Illustrated History - Melting Pot
I’m always on the hunt for books that help me research my favorite topics and time periods. As a visual learner, I literally *squee* with joy when I find nonfiction loaded with illustrations, etchings, and photographs. There is most definitely something about a photograph, in particular, that allows me to immerse myself in the emotions and events of the past.
My selections, this month, eloquently depict the complex convergence of history, people, and politics that helped shape the world in which we live.
The Art of the Affair eloquently illustrates the tangled and complex relationships of the literary, art, and music world from the 1800’s to the early 2000’s. Meticulously researched, you’ll learn interesting tidbits like Marilyn Monroe was an early fan of Ella Fitzgerald and F. Scott Fitzgerald stole entire passages of work from his wife, Zelda.
WOW – there was a lot of bed hopping mixed in with politics and culture. I tried hard not to judge the folks featured in this book based purely on the small paragraph of information provided about their lives. I will say that it was fascinating to see how what I perceived to be petty rivalries influenced cultures around the world.
The illustrations alone make this book well worth your time. (Some of the portraits are stunning. At first glance they seem simplistic, but upon further inspection they truly seem to capture the essence of the person.) This book is a great casual read and an even greater conversation starter.
The Art of the Affair by Catherine Lacey and Forsyth Harmon
A vibrantly illustrated chain of entanglements (romantic and otherwise) between some of our best-loved writers and artists of the twentieth century--fascinating, scandalous, and surprising.
Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of AnaÃ¯s Nin . . . whom he later bedded. And so it goes, the long chain of love, affections, and artistic influences among writers, musicians, and artists that weaves its way through the The Art of the Affair--from Frida Kahlo to Colette to Hemingway to Dali; from Coco Chanel to Stravinsky to Miles Davis to Orson Welles.
Scrupulously researched but playfully prurient, cleverly designed and colorfully illustrated, it's the perfect gift for your literary lover--and the perfect read for any good-natured gossip-monger.
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery is one of the most powerful works I’ve come across in my research. Pictures of slaves with their master’s families, freed slaves with their own families, black military personnel, and freemen communities are provided with context and stories to weave the complicated tapestry that was emancipation. This book is important work, dear reader, and I would like to personally thank Ms. Willis and Ms. Krauthamer for their tireless efforts to produce this awesome study of American history.
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer
The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important documents in American history. As we commemorate its 150th anniversary, what do we really know about those who experienced slavery?
In their pioneering book, Envisioning Emancipation, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs—some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration.
Envisioning Emancipation illustrates what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images in this book challenge perceptions of slavery. They show not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery and marked its end.
Filled with powerful images of lives too often ignored or erased from historical records, Envisioning Emancipation provides a new perspective on American culture.
I found Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl in the children’s section of one of my favorite bookstores. Based on an unpublished and unfinished memoir, Ms. Bolden does a superb job of capturing what life was like for a free black child born into an upper-middle class family. Her parents owned a boarding house that was part of the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglas was her great-uncle and Maritcha’s godfather traveled to Scotland and graduated from the University of Glasgow so that he could fulfill his dream of being a doctor.
It is the lives of wealthy and upper-middle class blacks before, during, and just after the Civil War that have fallen through the cracks of history. YES, they existed. YES, they more than survived – they thrived despite the obstacles placed in front of them and their lives are fascinating.
These are the stories we so rarely hear in American history classes. These are the stories of everyday people who fought to be successful, build strong communities, and help each other live full lives.
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden
This Coretta Scott King Honor Book provides a much-needed window into a little-documented time in black history. The poignant story, based on the memoir of Maritcha Rémond Lyons, shows what it was like to be a black child born free and living in New York City in the mid-1800s.
My To Be Read Pile:
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s books came HIGHLY recommended to me by a dear friend. They are both sitting on my nightstand!
Wench: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.
Balm: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The New York Times bestselling author of Wench returns to the Civil War era to explore the next chapter of history—the trauma of the War and the end of slavery—in this powerful story of love and healing about three people who struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future.
The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.
Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.
Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.
Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.
In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.
Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.