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1. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton – PPBF, Diversity Day, 2016

  Celebrating Black History Month! Title: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses HortonPoet: Author and illustrator: Don Tate Publisher: Peachtree Books, 2015 Themes: slavery, illiteracy, poetry, African American, perseverance, Genre: biography Ages: 6-9 Opening: GEORGE LOVED WORDS. He wanted to learn how to read, but George was enslaved. He and his family lived … Continue reading

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2. Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? by The Anne Frank House

In 2005, the United Nations issued a declaration stating that January 27th would be designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It only seems fitting to remember the victims of the Holocaust with a new book
about the secret annex where Anne Frank, her family and four other people hid from the Nazis in the annex of her father's business at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam for more than two years.

Anne is a young girl whose short life has resonated in the lives of so many young people since her diary was first published.  The Diary of a Young Girl.  It is a moving account of Anne's life in the Annex, in which readers discover Anne's humorous side, her mischievous side, her budding sexuality, her hopes and dreams.

But Anne wasn't alone and although she mentions names and incidents in her diary, what do we really know about the other people in the Annex?  Or the helpers on the outside?  What did the people in the annex do all day?  What did they eat? Where did their food and other needed items come from?

The decision to hide from the Nazis, to live in such close quarters for more than 2 years, from July 1942 to August 1944, couldn't have been an easy one to make and definitely requited a plan, detailed organization, and the help of trusted people who could provide them with food and other necessities.  

Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who is a comprehensive book that brings it all together so that we may understand the risks and dangers everyone connected to Prinsengracht 263 faced on a daily basis.

The book begins with a very brief history of post WWI Germany, Adolf Hitler's rise to becoming the German chancellor in 1933, blaming the Jews for all of the country's problems.  Otto Frank immediately decided to leave Germany and settle in the Netherlands.  There he set up his business at Prinsengracht 263.  But in 1940, after Germany invaded the Netherlands, they immediately put anti-Jewish regulations in place, making life harder and harder for all Jews living there, until, in 1942, Otto Frank moved his family once again - directly into hiding.

The book continues with description of the daily routine of the hiders, food and it distribution, and other daily discomforts, how holidays and birthdays were celebrated.  Even a detailed description of the building they were hiding in.

This is followed with detailed biographies of all the people in hiding, those that helped them, other people who worked in or around Prinsengracht 263, even the cats are included.  Any one of those peripheral people could have (and may have) turned in the people in the annex to the Nazis if they became aware of their presence.

Anne Frank and her diary have held the attention of readers, young and old, since it was first published, but the publication of Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? gives readers a more detailed, more rounded out picture of who each individual was, making them more human and less the shadowy people we know from the diary.  

It's hard to imagine what it must have been like to be cut off from everyone and everything for more than two years, never going outside, never even breathing fresh air from an open window, and living in silence day by day.  This is an ideal book to be used in conjunction with Anne's diary as a way of introducing the Holocaust to young readers.

The book also contains an abundance of photographs, some never before published of everyone and everything related to the secret annex, including photos of all the helpers.  There are also maps, including one of the concentration camps that the hiders were sent to after being discovered, a Concise Timeline along with the Lifeline of helpers and hiders, and a useful Glossary, a list of Sources, and suggestions for further reading.

Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? is available only as an ebook.

And on this 2016 International Holocaust Remembrance Day,  please take a moment today to think about all those who were victims of this tragedy, those who didn't survive as well as those who did.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Open Road Media

Curious about Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who?  Here's an excerpt you can read:

Excerpt
“Daily Life in the Secret Annex”

                  “At a quarter to seven, the alarm clock went off in the Secret Annex. The eight occupants would get up and wash before the warehouse workers arrived at half past eight. After that, they had to keep noise to a minimum. They walked in slippers, avoided the creaking stairs, and didn’t use any running water. Coughing, sneezing, laughing, talking, or quarreling was absolutely forbidden. To kill time, the eight would spend the morning reading and studying. Some did needlework, while others prepared the next meal. Miep, working in the office on the first floor, along with Johannes, Victor, and Bep, would go upstairs to the Secret Annex to pick up the shopping list.

“It’s twelve thirty. The whole gang breathes a sigh of relief,” Anne wrote. At noon, the warehouse workers went home for lunch and the annex occupants could relax a little. The helpers from the office usually dropped in, and Jan Gies sometimes joined them. At one o’clock, they all listened to the BBC on the illegal “little baby radio” before having lunch. After the lunch break, the helpers went back downstairs and most of the occupants took naps. Anne often “used this time to write in her diary. Silence prevailed for the rest of the afternoon: Potatoes were peeled, quiet chores done for the office, and reading and studying continued, while below, the helpers worked in the office. Miep and Bep would slip out during the afternoon or after office hours to work their way through the shopping list, which usually included food, clothing, soap, and even birthday presents.

