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Chasing Dragonflies
A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History
Cindy Crosby; Illustrations by Peggy Macnamara
Northwestern University Press, 2020

Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History is an engaging, beautifully illustrated introduction to these remarkable insects. Drawing on her experiences as a natural history instructor, dragonfly monitor, cancer survivor, grandmother, and steward, Crosby tells the stories of dragonflies: their roles in poetry and art, their fascinating sex life—unique within the animal kingdom—and their evolution from dark-water dwellers to denizens of the air. We follow Crosby and other citizen-scientists into the prairies, wetlands, and woodlands of the Midwest, where they observe the environment and chronicle dragonfly populations and migration to decipher critical clues about our changing waterways and climate.
Woven throughout are personal stories: reflections on the author’s cancer diagnosis and recovery, change, loss, aging, family, joy, and discovering what it means to be at home in the natural world. Crosby draws an intimate portrait of a landscape teeming with variety and mystery, one that deserves our attention and conservation. As warm as it is informative, this book will interest gardeners, readers of literary nonfiction, and anyone intrigued by transformation, whether in nature or our personal lives.


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China's Quest for Liberty
A Personal History of Freedom
Promise Hsu
St. Augustine's Press, 2014
China’s Quest for Liberty is a personal story of a young man fully engaged in understanding the world he was born into and working toward making that world into a better and freer place to life. It is about an unexpected journey a Chinese journalist has taken to pursue freedom, involving such diverse fields or disciplines as politics, business, humanities, science and technology, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. Some took place as daily life, and some occurred in detentions or disasters.

It is about a world whose dimensions have been basically obscured not only in China but also in the global public square, and walk with this young journalist, step by step, to find, paradoxically, the hope in the depth of hopelessness, the strength in acknowledging weakness, the change in substance by, among other things, keeping the form unchanged for at least a while, the youth in growing up despite growing old, the invisible in the visible, the imperishable in the perishable, the reality in the shadow of numerous fake realities, and the freedom gained not mainly through human efforts but as mercy and grace from the one who created humans and other beings.

As well as digging out the overlooked Christian background in the rise of the sanctity of human life, creative culture, constitutionalism, work as a vocation, modern management, servant leadership, and catchphrases like “the global village” and “The medium is the message”, the author tells of insider observations about the rise of Christianity in China generally and about Shouwang Church in particular. Through sharing these findings, this book aims to show how the one who made the universe rules the world and how this creator sets his creatures free by himself.

China’s Quest for Liberty is a fascinating work of nuance and surprise.

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Conversations With Maida Springer
A Personal History Of Labor, Race, and International Relations
Yevette Richards
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004

Born in Panama in 1910, Maida Springer grew up in Harlem. While still a young girl she learned firsthand of the bleak employment options available to African American females of her time.  After one employer closed his garment shop and ran off with the workers’ wages in the midst of the Depression, Springer joined Local 22 of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

This proved to be the first step in a remarkable advancement through the ranks of labor leadership positions that were typically dominated by white men. Ultimately, Springer became one of the AFL-CIO’s most important envoys to emerging African nations, earning her the nickname "Mama Maida" throughout that continent.

In this brilliantly edited collection of interviews, Yevette Richards allows Springer to tell her story in her own words. The result is a rare glimpse into the private struggles and thoughts behind one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating international labor leaders.


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Dragging Wyatt Earp
A Personal History of Dodge City
Robert Rebein
Ohio University Press, 2013

In Dragging Wyatt Earp essayist Robert Rebein explores what it means to grow up in, leave, and ultimately return to the iconic Western town of Dodge City, Kansas. In chapters ranging from memoir to reportage to revisionist history, Rebein contrasts his hometown’s Old West heritage with a New West reality that includes salvage yards, beefpacking plants, and bored teenagers cruising up and down Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

Along the way, Rebein covers a vast expanse of place and time and revisits a number of Western myths, including those surrounding Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, George Armstrong Custer, and of course Wyatt Earp himself. Rebein rides a bronc in a rodeo, spends a day as a pen rider at a local feedlot, and attempts to “buck the tiger” at Dodge City’s new Boot Hill Casino and Resort.

