45 Years Ago Today Martin Luther King, Jr. Had a Dream

This week and next week you will hear many speeches (including tonight, Barack Obama's acceptance speech as the Democratic nominee), but 45 years ago today, in a 15-minute speech captured here on YouTube, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest orations of the 20th century, a hopeful vision during one of the most fractious periods of American social history that has since served as a rallying point for our country's better nature.

The Slaves’ War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves

Even if you've read a lot about the Civil War you have never read anything like this.

The Slaves’ War by Andrew Ward is a riveting narrative in the actual words of slaves from the beginning of the Civil War to shortly after its’ end. Woven together from interviews (done in the 1920s and 30s with former slaves), memoirs, diaries and letters, it is a poignant portrait of an incredibly diverse group of people—soldiers, cooks, seamstresses, teamsters, runaways, field hands, house servants, blacksmiths and laborers.

In their own words they discuss memories of battles, politics, slavery, hardship, betrayal, Lincoln, Davis, their enslavers, trying to stay alive and finding loved ones.

Most importantly, Ward had access to Ophelia Settle’s interviews with former slaves conducted under the auspices of Fisk University in the 1920s. Her interviews were much more candid than those conducted by the Federal Writers’ Program with the WPA because she was African American and allowed interviewees anonymity.

DuMouchelles Fine Arts Auctioneers and Estate Appraisal Visits the AADL

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If you have the Elgin Marbles, Joan Walker DuMochelle will appraise them as priceless, then tell you that Greece wants them back!

Do you have an old thing lying around that you've always wondered "What the heck is that and how much is it worth?"

What an exciting Wednesday night (August 20th from 7-8:30 p.m at the downtown branch) the AADL has in store for you!

Ms. DuMochelle will give a brief lecture about the appraisal and auction business, fine arts and the DuMochelle Art Galleries Company.

After the brief lecture Ms. DuMochelle will appraise and give a little history about items that patrons bring in.

Who knows what fabulous treasures will be uncovered?

Explore the subject further with Buying and Selling Antiques, Kovels' Know Your Antiques and The Elgin Affair.

August 11th - Happy Birthday Alex Haley!

Alex Haley, AuthorAlex Haley, Author

Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. As a young boy, Alex Haley learned of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by listening to the family stories of his maternal grandparents while spending his summers in Henning, Tennessee. According to family history, Kunta Kinte landed with other Gambian Africans in "Naplis" (Annapolis, Maryland) where he was sold into slavery. Alex Haley's quest to learn more about his family history resulted in his writing the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots. The book has been published in 37 languages, and was made into the first week-long television mini-series, viewed by an estimated 130 million people. Roots also generated widespread interest in genealogy and eventually helped spawn the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation.
Other Haley publications include many well received Playboy interviews (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), his first major book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, A Different Kind of Christmas, a 1990 book about the underground railroad, and Queen, the story of Haley's paternal ancestors. Perhaps one of Alex Haley's greatest gifts was in speaking. He was a fascinating teller of tales. In great demand as a lecturer, both nationally and internationally, he was on a lecture tour in Seattle, Washington when he suffered a heart attack and died in February 1992.

Da Vinci and His Times

Eyewitness Books does wonderful travel guides and historical guides.

Filled with beautiful illustrations and photos, Da Vinci and His Times depicts this genius of the Renaissance very nicely. It delves into the times in which he lived by describing the city-states of Italy, the Catholic Church, the architecture, the perfecting of proportion and perspective in painting, fashion, Da Vinci’s studies of the human body and flying machines and much more. If you read it you can find out who invented platform shoes in the 16th century!
This is just one in the Eyewitness series. The AADL has many more including Knights and Castles, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient China, Shakespeare and the Wild West.

Spend a summer afternoon reliving history and it will be like you were there (almost!).

