front cover of The Biden School and the Engaged University of Delaware, 1961-2021
The Biden School and the Engaged University of Delaware, 1961-2021
Daniel Rich
University of Delaware Press, 2023
This book reviews the history of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration from 1961 to 2021. The focus is on the school’s accomplishments over its first sixty years, how they were achieved, and why they are significant. The analysis describes the challenges and opportunities that shaped the school’s development and its emergence as one of the nation’s leading public affairs schools. What began in 1961 as an experimental program supported by a single external grant emerged six decades later as one of the nation’s leading comprehensive schools of public affairs. That transformation unfolded during one of the most dynamic periods in the history of higher education when the public purpose of universities was expanded. The history of the Biden School is a story of institutional innovation, perseverance, adaptation, and resilience.

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The Corporate Contract in Changing Times
Is the Law Keeping Up?
Edited by Steven Davidoff Solomon and Randall Stuart Thomas
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Over the past few decades, significant changes have occurred across capital markets. Shareholder activists have become more prominent, institutional investors have begun to wield more power, and intermediaries like investment advisory firms have greatly increased their influence. These changes to the economic environment in which corporations operate have outpaced changes in basic corporate law and left corporations uncertain of how to respond to the new dynamics and adhere to their fiduciary duties to stockholders.
With The Corporate Contract in Changing Times, Steven Davidoff Solomon and Randall Stuart Thomas bring together leading corporate law scholars, judges, and lawyers from top corporate law firms to explore what needs to change and what has prevented reform thus far. Among the topics addressed are how the law could be adapted to the reality that activist hedge funds pose a more serious threat to corporations than the hostile takeovers and how statutory laws, such as the rules governing appraisal rights, could be reviewed in the wake of appraisal arbitrage. Together, the contributors surface promising paths forward for future corporate law and public policy.

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Honest John Williams
U.S. Senator from Delaware
Carol E. Hoffecker
University of Delaware Press
John J. Williams was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1946, defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator James M. Tunnell. Honest John Williams: U.S. Senator from Delaware examines the political career of Williams, a political novice who established himself as an important advocate for fiscal probity and integrity in government during four successive terms in the U.S. Senate between 1947 and 1970. Over the course of those twenty-four years in the Senate, which spanned the administrations of five separate U.S. presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon), Williams positioned himself as an opponent of wasteful government spending and corruption, often working ‘across the aisle’ in order to achieve specific political goals. In Honest John Williams, noted Delaware historian Carol E. Hoffecker offers readers a comprehensive look at the legislative course forged by Delaware’s first four-term senator, a chicken-feed dealer born on a farm near Sussex County who went on to become an important advocate for fiscal probity and integrity in twentieth-century American politics.

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A Journey through the West
Thomas Rodney’s 1803 Journal from Delaware to the Mississippi Territory
Thomas Rodney
Ohio University Press, 1997

In A Journey through the West, Thomas Rodney writes vividly about flea-infested taverns, bad roads, drunken crew members, squatters, Indians sodden berths, food from the wild and treacherous waters. His is one of the most detailed early-nineteenth-century travel accounts.

Rodney, a Revolutionary War patriot and veteran, had been active in Delaware politics and had served in the Continental Congress. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson appointed him as a land commissioner and a territorial judge in the newly formed Mississippi Territory. To assume his duties, Rodney and a small party traveled overland from Delaware across the length of southern Pennsylvania to Wheeling, (West) Virginia. From there, they boarded their newly constructed boat on the Ohio River and rowed, sailed, and drifted along the borders of (West) Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.

Finally they left the clear rapids of the Ohio and entered the muddy yet majestic Mississippi. They traveled southwesterly into a vast, exotic wilderness valley. The western shore of the Mississippi was still owned by Spain, and foreign soldiers were spotted. Under pressure to meet Rodney’s deadline for arrival in Mississippi Territory, the travelers were grateful for the Mississippi’s fast current. Yet in the journey’s last days they were faced with adventures and with near disaster when their boat struck a snag and partially sank.

Rodney kept a precise journal and sent letters to President Jefferson documenting his trek from the settled East through the barely chartered paths of the western wilderness. He hobnobbed with Meriwether Lewis, enjoyed the hospitality of Harman Blennerhassett, and received a tour of Cincinnati from Arthur St. Clair.

Dwight Smith and Ray Swick have compiled, edited and annotated Rodney’s story to present it in complete form for the first time. A Journey through the West is both a travel adventure and a colorful glimpse into the life of his day.


