We’ve partnered with Tantor Media for audio book editions of the following titles!
We Gotta Get Out of This Place
In We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. They explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the World back home. They also demonstrate that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans—Black and white, Latino and Native American, men and women, officers and “grunts”—whose personal reflections drive the book’s narrative. Many of the voices are those of ordinary soldiers, airmen, seamen, and marines. There are also “solo” pieces by veterans whose writings have shaped our understanding of the war—Karl Marlantes, Alfredo Vea, Yusef Komunyakaa, Bill Ehrhart, and Arthur Flowers. Together their testimony taps into memories—individual and cultural—that capture a central aspect of the American war in Vietnam.
The Combat Zone
At the end of the 1976 football season, more than forty Harvard athletes went to Boston’s Combat Zone to celebrate. In the city’s adult entertainment district, drugs and prostitution ran rampant, violent crime was commonplace, and corrupt police turned the other way. At the end of the night, Italian American star athlete Andy Puopolo, raised in the city’s North End, was murdered in a stabbing. Three African American men were accused of the crime. His murder made national news and led to the eventual demise of the city’s red-light district.
Starting with this brutal murder, The Combat Zone tells the story of the Puopolo family’s struggle with both a devastating loss and a criminal justice system that produced two trials with opposing verdicts, all within the context of a racially divided Boston. Jan Brogan traces the contentious relationship between Boston’s segregated neighborhoods during the busing crisis; shines a light on a court system that allowed lawyers to strike potential jurors based purely on their racial or ethnic identity; and lays bare the deep-seated corruption within the police department and throughout the Combat Zone. What emerges is a fascinating snapshot of the city at a transitional moment in its recent past.
A Union Like Ours
After a chance meeting aboard the ocean liner Paris in 1924, Harvard University scholar and activist F. O. Matthiessen and artist Russell Cheney fell in love and remained inseparable until Cheney’s death in 1945. During the intervening years, the men traveled throughout Europe and the United States, achieving professional success while contending with serious troubles, including addiction and severe depression.
Years into their relationship, Matthiessen confided to Cheney that “never once has the freshness of your life lost any trace of its magic for me. Every day is a new discovery of your wealth.” Situating the couple’s private correspondence alongside other sources, Scott Bane tells the remarkable story of their relationship in the context of changes within the United States. From the vantage point of the present day, with marriage equality enacted into law, Bane provides a window into the realities faced by same-sex couples in the early twentieth century, as they maintained relationships in the face of overt discrimination and the absence of legal protections.
The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the spring of 1871, Ralph Waldo Emerson boarded a train in Concord, Massachusetts, bound for a month-and-a-half-long tour of California—an interlude that became one of the highlights of his life. On their journey across the American West, he and his companions would take in breathtaking vistas in the Rockies and along the Pacific Coast, speak with a young John Muir in the Yosemite Valley, stop off in Salt Lake City for a meeting with Brigham Young, and encounter a diversity of communities and cultures that would challenge their Yankee prejudices.
Based on original research employing newly discovered documents, The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson maps the public story of this group’s travels onto the private story of Emerson’s final years, as aphasia set in and increasingly robbed him of his words. Engaging and compelling, this travelogue makes it clear that Emerson was still capable of wonder, surprise, and friendship, debunking the presumed darkness of his last decade.
Home before Morning
Lynda Van Devanter was the girl next door, a cheerleader and athlete who was close to her four sisters and parents. After high school she attended nursing school and then did something that would shape the rest of her life: in 1969, she joined the army and was shipped to Vietnam. When she arrived in Vietnam her idealistic view of the war vanished quickly. She worked long hours in cramped, ill-equipped operating rooms. She saw friends die. She operated on soldiers and civilians with catastrophic injuries.
After one traumatic year, she came home, a Vietnam veteran. At home, nothing was the same—including Lynda herself. Viewed by many as a murderer instead of a healer, she felt isolated and angry, and became deeply depressed. Working in hospitals brought back chilling scenes of hopelessly wounded soldiers. A marriage ended in divorce. The war that was halfway around the world became a personal, internal battle.
Home before Morning is the compelling autobiography of a woman of courage and stamina. It is also the saga of others who went to war to aid the wounded and came back wounded themselves. It is the gripping story of one person’s triumphs: her understanding of, and coming to terms with, her destiny.
Race in the Crucible of War
When African American servicemen went to fight in the Vietnam War, discrimination and prejudice followed them. Even in a faraway country, their military experiences were shaped by the racial environment of the home front. War is often viewed as a crucible that can transform society, but American race relations proved remarkably durable.
In Race in the Crucible of War, Gerald F. Goodwin examines how Black servicemen experienced and interpreted racial issues during their time in Vietnam. Drawing on more than fifty new oral interviews and significant archival research, as well as newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, and documentaries, Goodwin reveals that for many African Americans the front line and the home front were two sides of the same coin. Serving during the same period as the civil rights movement and the race riots in Chicago, Detroit, and dozens of other American cities, these men increasingly connected the racism that they encountered in the barracks and on the battlefields with the tensions and violence that were simmering back home.
When Willard M. Kiplinger launched the groundbreaking Kiplinger Washington Letter in 1923, he left traditional journalism to strike out on his own. With a specialized knowledge of finance and close connections to top Washington officials, Kiplinger was uniquely positioned to tell deeper truths about the intersections between government and business. With careful reporting and insider access, he delivered perceptive analysis and forecasts of business, economic, and political news to busy business executives, and the newsletter’s readership grew exponentially over the coming decades.
More than just a pioneering business journalist, Kiplinger emerged as a quiet but powerful link between the worlds of Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt, and used his Letter to play a little-known but influential role in the New Deal. Part journalism history, part biography, and part democratic chronicle, The Insider offers a well-written and deeply researched portrayal of how Kiplinger not only developed a widely read newsletter that launched a business publishing empire but also how he forged a new role for the journalist as political actor.
Barb Matheson doesn’t fit in: not on the Standing Rock Reservation where her mother was born; not at the mission in rural Ethiopia where she grew up; and certainly not at the Pennsylvania church where her husband preaches. Expansive and lyrical, Unfollowers is a tale of religious angst, unrequited love, and the upheaval of racial and economic privilege. Equally adrift on both sides of the Atlantic, Barb must negotiate the distance between white America and Africa, between the spirituality of her ancestors and the straight tones of evangelicalism, and between rules and grace. When a former lover crashes her daughter’s third birthday party, she’s offered the chance to find her way home to Ethiopia, leaving her to choose between a rote life in America and an improvised life abroad.