Co-published with the DuSable Museum of African American History
Recipient of 2007 The Hyde Park Historical Society Paul Cornell Award
A collection of interviews with African Americans who came to Chicago from the South. In their first great migration to Chicago that began during World War I, African Americans came from the South seeking a better life--and fleeing a Jim Crow system of racial prejudice, discrimination, and segregation. What they found was much less than what they'd hoped for, but it was much better than what they'd come from--and in the process they set in motion vast changes not only in Chicago but also in the whole fabric of American society. This book, the first of three volumes, revisits this momentous chapter in American history with those who lived it.
Oral history of the first order, Bridges of Memory lets us hear the voices of those who left social, political, and economic oppression for political freedom and opportunity such as they'd never known--and for new forms of prejudice and segregation. These children and grandchildren of ex-slaves found work in the stockyards and steel mills of Chicago, settled and started small businesses in the "Black Belt" on the South Side, and brought forth the jazz, blues, and gospel music that the city is now known for. Historian Timuel D. Black, Jr., himself the son of first-generation migrants to Chicago, interviews a wide cross-section of African Americans whose remarks and reflections touch on issues ranging from fascism to Jim Crow segregation to the origin of the blues. Their recollections comprise a vivid record of a neighborhood, a city, a society, and a people undergoing dramatic and unprecedented changes.
Ernest Hemingway once said of Nelson Algren's writing that "you should not read it if you cannot take a punch." The prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make, filled with language that swings and jabs and stuns, lives up to those words. This 50th anniversary edition is newly annotated with explanations for everything from slang to Chicagoans, famous and obscure, to what the Black Sox scandal was and why it mattered. More accessible than ever, this is, as Studs Terkel says, "the best book about Chicago."
"This short, crisp, fighting creed is both a social document and a love poem, a script in which a lover explains his city's recurring ruthlessness and latent power; in which an artist recognizes that these are portents not of death, but of life."—New York Herald Tribune
Nelson Algren (1909-1981) won the National Book Award in 1950 for The Man with the Golden Arm. His other works include Walk on the Wild Side, The Neon Wilderness, and Conversations with Nelson Algren, the last available from the University of Chicago Press. David Schmittgens teaches English at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois. Bill Savage is a lecturer at Northwestern University and coeditor of the 50th Anniversary Critical Edition of The Man with the Golden Arm.
“Once you’ve become a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
Ernest Hemingway once said of Nelson Algren’s writing that “you should not read it if you cannot take a punch.” The prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make, filled with language that swings and jabs and stuns, lives up to those words. In this sixtieth anniversary edition, Algren presents 120 years of Chicago history through the lens of its “nobodies nobody knows”: the tramps, hustlers, aging bar fighters, freed death-row inmates, and anonymous working stiffs who prowl its streets.
Upon its original publication in 1951, Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make was scorned by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and local journalists for its gritty portrayal of the city and its people, one that boldly defied City Hall’s business and tourism initiatives. Yet the book captures the essential dilemma of Chicago: the dynamic tension between the city’s breathtaking beauty and its utter brutality, its boundless human energy and its stifling greed and violence.
The sixtieth anniversary edition features historic Chicago photos and annotations on everything from defunct slang to Chicagoans, famous and obscure, to what the Black Sox scandal was and why it mattered. More accessible than ever, this is, as Studs Terkel says, “the best book about Chicago.”
Last Words of the Executed
Robert K. Elder University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN6328.L3E43 2010 | Dewey Decimal 082
Some beg for forgiveness. Others claim innocence. At least three cheer for their favorite football teams.
Death waits for us all, but only those sentenced to death know the day and the hour—and only they can be sure that their last words will be recorded for posterity. Last Words of the Executed presents an oral history of American capital punishment, as heard from the gallows, the chair, and the gurney.
The product of seven years of extensive research by journalist Robert K. Elder, the book explores the cultural value of these final statements and asks what we can learn from them. We hear from both the famous—such as Nathan Hale, Joe Hill, Ted Bundy, and John Brown—and the forgotten, and their words give us unprecedented glimpses into their lives, their crimes, and the world they inhabited. Organized by era and method of execution, these final statements range from heartfelt to horrific. Some are calls for peace or cries against injustice; others are accepting, confessional, or consoling; still others are venomous, rage-fueled diatribes. Even the chills evoked by some of these last words are brought on in part by the shared humanity we can’t ignore, their reminder that we all come to the same end, regardless of how we arrive there.
