If you turn on the news lately, you would seriously think our country is falling apart. Between the economy and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the immigration issues and government infighting, things are discouraging. But perhaps the upcoming Fourth of July holiday is an important reminder of what our country is really about, and time to reflect, between bites of potato salad and watermelon, just how very lucky we are. When you are out picking up last minute sparklers and hot dog buns, swing by East Side Books to browse through some of the following titles to help get you into a patriotic mood.
A perfect starting place is the Colonial America and Revolution shelves of our extensive history section. Check out Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow for an extensive biography of this important American figure. Chernow writes that Hamilton was the “prophet of capitalist” and the most “impactful and influential American to never gained the presidency.” Also in this section is A Few Bloody Noses by Robert Harvey, a controversial, myth busting tome that turns many American Revolution myths on their heads.
We have a great Presidents section. Some popular titles are John Adams by David McCullough, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, and My Life by Bill Clinton. If you haven’t read All the President’s Men by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, pick up a copy of the story responsible for unleashing the Nixon Watergate scandal and toppling a president. Eastside Books also has a whole section devoted to books about John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Let these great men inspire your own greatness.
But America wasn’t built just on the backs of men. In our General America section you will find America’s Women: 400 years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins. This lively, enjoyable, and highly readable book traces the history of American women, highlights some important female figures, and is rich with inspirational quotes. Also in this section you can find The Story of American Freedom by Eric Foner. Foner gives an interesting historical perspective of what it means to be free to seek the American dream from the Colonial days to the Reagan era.
If browsing these sections on early American history get you fired up, be sure to check out our wide variety of books in the Slavery, Immigrants, 1900’s, Depression, and Civil Rights sections.
Regardless of your position on the use of military force, there is no denying that the freedoms gained and preserved in our country were achieved on the lives of our women and men in armed service. We have an extensive War section covering WWI and WWII, Vietnam, the Korean War, and the Middle East conflict–because sometimes we need to read to remember and to learn. In this section you can find Black Hawk Down by journalist Mark Bowden. This “nonfiction novel” is his account of the U.S. mission to Somelia that went terribly wrong. This book has been dubbed a modern military classic and was made into a movie. (Read the book first!!) Another book of war that you do not want to miss is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Vietnam veteran O’Brien writes a gripping part memoir, part novel, part short story collection about his military experience. This book is truly unforgettable and can be found in our Fiction section.
Sometimes the most helpful reminder of the tremendous freedoms we do enjoy here in the United States is to read the stories of those from other countries who don’t have the same liberties. Nowhere seems more oppressed right now than the country of Afghanistan. Check out Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea about his mission to build schools in neighboring Pakistan. Although they are novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini give a gripping account of life in Afghanistan. Both are beautifully written as well as powerful and memorable—not to be missed. In our memoir section pick up the very readable Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of Cultural Revolution by Ji-Li Jiang and A Long Way to Go: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. If you want a book that will truly change how you see your life, read Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.
If you have any questions or need help locating any of the above titles, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our staff members. We are also happy to place special orders.
From all of us at East Side Books, have a happy and safe Fourth of July!