5 Books Before the Fireworks

Fireworks burst into brilliant arcs of light overhead, a parade of bellowing trains leave candy in their wake, and the Star-Spangled Banner waves proudly from every homestead. It’s the Fourth of July! To celebrate this occasion, we’ve put together a reading list for the season. Ever wanted to learn more about our founding fathers? How about the unsung men and women who contributed to the Revolution? Whatever your area of interest may be, you’re sure to find an engaging and educational title on this list. Curl up in a nice and cozy spot under the glow of the fireworks, pick up one of these books, and celebrate the birth of America with a great new read!

1. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis

From Penguin Random House, 2002

In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award-winning author of American Sphinx explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.

The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers–re-examined here as Founding Brothers–combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes–Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence–Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.

2. The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States by Gordon S. Wood

From Penguin Random House, 2012

The preeminent historian of the Founding Era reflects on the birth of American nationhood and explains why the American Revolution remains so essential.

For Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood, the American Revolution is the most important event in our history, bar none. Since American identity is so fluid, we have had to continually return to our nation’s founding to understand who we are. In a series of illuminating essays, he explores the ideological origins of the Revolution—from Ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment—and the founders’ attempts to forge a democracy. He reflects on the origins of American exceptionalism, the radicalism and failed hopes of the founding generation, and the “terrifying gap” between us and the men who created the democratic state we take for granted. This is a profoundly revealing look at the event that forged the United States and its enduring power to define us.

3. Black Americans in the Revolutionary Era: A Brief History with Documents by Woody Holton

From Macmillan, 2009

In this fresh look at liberty and freedom in the Revolutionary era from the perspective of black Americans, Woody Holton recounts the experiences of slaves who seized freedom by joining the British as well as those— lave and free—who served in Patriot military forces. Holton’s introduction examines the conditions of black American life on the eve of colonial independence and the ways in which Revolutionary rhetoric about liberty provided African Americans with the language and inspiration for advancing their cause. Despite the rhetoric, however, most black Americans remained enslaved after the Revolution. The introduction outlines ways African Americans influenced the course of the Revolution and continued to be affected by its aftermath. Amplifying these themes are nearly forty documents—including personal narratives, petitions, letters, poems, advertisements, pension applications, and images—that testify to the diverse goals and actions of African Americans during the Revolutionary era. Document headnotes and annotations, a chronology, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and index offer additional pedagogical support.

4. Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence by Carol Berkin

From Penguin Random House, 2006

The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed, and danger into the life of every American. In this groundbreaking history, Carol Berkin shows us how women played a vital role throughout the conflict.
The women of the Revolution were most active at home, organizing boycotts of British goods, raising funds for the fledgling nation, and managing the family business while struggling to maintain a modicum of normalcy as husbands, brothers and fathers died. Yet Berkin also reveals that it was not just the men who fought on the front lines, as in the story of Margaret Corbin, who was crippled for life when she took her husband’s place beside a cannon at Fort Monmouth. This incisive and comprehensive history illuminates a fascinating and unknown side of the struggle for American independence.

5. Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution by Joseph T. Glatthar and James Kirby Martin

From Macmillan, 2007

Combining compelling narrative and grand historical sweep, Forgotten Allies offers a vivid account of the Oneida Indians, forgotten heroes of the American Revolution who risked their homeland, their culture, and their lives to join in a war that gave birth to a new nation at the expense of their own. Revealing for the first time the full sacrifice of the Oneidas in securing independence, Forgotten Allies offers poignant insights about Oneida culture and how it changed and adjusted in the wake of nearly two centuries of contact with European-American colonists. It depicts the resolve of an Indian nation that fought alongside the revolutionaries as their valuable allies, only to be erased from America’s collective historical memory. Beautifully written, Forgotten Allies recaptures these lost memories and makes certain that the Oneidas’ incredible story is finally told in its entirety, thereby deepening and enriching our understanding of the American experience.