Funny and incisive, Dragging Wyatt Earp is an exciting new entry in what is sometimes called the nonfiction of place. It is a must- read for anyone interested in Western history, contemporary memoir, or the collision of Old and New West on the High Plains of Kansas.


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Get the Picture
A Personal History of Photojournalism
John G. Morris
University of Chicago Press, 2002
How do photojournalists get the pictures that bring us the action from the world's most dangerous places? How do picture editors decide which photos to scrap and which to feature on the front page?

Find out in Get the Picture, a personal history of fifty years of photojournalism by one of the top journalists of the twentieth century. John G. Morris brought us many of the images that defined our era, from photos of the London air raids and the D-Day landing during World War II to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. He tells us the inside stories behind dozens of famous pictures like these, which are reproduced in this book, and provides intimate and revealing portraits of the men and women who shot them, including Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and W. Eugene Smith. A firm believer in the power of images to educate and persuade, Morris nevertheless warns of the tremendous threats posed to photojournalists today by increasingly chaotic wars and the growing commercialism in publishing, the siren song of money that leads editors to seek pictures that sell copies rather than those that can change the way we see the world.

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Inside Alabama
A Personal History of My State
Harvey H. Jackson
University of Alabama Press, 2003
An affectionate, irreverent, candid look at the "Heart of Dixie"

This book tells Alabama’s history in a conversational style with an unapologetically subjective approach. Accessible to general readers and students alike, it recounts the history and politics of a state known for its colorful past, told by one of the state’s most noted historians and educators, whose family came to the territory before statehood. A native and resident Alabamian, Harvey Jackson has spent a lifetime discovering and trying to understand his state. Expressing deep love for its people and culture, he is no less critical of its shortcomings.

Inside Alabama, as the title implies, gives Jackson’s insider perspective on the events and conditions that shaped modern-day Alabama. With humor and candor, he explores the state’s cultural, political, and economic development from prehistoric times to the dawning of the new millennium. Mound-builders, Hernando de Soto, William Bartram, Red Sticks, Andy Jackson, Bourbon Democrats, suffragettes, New Dealers, Hugo Black, Martin Luther King Jr., George Wallace, Rosa Parks all play colorful parts in this popular history. By focusing on state politics as the most accessible and tangible expression of these shaping forces, Jackson organizes the fourteen chapters chronologically, artfully explaining why the past is so important today.

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The Jungles of Arkansas
A Personal History of the Wonder State
Robert Lancaster
University of Arkansas Press, 1989
When H. L. Mencken wrote about "the miasmatic jungles of Arkansas," he was referring to the relative obscurity and uncertain image that Arkansas has enjoyed—or suffered from—throughout its history. In these entertaining and sometimes quirky essays, Lancaster sheds light on that image by analyzing the stereotypes that have characterized the state since its very beginning.

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Miles to Go
A Personal History of Social Policy
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Harvard University Press, 1996

Has liberalism lost its way--or merely its voice? This book by one of the nation's most insightful, articulate, and powerful Democrats at last breaks the silence that has greeted the Republican Party's revolution of 1994. When voters handed Democrats their worst defeat in 100 years, New Yorkers returned Daniel Patrick Moynihan to the Senate for his fourth term. Amid the wreck of his party's control and the disarray of programs and policies he has championed for three decades, Senator Moynihan here takes stock of the politics, economics, and social problems that have brought us to this pass. With a clarity and civility far too rare in the political arena, he offers a wide-ranging meditation on the nation's social strategies for the last 60 years, as well as a vision for the years to come.