When the warehouse workers left at around half past five, Bep gave the occupants a sign. As the helpers returned to their own spouses or families, the Secret Annex came to life: Someone would grab the warehouse key and fetch the bread, typewriters were carried upstairs, potatoes were set to boil, and the cat door in the coal storage bin was opened for Peter’s cat, Mouschi. Everyone had his or her own task. After dinner, they sometimes played a game. At around nine o’clock, the occupants prepared for bed, with much shuffling of chairs and “the folding open of beds. They took turns going to the bathroom. Anne, being the youngest, went first. Fritz stayed up late studying Spanish in the office downstairs. By about midnight, all of the people in the Secret Annex would be fast asleep.

On Saturday mornings, the warehouse workers would put in half a day’s work, but in the afternoons and on Sundays, the Secret Annex occupants took time for a full sponge baths in a tub, each in his or her own favorite spot in the building. The laundry was done then, too, and the Secret Annex was scrubbed and tidied. There were businesses located in the two adjacent buildings, so during the weekends, the occupants didn’t have to be quite so cautious. But the curtains always remained closed.”


More Curious about Who Was Who?
Five anecdotes behind the faces of the Secret Annex

• While everyone was assigned chores, Peter was instructed to haul the heavy bags from the greengrocer up to the attic. On one occasion, “one of them suddenly split open and a torrent of brown beans went cascading down the stairs. It was weeks before the last beans were found, they had been wedged into every nook and cranny of the stairwell.”

• The Annex’s Romeo and Juliet: Anne Frank’s roommate and the eldest occupant of the Secret Annex, Fritz Pfeffer - the only one without family or loved one at his side - was gripped with loneliness. His evenings were filled with writing letters to his “Lotte,” his great love Charlotte Kaletta, a Catholic woman whom he was forbidden to marry due to the Nuremberg Race Laws. He relied on Miep to serve as messenger to deliver the letters where he professed that Charlotte’s love will strengthen him.

• Miep was deemed the pack mule and carrier pigeon for the eight inhabitants of the Secret Annex. “Every Saturday, she also brought along five library books, which the Secret Annex occupants eagerly looked forward to. ‘Ordinary people don’t know how much books can mean to someone who’s cooped up,’ Anne wrote.”

• After the betrayal that led to the Secret Annex’s exposure and the inhabitants’ arrest, the ladies were sent to Westerbork transit camp where they “were forced to dismantle batteries, a dirty and dangerous business. The workday began at five o’clock in the morning. Seated at long tables, the women broke open batteries in order to remove the carbon rods. Then they picked out the sticky brown mass, which contained poisonous ammonium chloride. Finally, all the components were separated for use in the arms industry.”

• When Frank Otto, Anne’s father and lone survivor, returned to the Secret Annex, he “found the rooms practically empty and abandoned. For him, that emptiness symbolized the loss of his fellow sufferers who had not returned from the camps. For this reason, Otto later decided that the Secret Annex should remain this state.” 

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3. From the Backlist: An Eye for Color

An Eye for Color: the Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing; Art by Julia Breckenreid Henry Holt. 2009 ISBN: 9780805080728 Grades 2-12 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local public library. A few weeks ago, back in December 2015, I came up with an idea for an art program for the teen summer reading program: an exercise in color from the book, Local Color by Mimi

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4. Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story written and illustrated by S. D. Nelson

The last book I reviewed here, The Liberators,  was a novel about two friends who joined the Marines and serves in the Pacific theater.  Our Hero, the Ira Hayes Story is about a man who really did serve in those sames places - Vella LaVella, Bourgainville, and who ultimately became one of the heroes who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian, born on the Gila River Indian Reservation in a remote part of the northern Sonoran Desert in Arizona in 1923.  His family were poor farmer, working the land, but living without electricity or running water.  They had four sons, and Ira was the oldest.  He was quiet and shy, but always felt lonely and seemed to fit in with the other kids on the reservation or in the Phoenix Indian School when he was sent there.

But, while still in his teens, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war.  Ira felt it was his patriotic duty as an American to fight for his country and he joined the Marine Corps in August 1942 at age 19.  Sent to basic training in San Diego, Ira didn't experience the kind of segregation and low level jobs reserved for the African American soldiers because many believed that Native Americans were fierce warriors and so they trained with the white soldiers.