On this day in history - Anne Frank & her family found in hiding by Nazis

In the vast sea of books about Holocaust victim Anne Frank and her famous diary, there surfaces a new story to shed more light on the 'real' Anne Frank. My name is Anne, she said, Anne Frank was written by Anne's childhood friend Jacqueline van Maarsen. While the Frank family was forced into hiding, Jacqueline escaped deportation just a few months after her best friend 'had gone to Switzerland', as she had been lead to believe. It was only when the war was over that Anne's father, Otto, revealed the truth and Jacqueline finally discovered what had happened.
For years after Anne's diary was published, the identity of her "best friend" she referred to was secret until van Maarsen owned up. Now she has written about the Anne she knew. This book contains approximately 30% more material from Anne's famous diary than the original 1947 edition, revising our understanding of one of the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. The Anne we meet here is much more sarcastic, rebellious and vulnerable than the sensitive diarist beloved by millions. Expanded entries provide a fuller picture of the tensions and quarrels among the eight people in hiding. Anne candidly discusses her awakening sexuality in entries that were omitted from the 1947 edition by her father. This translation provides an updated, unvarnished picture of life in the "secret annex".

On this date in history - Empire State Building Withstands Airplane Impact

The World Trade Center towers were not the first of New York’s skyscrapers to be hit by an airplane. On July 28, 1945, the Empire State Building withstood the impact of a U.S. Army Air Corps B-25 bomber. Fourteen lives were lost, but the steel structure remained standing after the unarmed trainer plane slammed into the building’s 79th floor. The accident was ruled by authorities to be caused by pilot error, after Lieutenant Colonel William F. Smith Jr., a decorated veteran of World War II and experienced pilot, apparently lost his way in the dense fog that had enveloped Manhattan that Saturday morning in July. Read all about this, and other interesting Empire State Building history, in John Tauranac's The Empire State Building : the making of a landmark. For you artsy readers, check out American photojournalist Lewis Hine's Lewis W. Hine : the Empire State Building.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #118

A bestseller in Europe, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key* opens in Paris, July 1942. Thinking she would be home in a few hours, ten year-old Sarah locks her younger brother in their secret hiding place as the police round up Jews for Stadium Vlodrome d'Hiver, en route to Auschwitz.

Sixty years later, American journalist Julia Jarmond is in Paris to investigate the round-up and stumbles onto a trail of family secrets that link her to Sarah.

Book groups all over the world have posted their discussion questions at the Sarah's Key blog site to share. The film rights have been sold to French producer Stéphane Marsil.

Tatiana de Rosnay writes for French ELLE. Since 1992, she has published eight novels in French. Sarah's Key is the first written in English.

This "shocking, profoundly moving, and morally challenging story" is highly recommended for book groups that have enjoyed Suite Française. For information on this time period, try Vichy France and the Jews.

* = Starred Reviews

Ruth Greenglass, Key Witness at the Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Dies at 84

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Another blog about the deceased puts me in the ghoul pool this week, but I couldn’t help myself when it was revealed today that Ruth Greenglass died on June 23rd.

In 1951, Mrs. Greenglass testified against her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Her testimony sealed all of their fates. The Rosenbergs were executed. David Greenglass (Ethel Rosenberg's brother) corroborated his wife’s testimony in his confession about a crucial issue and served ten years. Mrs. Greenglass was never indicted.

Perhaps with this death more information will come out of the woodwork about this Cold War espionage mystery. Most historians agree that the Rosenbergs did pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviets; the argument is the quality of the information that David Greenglass was able to gather as an Army Sergeant machinist. Many contend it wasn’t much.

Among many unanswered questions is who transcribed David Greenglass’s notes at the Rosenberg’s apartment in 1945? Was it Ethel Rosenberg or Ruth Greenglass?

Can you imagine being in a situation where you had to testify in a capital case against your wife, husband or sister? Conflicting testimony at different points on the timeline indicate someone was lying or “misspeaking’” (the newer term for lying).

The Ann Arbor District Library has several books you can read about this fascinating and dark period of American history.

The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts
The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth by Ronald Radosh
Early Cold War Spies by John Haynes

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau

American Earth, a hefty collection of essays and poetry, reads like a who's who of the shining stars of the environmental movement. Such literary environmentalists as Wendell Berry and John Burroughs; contemporary foodies Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan; poets Mary Oliver and Gary Snyder and activists John Muir, Julia Butterfly Hill and Cesar Chavez are represented, and join the voices of 92 other advocates for protecting and preserving the natural heritage of our planet. Edited by Bill McKibben, a prolific author and activist himself, this timely and thought-provoking book gives a picture of the long history and creativity of the environmental imagination. The range of material and diversity of authors - farmers, scientists, university professors, economists, singers, two presidents and one vice-president - means there is something here for everyone.

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