Category Archives: Books

Like books? So do we. The Memorial Library captures something unique of the history and culture of the American people. While our collection covers all the bases, we’ve also got some unexpected gems – and we’re always refining our stock. Want to keep abreast of the newest arrivals, the timeless classics, the downright quirky? Read on.

Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England

By Danielle Prostrollo

9781898015284

East Anglia’s Norfolk connections to America are well documented, and the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library maintains a blog devoted to exactly that. Some of the most famous are facts such as, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Heacham’s John Rolfe married Native American Pocahontas, and Abraham Lincoln’s ancestral home is in Hingham. But these are only the start of Colonial America’s reliance on the area for its good… and bad!

In the book Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England: From Colonial Times Onwards by Roger Pugh, many of the lesser-known connections are discussed including the following:

Ancestral home of President Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge’s ancestors John and Mary were from Cottonham, Cambridgeshire. John Coolidge employed an economy of words similar to that which his famous descendant, Calvin, is known for. In the book, Pugh says that John once replied to an invitation: “Dear Gentlemen.  Can’t come. Thank you.” The Coolidges travelled to Massachusetts in 1630.

Harley-Davidson Motorbikes
William S. Harley, one half of the famous motorcycle brand, was born to parents William and Mary of Littleport, Cambridgeshire. So while Milwaukee, Wisconsin lays claim to being the home of Harley-Davidson, it is from Littleport that the Harley family came!

The Girls from Great Yarmouth and the Witches of Salem
Mary and Rebecca Towne, born in Great Yarmouth to William and Joanna Towne, are two of the many women who were tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Their sister Sarah, also born to William and Joanna, was born in Salem and eventually tried for witchcraft. Mary and Rebecca would be found guilty and eventually executed while Sarah eventually gained her freedom after the guilty verdict.

 

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To find out more about the East Anglia connection to America, check out Roger Pugh’s book at the Memorial Library or visit our (other) blog!

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Books, Memorial Library, Online Resources

The 2017 Charles Walker Memorial Lecture

By Danielle Prostrollo

Charles Walker, decorated B-24 Liberator pilot for the 445th Bomb Group at Tibbenham, was an active supporter of the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library throughout his life. In memory of his life and support, a yearly lecture is organised as a joint effort between the 2nd Air Division Memorial Trust and the Department of American Studies at the University of East Anglia which is titled the Charles Walker Memorial Lecture.

Each year a guest speaker, specialising in different facets of American histories and culture, is invited to Norwich for the annual Charles Walker Memorial Lecture. This year we are anxiously awaiting Professor Susan Castillo Street’s talk titled The Dark Side of Paradise: 21st Century Florida Gothic in Carl Hiaasen and Karen Russell. The money for this annual lecture is lovingly donated in Chuck’s memory by his widow Dr Dede Casad.

The evening will, no doubt, delve into each author’s depictions of modern Florida and those wanting to become more acquainted with the material (or simply refresh their memory) can pick up or reserve a copy of your favourite Hiaasen or Swamplandia by Russell from Norfolk libraries.

Please join us for an afternoon with Professor Castillo Street whether you are a well-read fan of the authors or are simply interested in learning more about American literature. The event is free and no booking is necessary.

Charles Walker Lecture (13-11-17)

 

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Book review: Hope in the Dark

By Danielle Prostrollo

hope in the dark

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Solnit is perhaps most famous for her book Men Explain Things to Me which birthed the phrase “mansplaining” to describe a man that speaks condescendingly to someone (usually a woman) about a topic he does not necessarily know a great deal about (see: Merriam-Webster’s history of mansplaining). And because of this, I have come to know Solnit as an activist, feminist, and essayists.

Hope in the Dark was written in 2003 shortly after the start of the Iraq war, when the 9/11 attacks were still very fresh and tender in the mind of America, but covers several events from the (relatively) recent past: Zapatistas in Mexico, the Central Park protests for nuclear disarmament, the Berlin Wall. The thread that binds all of these events and essays together is an underlying reason to believe in the human spirit which makes this a great read for anyone fatigued by the news each night and finds themselves in a place of unease.

Our copy is a 2016 edition with a new forward written by Solnit and even just within the first few pages there is fuel for a realistic hope dotted throughout:

“It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings” (p. xi-xii).

“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons” (p. ix).

“Hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal…” (p. 4).

To reserve Hope in the Dark and to explore our stock of social action and American history books of an array of topics, visit us in the Memorial Library!

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Filed under American Culture, American History, American Politics, Books, Current Events, Uncategorized

Who is Lois Lane?

By Danielle Prostrollo

ILL_1

With the success of the recent Wonder Woman film, I found myself drawn to the ‘other’ famous first lady of comic books – Lois Lane. Tim Hanley, comic book historian, has published a couple of great books on both Wonder Woman and Lois Lane, so I picked up Investigating Lois Lane in the Memorial Library. The book is such a great history of Lane as a character, a cultural icon, and measure of societal opinion that I’ve added a few brief bits that I found interesting both from the book and a bit of extra digging that the book inspired.

Lane has had an interesting history that volleys between plot device to a reasonably fleshed out character (at least, reasonably fleshed out for her time). Her complicated history includes the accomplishment of having her own comic book, Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane and a qualifier on that accomplishment, that her greatest ambition was not a front page scoop, but to marry Superman.

As a character, she often took unnecessary risks or acted without thinking. After rifling through a box of space artefacts she was told not to touch, she developed Kryptonite vision which, of course, caused Superman a great deal of pain and he angrily called her a “little idiot” and told her to get lost. What we later find out is, she didn’t actually have Kryptonite vision and Superman faked his injury in order to teach her a lesson.

DC eventually recruited their first female editor, Dorothy Woolfolk, to take over the ‘lady’ titles (Wonder Woman and Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane). She gave Lane a brief time placed squarely in the first-wave feminist movement: Lane broke up with Superman to concentrate on reporting stories she was passionate about. This didn’t last long, after only a hand full of issues Woolfolk was taken off the title and Superman’s Girl Friend was rolled into another.

In the radio universe, Lane had several iterations. In my opinion, Joan Alexander was the most fascinating. She was the 3rd woman to voice Lois. But when she was fired, she showed up to the auditions for her replacement in a wig, won the role back, and continued to voice Lois for several more seasons.

Alexander’s Lane had a tenacious go-get ‘em nature and often went ahead to catch a scoop despite the dangers of the job, which hinted at the independence of Lane and forward-thinking view of a woman’s role for the time. But so often the scenario ended up with Lois trapped and in peril, waiting for Superman to come and save her from an untimely demise.

 

Some other interesting links relating to Lois Lane and women in comics:
http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/32942226462/llfeminist

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/03/14/gendercrunching-january-2017-counting-lead-female-characters-at-marvel-and-dc/

http://sequart.org/magazine/63773/the-complicated-legacies-of-wonder-woman-and-lois-lane/

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Books, Memorial Library, Uncategorized