The Monuments Men

One of the most anticipated movies this fall is The Monuments Men, based on the book The Monuments Men : Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel.

The Monuments Men, a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of them volunteers, who were museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. These mostly middle-aged family men, walked away from successful careers into the epicenter of the war, risking—and some losing—their lives. They raced against time in order to save the world’s greatest cultural treasures from destruction at the hands of Nazi regime.

A little known fact is that one of these brave men lived among us quietly for decades - Charles Sawyer, a member of the Roberts Commission, established by President Roosevelt on June 23, 1943, charged with promoting the preservation of cultural properties in war areas, provided this mission did not interfere with military operations. Professor Sawyer was the Director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art from 1957-1972.

The Charles Sawyer Center for Museum Studies at the University of Michigan Museum of Art was founded in his honor in 2003. “Charlie” Sawyer passed away after a brief illness on February 25, 2005. Here are the Old News articles on Charles Sawyer.

AADL Talks To WWII Vet Thomas Fournier

In this episode, AADL talks to long-time Kerrytown resident Thomas Fournier. Mr. Fournier is an ex-Seebee and WWII Veteran who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day at the age of 17. Tom survived D-Day and two more amphibious landings in New Guinea and the Philippines before coming home in 1945. Tom talked with AADL about his early life in Detroit and his experience as a Seabee in World War II. His stories of military life and the camaraderie, bravery and humor that sustained the troops are honest and compelling.

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"Dallas 1963" and award-winning author Bill Minutaglio come to AADL!

Join us on Sunday, October 20, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, for a special event with award-winning author Bill Minutaglio as he discusses the newly released Dallas 1963 : Patriots, Traitors, and the Assassination of JFK – just in time to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of JFK. The event includes a book signing and books will be on sale.

The Kennedy assassination has inspired countless conspiracy theories and has developed its own strange mythology, shrouding the already clouded truth in further mystery. But instead of falling into the trap of speculation, Bill and his co-author, Steven L. Davis, focus on the people, power, and politics that existed in Dallas from 1960-1963. With spellbinding storytelling, they lead us through intimate glimpses of the Kennedy family and the machinations of the Kennedy White House, to the obsessed men in Dallas who concocted the climate of hatred that led many to blame the city for the president’s death.

This is a story not of magic bullets but of people and ideologies, a sobering look at the making of a political powder keg.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #428 - "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage" ~ Anais Nin

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber is based on the real life story, (check out one of many incredible primary sources) of a 19th-century American woman who sought freedom and independence while disguised as a man.

In 1855, when no women traveled unescorted, hunted with a rifle, got paid for a back-breaking day's work, or dressed the way she wanted, Lucy Ann Lobdell hopped a train at daybreak in her brother's cast-offs, and started a new life as Joseph Lobdell, a music/dance instructor in Honesdale, Pa., far from her New York home, her disapproving family and a young daughter she had to leave behind.

As Joseph Lobdell, she finds not only a wealth of economic opportunity but also the chance to participate in intellectual and political discussions. However, the danger of being exposed meant quick escapes and sudden leave-taking, even from the woman she came to love.

"A well-crafted 'memoir' of an unforgettable person, with plenty of questions about freedom, love and responsibility."

"What makes this story stand out is the author's skill in imagining the life of a transgender woman in a time when women had virtually no power in the world and when different sexual orientations were considered grave mental illnesses. By serving as Lucy's voice —not to mention doing what was obviously a great deal of historical research, —the author becomes her advocate and encourages readers to do the same. A unique and important book. "

Reader might also be interested in Wild Life by Molly Gloss; and Women of the Frontier : 16 tales of trailblazing homesteaders, entrepreneurs, and rabble-rousers by Brandon Maire Miller for stories of strong and courageous women who seriously pushed boundaries.

An exciting parallel and just release yesterday is Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, "A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge - the story of Alma Whittaker, who bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas".

National Book Awards' nonfiction longlist for 2013 has been released

The lists just keep on rolling out from the National Book Awards.

Monday we had the young people's list. Yesterday, we learned of the poetry contenders.

Today, it's the nonfiction titles. Of the ten authors selected, nine are new to this honor. Among the contenders are:

Jill Lepore, who tells the story of Ben Franklin's impressive sister in Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

In Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, Wendy Lower digs into the lives of half a million women Nazis who participated in the genocide.

Part of Alan Taylor's The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, is his fascinating account of a group of Virginia slaves who boarded British warships and made a bargain -- in exchange for protection of their families, the slaves would share their extensive knowledge of Virginia to help England's war efforts.

For a complete list of nonfiction titles, check here.

Watch this space for release of the fiction titles.