After basic training, Ira volunteered to train as a Paramarine.  Joining the military and going through such rigorous training seems for forge strong bonds of friendship among the soldiers, and it was in the Marines that Ira finally felt like he belonged.  Ira and his fellow Marines arrived in the Pacific theater in March 1943 and fought there for two years.  After the month long battle at Iwo Jima, Ira was one of six Marines who raised the flag over Mount Surabachi, a moment captured in a photograph by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal:

Iwo Jima - Ira Hayes is the last man on the left
Ira came home a true Native American hero, but civilian life wasn't easy for him.  Most of his buddies didn't survive the war and Ira found it difficult to be celebrated knowing the terrible price his buddies had paid.  And once again, Ira felt like an outside, not fitting in anywhere.  Ira became severely depressed, and started drinking heavily.  In 1955, at the age of 32, Ira Hayes passed away.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S. D. Nelson has written a very moving and insightful picture book for older readers about a real hero, showing us that even heroes aren't perfect.  He could have easily written the Ira Hayes story up to the flag raising at Iwo Jima, and left it at that, but instead he chose to continue and let his readers see that heroes are human and sometimes flawed.  Ira Hayes may have officially died of alcoholism, but I would say the loneliness, despair and depression were the real causes of his death.

Hayes' wartime experiences make up the majority of this book, but Nelson doesn't ignore his youth on the reservation and his time at the Indian School, giving us a clear picture of this very sensitive, isolated Pima Indian growing up in poverty, but surrounded by a loving family:
  

As you can see from the illustration above, Nelson's text is accompanied and complimented by his beautifully detailed acrylic illustrations using a widely varied palette of colors.  And be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book, where he includes a more detailed account of the life of Ira Hayes, as well as very useful Bibliography for further investigation.

You can find an extensive Quiet Hero Teacher's Guide provided by the publisher, Lee & Low.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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5. #800 – The Inventor’s Secret by Suzanne Slade & Jennifer Black Reinhardt

The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford Written by Suzanne Slade Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt Charlesbridge Publishing    9/08/2015 978-01-58089-667-2 32 pages   Ages 7—12 “Thomas was curious about electricity—invisible energy that flowed and stopped, sizzled and popped. “Henry was curious about engines—machines that chugged and purred, hiccupped and whirred. “When Thomas …

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6. Review: This Strange Wilderness

This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain. University of Nebraska Press. 2015. Library Copy. YALSA Nonfiction Finalist.

It's About: John James Audubon (1785 - 1851) wrote and illustrated The Birds of America, which contained almost 500 different birds, all shown life size and in full color.

This is the story of who Audubon was and his work.

The Good: While I was generally aware of Audubon, mostly it was because of his appearances in other YA books I've read, notably Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (my review) where some of those illustrations figure significantly into the plot; and The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Philip Hoose, about one bird in particular that was painted by Audubon.

Who knew that Audubon was born in Haiti and raised in France! I had no idea. I am not an animal person, so truth be told the birds itself didn't interest me, but the biography of Audubon fascinated me. He came to America as a teenager, sent by a father hoping to save his son from fighting in Napoleon's army. He fell in love with the new country, and there fully developed his passion for nature and birds and illustration.

The process of how Audubon drew his birds was also interesting; a combination of art and science. And yes, he killed the birds, so that he could then pose them to be lifelike. Which seems so weird to a modern reader, but this was before photographs. This was before any other way to truly study and draw the birds in a way to portray them fully. Audubon didn't just blunder along, shooting; he also studied the birds, learning about them, and wrote about his scientific findings. His writings also included his own journeys and adventures along the way. And, as a hunter, he was also an environmentalist because while he hunted for food, or for art, he also realized the danger of extinction.

If you'd asked me before I read this book about Audubon, I'd have guessed rich. And as the book begins it seems like there was truth to that, from his upbringing to the land in Pennsylvania that his father bought him. But he wasn't; and Audubon pursued his studies (which often meant travel) even when he didn't have much money. He drew portraits and taught drawing and did other things to support his dream of studying and drawing birds.

Audubon did this even though he had a wife and children. And at this point, the biography I want is of Lucy Audubon, who at times followed her husband to log cabins in Kentucky and to England; and at other times, stayed behind, earning the money to support her children while her husband followed his own dreams. Who was forced into independence while married, yet also strongly supported her husband.

And then of course there is the business end, of how Audubon's illustrations were transformed into a book. Again, in a time without computers; when each page had to be hand colored; when Audubon insisted that they remain life-size. "Subscriptions" were sold for the intended publications, and Audubon had to turn into a salesman to convince people to buy something that hadn't been published yet.