Last Words of the Executed is not a political book. Rather, Elder simply asks readers to listen closely to these voices that echo history. The result is a riveting, moving testament from the darkest corners of society.
With the incisive pen of a newspaperman and the compassionate soul of a poet, Mike Royko was a Chicago institution who became, in Jimmy Breslin's words, "the best journalist of his time." Culled from 7500 columns and spanning four decades, from his early days to his last dispatch, the writings in this collection reflect a radically changing America as seen by a man whose keen sense of justice and humor never faltered. Faithful readers will find their old favorites and develop new ones, while the uninitiated have the enviable good fortune of experiencing this true American voice for the first time.
"A treasure trove lies between these covers. Royko was in a class by himself. He was a true original."—Ann Landers
"The joy of One More Time is Royko in his own words."—Mary Eileen O'Connell, New York Times Book Review
"Reading a collection of Royko's columns is even more of a pleasure than encountering them one by one, and that is a large remark for he rarely wrote a piece that failed to wake you up with his hard-earned moral wit. Three cheers for Royko!"—Norman Mailer
"Powerful, punchy, amazingly contemporary."—Neil A. Grauer, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This crackling collection of his own favorite columns as well as those beloved by his fans reminds us just how much we miss the gruff, compassionate voice of Mike Royko."—Jane Sumner, Dallas Morning News
"A marvelous road map through four decades of America."—Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune Books
"Royko was an expert at finding universal truths in parochial situations, as well as in the larger issues—war and peace, justice and injustice, wealth and poverty—he examined. Think of One More Time as one man's pungent commentary on life in these United States over the last few decades."—Booklist
"Royko was one of the most respected and admired people in the business, by readers and colleagues alike. . . . Savor [his sketches] while you can."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
"Book collections of columns aren't presumed to be worth reading. This one is, whether or not you care about newspapering or Chicago."—Neil Morgan, San Diego Union-Tribune
"A treasure house for journalism students, for would-be writers, for students of writing styles, for people who just like to laugh at the absurdity of the human condition or, as Studs Terkel said, for those who will later seek to learn what it was really like in the 20th century."—Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times
"Full of astonishments, and the greatest of these is Royko's technical mastery as a writer."—Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker
"A great tribute to an American original, a contrarian blessed with a sense of irony and a way with words."—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
"In this posthumous collection of his columns, journalist Royko displays the breezy wit that made him so beloved in the Windy City."—People
Virginia Foster Durr is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and she was raised in Birmingham during the early years of this century. She attended Wellesley for two years, until her family’s circumstances made it impossible for her to continue. Virginia’s sister Josephine married Hugo Black; and in 1926 Virginia married a young lawyer named Clifford Durr. The Durrs moved to Washington shortly after Roosevelt’s inauguration, and Clifford was one of the “bright young lawyers” whom the new president relied upon to draft the legislation establishing the New Deal. After World War II the Durrs moved to Denver, then to Montgomery, where Clifford became one of the few white lawyers to represent blacks in civil rights cases. During the Durrs’ Washington years Virginia had been active in the movement to abolish the poll tax and in to her liberal causes; and back in Montgomery, she shared Clifford’s commitment to the civil rights movement and served as an inspiration to liberals of both races.
Virginia Durr has succeeded in articulating the pleasures and the difficulties of growing up female in the vigorous young city of Birmingham; the broadening (and in some ways also restricting) of young women’s intellectual horizons and social life at Wellesley; and the excitement of the courtship and marriage of a proper young Southern girl of good family and poor circumstance. She brings to life the social and political climate of Washington during the New Deal and war years, where her close connection to Justice Black gave the Durrs access to people whom they might not have come to know otherwise. A victim of McCarthyism, Clifford returned with Virginia to Montgomery with no job and few prospects. Their decision to become engaged in the civil rights struggle was consistent with their lifelong commitment to follow their consciences, regardless of the social and economic consequences.
“Virginia Durr said it: there were three ways for a well brought-up young Southern white woman to go.
She could be the actress, playing out the stereotype of the Southern belle. Gracious to ‘the colored help,’ flirtatious to her powerful father-in-law, and offering a sweet, winning smile to the world. In short, going with the wind.
If she had a spark of independence or worse, creativity, she could go crazy—on the dark, shadowy street traveled by more than one Southern belle.
Or she could be the rebel. She could step outside the magic circle, abandon privilege, and challenge this way of life. Ostracism, bruised of all sorts, and defamation would be her lot. Her reward would be a truly examined life. And a world she would otherwise never have known.” — from the Foreword by Studs Terkel