All finalists will be announced on October 16th.

Winners will be announced on November 20th at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner.

"Ole 98" Is Safe! Lt. Tom Harmon - Great on the Field, Heroic in Battle

On September 7, 2013, The University of Michigan football team unretired the jersey of one of their greatest, All-American Tom Harmon. Most Michigan fans know about his many exploits on the field that won him the Heisman Trophy. Fewer know that he served heroically in World War II. On April 15, 1943, the story broke in the Ann Arbor News that his Army bomber plane went down and he was Missing in Action. Harmon's ordeal dominated the front page of the News for much of April, as family, friends and fans assured each other that "Ole 98" was tough enough to survive a crash and the jungles of South America. The Ann Arbor News wondered if the flight was his Last Play?

Then, on April 17th, news came that Harmon was safe, having survived a solo, four-day ordeal in the jungle. His parents got the news just after returning from a mass in his honor at St. Mary's Student Chapel. An emotional Michigan coach, Fritz Crisler, and the city were overjoyed at the news. Harmon was the only crew member to survive the crash. He shared the story of the crash and his jungle odyssey in a column released by the Army. The photo that ran in the News on April 23 showed a worn and weary but thankful soldier. Harmon got right back into the fight and in October, 1943, he was shot down over China only to escape capture a second time. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. Harmon died in 1990.

Preserving Family Treasures

My mother has a favorite doll. It is grungy, old, and faded but it is her favorite because of the memories that are attached to it. The story is that when she was about 6 years old she went with my grandpa to the local dump. Now I have no idea why they were there, but in the distance, my mom’s eye caught sight of the most beautiful doll she had ever seen. She asked my grandpa if he would go get it for her. As he looked at the mound of waste between him and the object of his daughter’s desires, he did what any father would do. He tried to talk her out of it. But my mother would not be dissuaded and her timid asking quickly became more of a frantic pleading. Finally my grandpa ventured out on a mission to retrieve the doll and waded through quite a bit of trash before he reached the it. The doll was smelly and dirty, but out of all of the toys my mom had growing up, this doll is the one that she has treasured, not because of the doll itself, but because of what the doll signifies. It is a representation of her dad’s love for her and is a reminder of her happy childhood.

Maybe you have a similar story, some memento from a grandparent, parent, or favorite aunt that is sitting in a box in the attic. Protecting and preserving these items is incredibly important and can sometimes be neglected. Ultimately they are not just objects, but connections to our past and collective history. On September 9 at 6:00 P.M. the Delta Township District Library is hosting a presentation given by internationally renowned preservationist and ALA 2012 Ken Haycock Award winner Jeanne Drewes. Not feeling up to a road trip to Lansing? No problem! The presentation will be streamed live and should be accessible through this link. Learn how to protect those family treasures and preserve the memories attached to them.

“Murder in Battle Creek,” Discussed by Michigan Author Blaine Pardoe

All fans of the true crime and mystery genres are sure to love our upcoming program about a 50-year-old murder mystery that still goes unsolved, despite the presence of witnesses! Blaine Pardoe, a Michigan author hailing from Battle Creek, will be at AADL’s Downtown Multi-Purpose Room to discuss his new book about the infamous murder. His book, titled “Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick,” will be sold and signed at the event. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday August 21, 2013: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

"Women Who Make America" Details Struggle for Equality

Makers: Women Who Make America is a three-part PBS documentary narrated by Meryl Streep. The film delves into the story of the birth of the modern women’s movement and covers five decades of women’s struggle for equality at home, work and life. I expected to have this documentary on in the background as I worked on other things, but found the film so engrossing, I watched all of it in one sitting.

The story of activism, feminism and what became known as women’s liberation is told through old film footage and interviews with women who did more than stand by and watch; they brought about change one move at a time. The women come from social, economical, and political backgrounds that are as varied as their personalities. They are flight attendants, coal miners, mothers, politicians, secretaries, writers, actresses, telephone operators and executives.

With retro music and advertisements, "Makers" quickly pulls the viewer into the stories and lives of women such as Judy Blume, Sandra Day O’Connor, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Nora Ephron, Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary Clinton.

Film: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective

Wednesday May 22, 2013: 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

AADL joins the Performance Network Theatre for a special screening of the acclaimed documentary "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective". The film examines the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.- the subject for the Performance Network's May production of Katori Hall's new play "The Mountaintop".

In this award-winning documentary, writer/director Thomas Friedman takes a look Reverend King's ideas, actions, and influence on the fight to end racial segregation. Performance Network staff will be on hand to provide an introduction to "The Mountaintop," which is having its Michigan Premiere at the Network through June 2.

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