I love how this is all told in less than a hundred pages. I'm on a Regency Romance reading kick, and just checked out some thick, dense non-fiction of that period and wow, I wish at least one of them was a tidy hundred pages. (Also, it doesn't escape my notice that This Strange Wilderness occupies the same slice of time as the romances I've been reading.)

One more point, and perhaps the most important: there are many, many of Audubon's illustrations, all in full color. When reading about art, it really helps to be able to see it. And, also, now I'm intrigued to see the actual originals.





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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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7. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras  by Duncan Tonatiuh Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015 Grades 2-5 Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras was recently featured in our list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2015. The picture book biography introduces readers to an influential Mexican artist who began his work as a printer. Jose Guadalupe Posada worked as a printer

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8. #794 – Kid Athletes by David Stabler & Doogie Horner

Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends Series: Kid Legends Written by David Stabler Illustrated by Doogie Horner Quirk Books      11/17/2015 978-1-59474-802-8 208 pages      Ages 8—12 “Forget the gold medals, the championships, and the undefeated seasons. When all-star athletes were growing up, they had regular-kid problems just like you. …

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9. Many Ways to Use “I am” Poems!

Don't shy away from the formulaic "I am" poem! There are so many possibilities...

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10. Something of myself: the early life of Rudyard Kipling

‘My first impression is of daybreak, light and colour and golden and purple fruits at the level of my shoulder.’ With this beautiful sentence, so characteristic in its fusion of poetry and physical, bodily detail, Rudyard Kipling evokes the fruit-market in Bombay, the city (now Mumbai) where he was born in 1865.

The post Something of myself: the early life of Rudyard Kipling appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Sally Ride: a photography of America’s pioneering woman in space by Tam O’Shaughnessy

Sally Ride: a photography of America’s pioneering woman in space Tam O’Shaughnessy Roaring Brook Press. 2015 ISBN: 9781596439948 Grades 6-12 I received a copy of this book from the publisher This review reflects my own opinion and not that of the 2015 Cybils Committee. The story of Sally Ride is lovingly shared by her friend and life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy. The two met when

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12. Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple

Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye  by Samantha Seiple Scholastic Press. 2015 ISBN: 9780545708975 I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. Grades 6-12 This review reflects my opinion and not that of the Cybils YA Nonfiction Committee Over the centuries, immigrants have enriched our (American) culture and Allan Pinkerton was no exception.

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13. In Thanks: Books That Built a Writing Teacher

What are the books that have shaped you as a teacher of writing? Reflecting today, in thanks, for the authors and books that have influenced my life as a teacher.

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14. The phosphene dreams of a young Christian soldier

On a blustery St. Martin’s Eve in 1619, a twenty-three year old French gentleman soldier in the service of Maximilian of Bavaria was billeted near Ulm, Germany. Having recently quit his military service under Maurice of Nassau, he was new to the Bavarian army and a stranger to the area.

The post The phosphene dreams of a young Christian soldier appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Who Is Ira Aldridge?

Our new children’s book, Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, tells the incredible story of Ira Aldridge. When we’ve shown this book to readers, we get one of two responses:
1) “I’ve never heard of Ira Aldridge.”
2) “You have a book about Ira Aldridge??! That’s so wonderful!”

The truth is, bringing Ira’s story to new readers is one of our great joys as a publisher. His is a story of phenomenal talent and determination, of someone who was truly born to do what he did. Too often, history has let the achievements of black people fall through the cracks–especially when they take place outside the narrative of slavery and civil rights. If you look at the African American biographies that appear most often, so many of them are focused on names we already know: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass. While it is important to remember these people and their achievements, acknowledging the contributions of black people in other arenas–art, music, science, and in this case, Shakespearean acting–is equally important. 

So: who was Ira Aldridge?

Ira Aldridge was born July 27, 1807, in New York City. As a child, he attended the African Free School, a school established for the children of free African Americans and slaves. During that time, Aldrige would observe plays from high up in the balcony of the Park Theatre.

ira spread
Young Ira at the Park Theatre (image from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream)

Ira always loved Shakespeare. His acting career began in his teens, where he acted at the African Grove Theatre, the first resident African American theatre in the United States. Ira dreamed of performing Shakespeare one day on the stage of the Park Theatre. But black actors were not welcome there.

from Ira's Shakespeare Dream
from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s father, a church minister, tried to dissuade his son from pursuing acting. He encouraged him to become a minister or teacher, but Ira was determined to pursue his dream. At the age of 17, Ira headed to England as a valet for another actor to try his hand at acting. There, he found work running errands for small theaters and became an understudy for other actors.