 

How the News Gets the News

We may get our news from popular media outlets like CNN, Fox News, CBS, or MSNBC, but where do they get their news from? Media outlets, and any other news source for that matter, get a large majority of their information from press releases. Press releases act as a medium between the source of information and media outlets. A company writes a press release to a media outlet if they think the information is noteworthy such as new technological developments, upper management changes, or even new book releases. Sometimes, a company will post press releases to their website for reporters who are searching for a story to write about. Other times, the company may contact the media directly through fax or e-mail.

The format of a press release differs from what you may be used to reading. A press release has, like most documents, a title. The title must be intriguing enough for a reporter or journalist to even want to begin reading the press release. Geoffrey James at CBS Money Watch writes about a press release with a terrible title sent to him:

“As a reporter, my immediate response to that press release was that it’s not important because it expended an entire sentence saying absolutely nothing. And I assumed (probably rightly) that the company’s marketing team was a bunch of idiots.”

A stack of newspapers.Press releases generally include the following information as well:

1) The Date of Release
This information is generally somewhere towards the top of the document—usually below the title.

2) Contact Information
Contact information of the person who wrote the press release is at the beginning of the document and often times scattered throughout. It is important that a reporter or journalist can get in contact with the author of the press release or a company’s marketing team. This information should not be difficult to find.

3) An Introduction
The introduction outlines the purpose of why the presented information is newsworthy. If possible, the introduction should answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.

4) The Body
Information is thoroughly explained in the section. It needs to give context and detail about why the information is newsworthy. This section contains the main reason you would be writing a press release.

5) Boiler Plate
You may be familiar with a boilerplate as a standard set text for legal documents, but a boilerplate in a press release usually only contains information about the company. A boilerplate in a press release displays the company’s name and contact information for their marketing team.

6) The Close
Once all that is written, a press release must have a close. The close is not a summary paragraph, but a set of defined symbols which indicate the release is over. These symbols vary, but two common closes are “-30-” and “###.”

7) Contact Information
Unlike the boiler plate which contains the company’s contact information, this contact information is specific to the writer of the press release or the company’s marketing team. Typically, the author of a press release leaves a phone number, e-mail, and fax number.

While all important, some of these elements can be left out. Robert Wynne from Forbes suggests, “Headline. Opening Sentence. Body. (What’s the story, why does it matter?) Contact Information.” If you’re confused, you can examine the formats of different press releases and find common themes between companies. For an example, check out this press release from Publishers Weekly.

Even if you have all these elements perfectly written, the title is the most important. It is crucial the title is clear and concise, since it is the first—and usually the only—element a reporter will initially see. Reporters must scan through hundreds of titles a day. For yours to stick out, it needs to be attention grabbing and directly to the point. Avoid long strings of meaningless adjectives and prepositional phrases. This way, reporters are more likely to understand what your press release is about. If they understand your title, they’re more likely read to read the whole release.

Literary Analysis and Discovery

Many of us are familiar with literary analysis. Maybe some of us even loath writing literary analysis. I can sympathize with that feeling. After all, literary analysis seems to be an ephemeral exercise in asserting a personal opinion which most likely doesn’t align with the reason for an author writing a work. I was on this side of the fence for a long time. At this point, you may be asking why I’m an English major if I feel this way, but that’s a story for another time. People change, and my feelings for literary analysis have shifted. Writing literary analysis has become a personal journey of discovery, but how did I come to this way of thinking?

First, I think it is necessary to examine how I approached writing literary analysis before I thought of it as a journey of discovery. If this was before. I would simply read a work and immediately have a conclusion about the meaning of the story. Then, I would write a paper based on my assumption of what the story means by finding passages which coincided with what I believed. And after finding a million passages, my paper would be complete with me not having learned much or really feeling all that accomplished.

Compare this to my approach to literary analysis now. The first difference would be my initial assumption after finishing a work. I try not to have a knee jerk reaction to the meaning of a work. This forces me to go back through the work and find common themes, motifs, symbols, and other literary techniques the author employed and examine them. By examining these techniques, a pattern is revealed. This is much different than my previous technique were I was attempting to force my own, knee jerk reaction onto the work. Doing this, you can look at literary analysis as a journey of discovery where little bits of a path are revealed until you come to the end.