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Murder Town, USA
Homicide, Structural Violence, and Activism in Wilmington
Yasser Arafat Payne
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Far too many poor Black communities struggle with gun violence and homicide. The result has been the unnatural contortion of Black families and the inter-generational perpetuation of social chaos and untimely death. Young people are repeatedly ripped away from life by violence, while many men are locked away in prisons. In neighborhoods like those of Wilmington, Delaware, residents routinely face the pressures of violence, death, and incarceration. Murder Town, USA is thus a timely ethnography with an innovative structure: the authors helped organize fifteen residents formerly involved with the streets and/or the criminal justice system to document the relationship between structural opportunity and experiences with violence in Wilmington's Eastside and Southbridge neighborhoods. 
Earlier scholars offered rich cultural analysis of violence in low-income Black communities, and yet this literature has mostly conceptualized violence through frameworks of personal responsibility or individual accountability. And even if acknowledging the pressure of structural inequality, most earlier researchers describe violence as the ultimate result of some moral failing, a propensity for crime, and the notion of helplessness. Instead, in Murder Town USA, Payne, Hitchens, and Chamber, along with their collaborative team of street ethnographers, instead offer a radical re-conceptualization of violence in low-income Black communities by describing the penchant for violence and involvement in crime overall to be a logical, "resilient" response to the perverse context of structural inequality.

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Paris in America
A Deaf Nanticoke Shoemaker and His Daughter
Clara Jean Mosley Hall
Gallaudet University Press, 2018
Clara Jean Mosley Hall has inhabited various cultural worlds in her life: Native American, African American, Deaf, and hearing. The hearing daughter of a Deaf Nanticoke man, who grew up in Dover, Delaware’s Black community in the 1950s and 60s, Hall describes the intersections of these identities in Paris in America. By sharing her father’s experiences and relating her own struggles and successes, Hall honors her father’s legacy of hard work and perseverance and reveals the complexities of her own unique background.
​​      Hall was abandoned by her Deaf African American mother at a young age and forged a close bond with her father, James Paris Mosley, who communicated with her in American Sign Language. Although his family was Native American, they—like many other Nanticoke Native Americans of that region—had assimilated over time into Dover’s Black community. Hall vividly recounts the social and cultural elements that shaped her, from Jim Crow to the forced integration of public schools, to JFK and Motown. As a Coda (child of deaf adults) in a time when no accessibility or interpreting services were available, she was her father’s sole means of communication with the hearing world, a heavy responsibility for a child. After her turbulent teenage years, and with the encouragement of her future husband, she attended college and discovered that her skills as a fluent ASL user were a valuable asset in the field of education.
​​      Hall went on to become a college professor, mentor, philanthropist, and advocate for Deaf students from diverse backgrounds. Her memoir is a celebration of her family, her faith, her journey, and her heritage.

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Queering Rehoboth Beach
Beyond the Boardwalk
James T. Sears
Temple University Press, 2024
“Create a More Positive Rehoboth” was a decades-long goal for progress and inclusiveness in a charming beach town in southern Delaware. Rehoboth, which was established in the 19th century as a Methodist Church meeting camp, has, over time, become a thriving mecca for the LGBTQ+ community. In Queering Rehoboth Beach, historian and educator James Sears charts this significant evolution.

Sears draws upon extensive oral history accounts, archival material, and personal narratives to chronicle “the Battle for Rehoboth,” which unfolded in the late 20th century, as conservative town leaders and homeowners opposed progressive entrepreneurs and gay activists. He recounts not just the emergence of the gay and lesbian bars, dance clubs, and organizations that drew the queer community to the region, but also the efforts of local politicians and homeowners, among other groups who fought to develop and protect the traditional identity of this beach town. Moreover, issues of race, class, and gender and sexuality informed opinions as residents and visitors struggled with the AIDS crisis and the legacy of Jim Crow.

Queering Rehoboth Beach is more than just an inspiring story about a community’s resilience and determination to establish a safe space for itself in the wake of the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is also a terrific beach read.

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Victorine du Pont
The Force behind the Family
Leonard C. Spitale
University of Delaware Press, 2023
Victorine Elizabeth du Pont, the first child of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont and his wife Sophie, was seven years old when her family emigrated to America, where her father established the humble beginnings of what would become a corporate giant. Through correspondence with friends and relatives from the ages of eight to sixty-eight, Victorine unwittingly chronicled the first sixty years of the du Pont saga in America. As she recovered from personal tragedy, she became first tutor of her siblings and relations. This biography makes the case that Victorine has had the broadest—and most enduring—influence within the entire du Pont family of any family member. The intellectual heir of her venerable grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, although Victorine grew up in an age where women's opportunities were limited, her pioneering efforts in education, medicine, and religion transformed an entire millworkers’ community.

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Votes for Delaware Women
Anne M. Boylan
University of Delaware Press, 2021
Votes for Delaware Women is the first book-length study of the woman suffrage struggle in Delaware, placing it within the rich historical scholarship of the national story. It looks especially at why, despite decades of suffrage organizing and an epic struggle in Dover, in the spring of 1920, the legislature refused to make Delaware the final state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. The book traces how, starting in the 1890s, white and African American women organized and advocated for "votes for women," first by revising the state constitution and then through a federal amendment. Within the state's two major suffrage organizations, the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association (DESA), an affiliate of the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and the Delaware branch of the National Woman's Party (NWP), divisions over strategy and tactics widened into fissures, especially during the Great War, making it difficult to unite in a common endeavor. Delaware was unusual as a border state that was segregated but did not disfranchise African Americans. In the end, the book argues, a combination of racial and class issues doomed the ratification effort.

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