When Ira finally got his chance to debut, his performance was met with mixed reviews. While some praised his acting, others did not like seeing a black actor onstage playing “white roles.” But Ira was not discouraged. He worked hard, studied acting, and gradually became known for his talented performances in a variety of roles. Later on, he toured United Kingdom, spending many years performing the lead roles in Othello, Macbeth and Richard III. Ira was most famous for his role as the titular Othello, which he first played at the age of 26. He was the first black actor to play Othello on the English stage.

Image of Ira Aldridge in a production of “Titus Andronicus”

Despite the fame he gained, Ira never forgot the plight of the enslaved African Americans in the United States. He would sometimes come out at the close of his performances to sit on the edge of the stage, preaching to the audience about the injustice of slavery. He used his performances to raise money to send to abolitionists fighting to end slavery in the United States.

Ira Aldridge toured around Europe and earned great acclaim for his performances. In 1858, the duke of Saxe-Meiningen granted him knighthood. He is the only African American actor listed among the 33 actors honored with plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The theater at Howard University in Washington, DC is named after him.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Learn more about Ira Aldridge in Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Additional resources:

Read an interview with author Glenda Armand
View and download the free Teacher’s Guide

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16. The flirtatious friendship of Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Church hits Broadway

Theatergoers have been dazzled by the new Broadway hit Hamilton, and not just by its titular lead: the Schuyler women often steal the show. While Alexander Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton provides heart and pathos, her sister Angelica Schuyler Church is sassy, witty, and flirtatious.

The post The flirtatious friendship of Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Church hits Broadway appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. New Mentor Texts for Information Writing + Book Giveaways

The books featured in this post, all of which were published in 2015, represent a variety of information writing. All of these are texts that can pull double- and even triple-duty in your classroom, thereby allowing you to use a text during read-aloud time so you can revisit it during a writing workshop minlesson and/or in a content area.

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18. #764 – George Ferris’ Grand Idea: The Ferris Wheel by Jenna Glatzer and Stephanie Dominguez

George Ferris’ Grand Idea: The Ferris Wheel Series: The Story Behind the Name Written by Jenna Glatzer Illustrated by Stephanie Dominguez Picture Window Books    8/01/2015 978-1-4795-7161-1 32 pages    Age 7—10 “You’ve heard of a Ferris wheel (you’ve probably even ridden one!), but do you know who designed the first one? Who had the idea? …

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19. Fur, Fins, and Feathers by Cassandre Maxwell

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20. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton  bu Don Tate Peachtree, 2015 ISBN: 978-1-56145-825-7 Grades K-5 The reviewer received a galley from the publisher. Earlier this year Louise reviewed The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate. Peachtree recently published a gorgeous picture book biography written and illustrated by Don Tate. Poet: The

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21. The Courage to Act

In this extraordinary story of politics and the people, the former chair of the Federal Reserve offers an insider's account of the cataclysmic financial crisis of 2007 and the extraordinary effort of the Fed and the Treasury Department to buoy the U.S. and world economies, preventing further catastrophe. Books mentioned in this post The Courage [...]

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22. Charles Williams: Oxford’s lost poetry professor

It was strikingly appropriate that Sir Geoffrey Hill should have focused his final lecture as Oxford Professor of Poetry on a quotation from Charles Williams. Not only was the lecture, in May 2015, delivered almost exactly seventy years after Williams’s death; but Williams himself had once hoped to become Professor of Poetry.

The post Charles Williams: Oxford’s lost poetry professor appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Untamed, The Wild Life of Jane Goodall – Book Recommendation

As regular readers of my blog know, one of my passions is the conservation of our planet and all its species, and today’s post returns to that theme. There is only one of my childhood heroes that followed me into … Continue reading

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24. Admiral Nelson in letters

This year, on 21st October, marks the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle was between the British Royal Navy, led by Admiral Lord Nelson, and the combined French and Spanish fleets led by French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve. The most decisive victory of the Napoleonic Wars, this battle ensured Nelson’s place as one of Britain’s greatest war heroes.

The post Admiral Nelson in letters appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. In search of Thomas Smith Grimké’s portrait

Most biographers would agree that it is difficult to write about someone whose face you have never seen. When I set out to write a biographical entry on Thomas Smith Grimké (1786-1834) for the American National Biography Online, I confronted that challenge.

The post In search of Thomas Smith Grimké’s portrait appeared first on OUPblog.

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