I think this approach to literary analysis has given me a new appreciation for it, and honestly, it makes literary analysis so much more enjoyable. Before approaching literary analysis in this way, I would loath writing papers. Those papers almost seem combative or argumentative, trying to force the reader into believing me. Now, my papers act as a guide to the reader. I think using this method for literary analysis is much more true to the purpose of an author as well. Most authors purposely leave little remnants and literary techniques scattered throughout their works. Going back after an author and discovering these remnants makes for not only a more interesting process for writing, but also a way for you to discover what a work means to you personally. And while I think literary analysis is academically important, it can also reveal your thoughts and opinions on important subjects, which is why books are so vital in a society where it is hard to find who you are.

Zora Neale Hurston and Barracoon: The Importance of Preserving Dialect in Literature

Book cover of "Barracoon" by Zoea Neale Hurston
From HarperCollins, 2018.

Barracoon is a heretofore unpublished series of interviews between Zora Neale Hurston and a man named Cudjo Lewis who was the last survivor of the Atlantic Slave Trade. It has recently come into the public eye with the announcement of its upcoming release.

 Born in West Africa, Lewis (whose original name is Kossula) relates his harrowing story to Hurston: His abduction from his village as a young man; his trauma at witnessing the deaths of his kinsmen; his forced journey aboard the Clotilda; his time as a slave; and the creation of his own small community after he gained his freedom.

In keeping with Hurston’s preference for authentic dialogue, Lewis’ story is laid out in his own words and voice. For years, she struggled to find a publisher as they pressured her to present his story in “language rather than dialect” (Alter, New York Times). She strongly refused to give in to this demand and as a result, we now have an invaluable document of history. A firsthand account of the horrors of the slave trade and the efforts of African Americans to rebuild their lives in a new land once released from their bonds.

For the reader, this collection of interviews is an important addition to the growing body of work produced by African American artists in all genres. As a group whose voices have been oppressed and silenced throughout our country’s history, it is essential that every effort is made for their stories to be told authentically.

To this end, Barracoon represents an important and positive shift in the publishing industry, as there is now a concentrated effort to rediscover and present the words of those who have suffered in the past—without censorship or alteration.

Photograph of Cudjo Lewis, using his given name Kossula. From the book "Barracoon".
Photograph of Cudjo Lewis, using his given name Kossula.

We very sorry to be parted from one ’nother. We seventy days cross de water from de Affica soil, and now dey part us from one ’nother. Derefore we cry. Our grief so heavy look lak we cain stand it. I think maybe I die in my sleep when I dream about my mama. (Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo, quoted in The New York Times article of the same name.)

New Release: Brehe’s Grammar Anatomy – OER

The University of North Georgia Press is pleased to announce the release of our latest Open Education Resource: Brehe’s Grammar Anatomy by Dr. Steven Brehe, out August 4, 2018. As the University Press Partner for Affordable Learning Georgia, UNG Press is publishing this textbook as one of six Open Education Resources releasing this year.

Considered “a delight to read,” Brehe’s Grammar Anatomy makes grammar accessible, no matter who you are. This book provides a more in-depth look at beginner grammar terms and concepts, providing clear examples with limited technical jargon. Whether for academic or personal use, Brehe’s Grammar Anatomy is the perfect addition to any resource library.

Features:
• Practice exercises at the end of each chapter with answers in the back of the book, to help students test and correct their comprehension
• Full glossary and index with cross-references
• Easy-to-read language supports readers at every learning stage

As an Open Education Resource, this text is completely open access. It can be reused, remixed, and reedited freely without seeking permission.

We’re excited to share this textbook. Until its release, don’t miss our other exciting Brehe’s Grammar Anatomy events:

June 8 — Book Announcement
June 25 — Cover Reveal
June 29 — Press Release
July 13 — Sample Chapter
July 13 — Giveaway Starts
July 27 — Special Interest Blog
July 30 — Launch Info
August 4 — Release

Our Favorite Summer Reading Spot

My favorite summer reading place now only exists in my memory. I grew up in Miami, and we had a medium-sized cabin cruiser we dry docked in Key Largo, where storage facilities cost a lot less than in Miami. Most weekends, we’d drive down to Key Largo and take Robinson Crusoe past Blackwater Sound, past John Pennekamp Coral Reef, out to the shipping lanes. Sometimes the water was so clear, you could see small, colorful fish swimming through the coral. In the shipping lanes, the water changed rhythm, into deeper rolls. Through all of this, I would sit in the bow, feeling a bit like the Winged Victory of Samothrace flying over the water. And while my parents fished, I would stay in the bow reading. That’s still my favorite reading spot, especially in the summer.

