian Nancy Bryk gave the cast some historical perspective. Ticket info for this fabulous sounding musical is here. All together now: "O-o-o-o-k-lahoma where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain . . ."

Off with her head!

On October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France under Louis XIV, was beheaded by the French citizenry who were angered by her extravagance. The statement: "Let them eat cake" was credited to her. As the French Revolution raged, she was taken to prison where after several failed escape attempts, was led to the guillotine.

The novel, Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund describes her rise and fall in rich, evocative language. "The French Revolution Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, A New Republic Is Born is an excellent film that includes quite a bit on the tragic queen.

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #5

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Readers of mysteries know that a good mystery writer is a rare find. Even though we’ll put up with mid-grade “who done its” to find out what happened in the end; the feeling left is similar to drinking flat ginger ale.

Philip Kerr a well known author of chidren’s books has also written a series of novels based in Berlin during the 1920's and 30's with a character named Bernard Gunther. Bernie is a former homicide inspector turned private detective trying to survive while the Nazis are taking over. Kerr is a master at intertwining a good story it into this fascinating, grim period. Try solving a crime when the biggest crime in world history is happening all around you.

The library has the Berlin Noir Trilogy: the first of which, March Violets published in 1989, won the Prix du Roman d'Aventures, The Pale Criminal published in 1990 and A German Requiem published in 1993.

Philip Kerr returned to writing more Bernie Gunther mysteries in the past few years but they are not Unjustly Dusty so you have to find out about them on your own!

The World in Ancient Times

Recently, the library has acquired a collection of youth non-fiction books entitled "The World in Ancient Times," which delves into the history of past cultures using archaeology: material culture, skeletal remains, as well as ancient legends and myth, and archaic texts. We have books on ancient Egyptian, South Asian, African and Middle Eastern, American, and even more cultures. These books are filled with vivid pictures and maps of past civilizations and contain some great information for homework/papers or just for fun!

Books and Libraries in Antiquity

Library of EphesusLibrary of Ephesus

What did the ancient books of the Greeks and Romans look like? What were the bestsellers of the ancient world, and who read them?

These questions, and more, will be answered on Wednesday, September 30, when UM Associate Professor Arthur Verhoogt will discuss Books And Libraries In Antiquity, a fascinating presentation which introduces the books of the Greeks and Romans .

The presentation -- which will take place from 7-8:30 in the multi-purpose room of the downtown library -- will also provide information on the book trade, book collectors, exciting new book discoveries, and some famous libraries from antiquity.

At Home With the British Royal Family

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world - its footprint takes up 13 acres and the floor space equals 484,000 square feet. But it is kept immaculate for the Britsh Royal Family, who reside there for most of the year, and an adoring British public, who flock to the castle in droves to enjoy its beauty and history and the many events which mark the turn of the royal year. The castle is almost a thousand years old, steeped in tradition and ritual, and houses art treasures and memorabilia from the reigns of 40 British monarchs. Adjoining the castle is the Home Park - a 655 acre tract of forests, waterways, two working farms, the stables for the royal horses (known as the Windsor Greys), the Ascot racetrack, polo fields, a sanctuary of red deer, a local farmer’s and artisan’s market, and assorted estates and cottages for castle employees.

How in the world does one keep up appearances on a property that large and important? With a devoted staff of over 300 people, which includes chamber maids, liveried footmen, flagmen, fendersmiths, stablemen, chefs and cooks, librarians (!), furniture craftsmen, clocksmiths, rangers, farmers, art restorers and event-planners, who keep the castle ticking away in perfect order and precision. In 2005, a film crew was allowed special permission to record the happenings at the castle for an entire year, following the Queen and her family as they preside over state dinners, horse races and processions, and the castle staff on the rounds of maintaining and showing off the castle through every season. The result is this most engaging dvd Windsor Castle: A Royal Year.
Windsor Castle

Let's Fill in the Family Tree

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The experts from the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County will be on hand Sunday, Sept. 20, 2:00 ~ 3:30 p.m., at the Traverwood Branch to help you with your family history research. Following a short presentation on the resources available to you at the GSWC Library and the Ann Arbor District Library including Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest, society members will work one-on-one with you whatever stage you're at in your quest to fill in the family tree.

Archaeology for Kids

Looking for a book on archaeology for children that is packed with detailed information, fabulous photographs, and a link to an educational website? Pick up a copy of The Usborne Introduction to Archaeology : Internet-Linked here at the AADL. Even without access to the internet, this book is a complete reference work on its own. Readers will learn about archaeological techniques (like dendrochronology and thermoluminescence dating), and a variety of archaeological sites around the globe. Explore Teotihuacan, ancient Persepolis, Harappa, Mesa Verde, and Egypt's Valley of the Kings, just to name a few. Access to the internet will link you to Usborne's educational website where you can take virtual tours of famous ancient sites, follow finds from discovery to restoration, participate in activities like unwrapping a virtual mummy, or follow links to other great archaeology sites for kids like the American Museum of Natural History's ArchaeOlogy: Clues from the Past.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #175

In Zoë Klein's debut novel Drawing in the Dust*, 39 year-old American archeologist Page Brookstone is asked to risk her professional reputation and personal safety when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home in Anatot, Israel, claiming that it is haunted by the spirits of two lovers.

When Page discovers the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah entwined with that of a mysterious women name Anatiya, she must race against the clock to translate Antalya’s diary found nearby, before enraged religious and secular forces come into play.

Parallel the ancient love story is the contemporary one of Page and Mortichai - an engaged, half-Irish Orthodox Jew, that "raises a Jewish Da Vinci Code to an emotionally rich story of personal and historical discovery".

Zoe Klein, a rabbi, lives and works in Los Angeles. She has written for Harper's Bazaar and Glamour magazines, and appeared as a commentator on the History Channel program Digging for the Turth .

* = starred reviews

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #3

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Historian Bruce Catton, born in Petoskey, received a Pulitzer and a National Book Award for A Stillness at Appomattox, the third volume in his trilogy about the Civil War. His description of the hours leading up to the end of the war, when Grant and Lee finally meet, deftly captures the humanity and inhumanity of it all.

His excellent narrative style often focused on regimental histories and first person sources instead of only recounting what the generals did. Historians Shelby Foote, Ken Burns and Stephen Ambrose followed in his footsteps popularizing American history.

The first volume of the trilogy, Mr. Lincoln’s Army, includes General George McClellan’s rise and fall and the Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, the first day of which is the single bloodiest day in American military history with estimated casualties of 23,000.

Bruce Catton wrote many books about the Civil War and Michigan history, browse the available titles at Catton Titles.

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