Because Senator Moynihan has long been a defender of the policies whose fortunes he follows here, Miles to Go is in a sense autobiographical, an exemplary account of the social life of the body politic. As it guides us through government's attempts to grapple with thorny problems like family disintegration, welfare, health care, deviance, and addiction, Moynihan writes of "The Coming of Age of American Social Policy." Through most of our history American social policy has dealt with issues that first arose in Europe, and essentially followed European models. Now, in a post-industrial society we face issues that first appear in the United States for which we will have to devise our own responses. Ringing with the wisdom of experience, decency, and common sense, Miles to Go asks "why liberalism cannot be taught what conservatives seem to know instinctively"--to heed the political and moral sentiments of the people and reshape itself for the coming age.


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Right to the Juke Joint
A Personal History of American Music
Patrick B Mullen
University of Illinois Press, 2018
The cowboy songs and dusty Texas car rides of his youth set Patrick B. Mullen on a lifelong journey into the sprawling Arcadia of American music. That music fused so-called civilized elements with native forms to produce everything from Zydeco to Conjunto to jazz to Woody Guthrie. The civilized/native idea, meanwhile, helped develop Mullen's critical perspective, guide his love of music, and steer his life's work. Part scholar's musings and part fan's memoir, Right to the Juke Joint follows Mullen from his early embrace of country and folk to the full flowering of an idiosyncratic, omnivorous interest in music. Personal memory merges with a lifetime of fieldwork in folklore and anthropology to provide readers with a deeply informed analysis of American roots music. Mullen opens up on the world of ideas and his own tireless fandom to explore how his cultural identity--and ours--relates to concepts like authenticity and "folkness." The result is a charming musical map drawn by a gifted storyteller whose boots have traveled a thousand tuneful roads.

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Structure and Features of Anna Komnene’s Alexiad
Emergence of a Personal History
Larisa Vilimonovic
Amsterdam University Press, 2018
The Alexiad, written in the twelfth century by a Byzantine princess, Anna Komnene, tells the story of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father, offering accounts of its political and military history, including its involvement with the First Crusade. Structure and Features of Anna Komnene’s Alexiad: Emergence of a Personal History introduces new methods of research for studying the Alexiad, aiming primarily at analysing Anna Komnene’s literary expression. The book’s approach focuses mainly on the author, the subject, the structure and the inner stylistic features, as well as the genre itself. The result is a substantially new outlook on the main Byzantine historiographical work of the twelfth century.

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Taking Society's Measure
A Personal History of Survey Research
Herbert Hyman
Russell Sage Foundation, 1991
How are we, as members of a society, informed of conditions that affect our social welfare? How does the government register the impact of its actions on its citizens? The turbulent 1930s saw the emergence of sample survey research as an increasingly valuable technique of social inquiry. Perhaps no one championed this nascent discipline as vigorously as Herbert Hyman, one of those pioneering investigators whose talents were so closely associated with the rapid growth of survey research that their professional careers and reputations became virtually indistinguishable from the field itself. Hyman's personal account is a remarkable contribution to the history and sociology of social research. His experiences with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office of War Information, the U.S. Bombing Surveys of Germany and Japan, the National Opinion Research Center, and the Bureau of Applied Social Research are all documented with fascinating insight into the critical events and prominent individuals that shaped the field of survey research between the late 1930s and the late 1950s.

front cover of The Toughest Kid We Knew
The Toughest Kid We Knew
The Old New West: A Personal History
Frank Bergon
University of Nevada Press, 2020
Frank Bergon’s newest work is a thoughtful exploration of the ways that memories of random childhood events become unexpected revelations about life in the West. In many senses this project is a personalized version of Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man where Bergon explored the ways that a multiethnic and multiracial society shaped, and continues to shape, the day-to-day lived realities of the residents and communities of the San Joaquin Valley. Bergon’s latest book creation, however, is more elegiac in tone, paying tribute to ranching and farming lives that are disappearing under suburban and exurban sprawl, industrial farming, and white-collar job growth.

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