—B. J. Robinson, Director

As a mother, I find myself grabbing five or ten minutes here or there to read. My children, you see, have a sixth sense. As soon as I start reading, their spidey senses tingle and they immediately stop their independent play to come find me and ask me for something. Anything. That said, my favorite summer reading spot is inside in my comfy chair next to a window while we are having one of our wonderful summer storms. Extra points if the power is out.

—Corey Parson, Managing Editor

My favorite summer reading spot is inside. Is that bad? I love the outdoors, but I hate how bugs will swarm around me if I try to read. Plus, I’m allergic to pollen and bushes and pollen and trees and, did I mention, pollen. 5 minutes outdoors and I’m sneezing. Instead of killing myself, I stay inside and read by the window. (Like a cat, only better because I have thumbs.) I get to see the greenery and admire my flowers, all without sacrificing myself for a mosquito’s dinner.

—Jillian Murphy, Assistant Managing Editor

My favorite summer reading spot is Yahoola Creek Park in Dahlonega, Georgia. Yahoola has a mountainous backdrop, and there is a calm creek winding through the park with many shade trees lining its path. Sometimes, I like to pack a hammock and set it up between two trees next to the creek. The creek, along with the soft murmur of other people at the park, gives a nice white noise while reading. If it gets too hot, you can always take a step into the cold water and see a hiding crawfish or a sunbathing turtle. I think that is the biggest perk of reading here. A lot of outdoors places don’t have any way to beat the heat. And if you need a break from reading entirely, there is always something to watch: birds, squirrels, people fishing or playing sports.

—Josh Vaughn, Summer Intern

From a very young age, the small creek located behind my house has always been my favorite place to visit with a book in hand. I am a strong believer that nature is one of the great stimulators of the imagination, whether one is creating a work of art or consuming it voraciously. The cool breeze blowing on one’s face, the rustling of the tree branches overhead, and the occasional glimpse of one’s reflection in the rippling water nearby. What better place could there possibly be to detach from the noise of the world around us and properly visualize what is within the printed pages of a book?

—Brooke Caine, Summer Intern

Intern Spotlight: Josh Vaughn

Hello, blog patrons! My name is Joshua Vaughn, but most people just call me Josh—unless you’re my mom or younger brother. In that case, it’s Joshua Kane. Since beginning college, my goal was to intern at the University Press, so I’m ecstatic to be working here this summer. Currently, I’m an upcoming senior at UNG, and I’m majoring in English, Writing and Publication and minoring in Japanese.

I wanted to work at the University Press not only because of the knowledge I will gain, but also because of the Press’ mission to provide Open Educational Resources (OERs) to students. As a student, this mission is close to my heart. I believe all students should have easily accessible course materials, and the University of North Georgia Press makes this possible.

In my free time, I like playing video games or hanging out with friends. Sometimes though, I just like to sit on my couch and binge watch Netflix while snacking on something—usually ice cream or extra toasted Cheez-its. Here are some other things about me:

  • I have played guitar since middle school
  • I love a good western movie or book
  • My favorite author is Hunter S. Thompson
  • My favorite color is orange
  • I can’t pick a favorite movie, but some I enjoy are The Machinist, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Mean Girls (don’t tell anyone about that last one)
  • I have all my wisdom teeth

After graduating, I want to teach English in Japan for a year or two before coming back to the United Sates. When I get back, I would like to work at a publishing house or press—hence the internship at the University Press. My life aspiration is not wealth, but to work somewhere I can clock out and not have to deal with work until the next morning. Thanks for taking the time to learn about me, bye!