Robert M. Poole’s history of Arlington National Cemetery, On Hallowed Ground (Walker, $28), intertwines the often poignant stories of some of the 300,000 soldiers, jurists, presidents, and scientists laid to rest there with America’s martial history since the Civil War. The site itself testifies to the nation’s war-torn past: once the family plantation of Robert E. Lee, it served as a Union headquarters after Lee switched his allegiance to the Confederacy. The 360-acre estate was also used as a haven for freed slaves and a burial ground for indigent soldiers before Secretary of War Stanton, adopting the idea from Union General Montgomery Meigs, officially established it as part of a national cemetery system. Poole, author of Explorers House and a contributing editor at Smithsonian, has produced a deeply felt and thoroughly researched book.

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802715487
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Walker & Company - November 11th, 2009

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802715494
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - November 8th, 2010

Enlisting her research skills as a historian and her rhetorical arguments as a lawyer, Annette Gordon-Reed has written The Hemingses Of Monticello (W.W. Norton, $35),  a revolutionary book that successfully topples the received wisdom of the white-male-historian establishment for two centuries.  Such scholars as Dumas Malone and Joseph Ellis, who has since recanted, had rejected out-of-hand the possibility of any sexual relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings or of the issue of any progeny. In refuting their rejections, Gordon-Reed builds on the 1997 DNA evidence of one instance of racial mixing between the Hemingses and the Jeffersons, but the strength of her argument resides in the rich oral histories she has uncovered in her research of African-American primary sources. These freshly discovered papers not only enrich our knowledge of the world of Monticello, but also of the development of slavery in Virginia during the 18th century.  Gordon-Reed’s work is a milestone in historiography and has been nominated for the National Book Award.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393064773
Availability: Backordered
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 2008

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393337761
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 8th, 2009

In Giants: The Parallel Lives Of Frederick Douglass And Abraham Lincoln (Twelve, $30), John Stauffer, Chair of the American Civilization Department at Harvard, writes that Lincoln and Douglass “led strikingly parallel lives.” They read from the same core of books: Shakespeare and English poetry. They were both “dazzling orators” (back before such activity became suspect). Stauffer shows that the difference between being born in bondage to another man and being born the son of a very poor white man is greater than Lincoln thought when he was young. But there were similarities: both men were denied a formal education, both had to do hard manual labor for a living. While Douglass never knew who his father was, Lincoln did not love or respect his father. Stauffer writes about the development of these men’s ideas and their rise to political heights, but he resists the temptation to tell all. The book is remarkably compact with 300 pages of text and, Lincoln lovers take note, almost 100 pages of footnotes.

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln Cover Image
ISBN: 9780446698986
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Twelve - November 12th, 2009