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In This Issue

March 2023
2min read

Michael S. Durham, author of “Mound Country,” recently wrote Guide to Ancient Native American Sites , which catalogues nearly 150 archeological locations (Globe Pequot Press, 260 pages). “The story didn’t come alive for me,” he writes, “until I was able to go and see for myself: to climb the mounds, hike through canyons to cliff dwellings and stand on ledges gazing at images chipped into the rock face by prehistoric artists.” The book maps the sites state by state and provides useful phone numbers and contacts. For another good guide to mound country, try Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Adena and Ohio Hopewell Sites by Susan L. Woodward and Jerry N. McDonald (McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 130 pages). At one time, the authors tell us, eastern North America may have held as many as several hundred thousand mounds and earthworks in various levels of concentration and complexity; only in the last two centuries did most of them give way to modern civilization. This book features forty-one sites, with maps, travelers’ information, and photographs of once-buried treasures.

The Lincoln Highway, subject of Philip Langdon’s affectionate essay, is covered in greater historical detail in The Lincoln Highway: Main Street Across America , by Drake Hokanson (University of Iowa Press, 160 pages). To find out more, write the newly reborn Lincoln Highway Association at RR 1, Box 73, Jefferson, IA 50129; its telephone number is 515-386-4521. Its annual June conference will be held this year in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Anyone intrigued by Diana Ketcham’s description of the picturesque garden just outside Paris that so impressed Thomas Jefferson will enjoy her book Le Désert de Retz (MIT Press, 134 pages). With a well-researched text, period illustrations, and recent photographs by the noted landscape photographer Michael Kenna, the book makes the scope and intent of this complex architectural conceit intelligible to modern viewers. Built on the eve of the French Revolution, the hundred-acre garden contained twenty follies recapitulating the history of world architecture. For the past several decades the garden has been neglected, its structures overgrown with weeds, with the result, Ketcham writes, that “what the eighteenth century devised as an artificial ruin became in the twentieth century a literal one.” It has recently been restored and is the only one of France’s late-eighteenth-century picturesque gardens that remain in anything resembling their original forms. Ketcham also recommends Howard C. Rice, Jr.’s classic study Thomas Jefferson’s Paris (Princeton University Press, 156 pages), which shows in words and engravings the city that dazzled the future President from the time of his arrival in 1784.

Jack Kelly, whose story on gangster-era Chicago features the notorious Al Capone, recommends Robert J. Schoenberg’s Mr. Capone (Quill/Morrow, 480 pages) as the finest of all Scarface biographies.

If you want to know more after reading Paul G. Labadie’s account of his visit to the replica Alamo that John Wayne built for his 1960 movie, try Donald Clark and Christopher Andersen’s book John Wayne’s The Alamo: The Making of the Epic Film (Carol Publishing Group, 172 pages). The book should satisfy the Duke’s and Davy Crockett’s fans alike.

Geoffrey C. Ward discusses in his column “The Life and Times” the edition he has prepared of the revealing and heartfelt diaries of Daisy Suckley, Franklin Roosevelt’s confidante and distant cousin. It is out this month, as Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley (Houghton Mifflin, 430 pages).

John Steele Gordon’s April column “The Business of America” grew out of his fondness for Jerome Kern, of whom no biographies but plenty of recordings are currently in print, including one of the “lost” Kern musical Sittin’ Pretty . Although it was a hit in the twenties, Sittin’ Pretty was never recorded until this decade—first because Kern banned its performance anywhere but in a live theater and later because the full score was buried for years with other manuscripts in an old Warner Brothers film studio in Secaucus, New Jersey. In 1990 it was faithfully recorded by John McGlin for New World Records (80387-2, two CDs).

In “American Characters” Gene Smith this month revisits one of his early literary idols, James T. Farrell and finds that the critics were right: He said everything he had to say in Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy Comprising “Young Lonigan,” “The Manhood of Studs Lonigan,” and “Judgment Day” (University of Illinois Press, 912 pages).

We hope you enjoy our work.

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Stories published from "April 1995"

Authored by: Paul G. Labadie

If you want to visit the relic itself, you must go to San Antonio. But to get the feel of what it was like for Crockett and Travis and the rest, you should drive west into the Texas prairie.

Authored by: Diana Ketcham

The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew.

Authored by: Michael S. Durham

Elaborate earthworks engineered two thousand years ago by an impenetrably mysterious people still stand in astonishing abundance throughout the Ohio River Valley

Authored by: The Editors

FDR’s Splendid Deception

Authored by: The Editors

Prodigal Soldiers How the Generation of Officers Born of Vietnam Revolutionized the American Style of War

Authored by: The Editors

Terrible Honesty Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s

Authored by: The Editors

Emerson The Mind on Fire

Authored by: The Editors

The R&B Box 30 Years of Rhythm and Blues

Authored by: The Editors

An American City Through Time

Authored by: The Editors

Over My Dead Body The Sensational Age of the American Paperback: 1945–1955

Featured Articles

Famous writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts turned Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into our country’s first conservation project.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.

Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.