Monthly Archives: September 2015

Harvesting the History of Corn

CBR_Logo2Midwest Maize:
How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland
by Cynthia Clampitt

As we approach Harvest Moon this weekend, it seems a fitting time to look at one of the country’s biggest crops: corn. Local author and food historian Cynthia Clampitt has done just that in her remarkable new book, Midwest Maize.

Those of us who live here—and anyone who has ever driven south of I-80—will know how prevalent corn is in Illinois and across the Midwest. But chances are that few of us have thought much about corn as we pass row after row after row, aside from, perhaps, entertaining the cliché “knee high by the 4th of July.” Clampitt, however, has delved much deeper in this thoroughly researched history of the crop that all but turned the Midwest into America’s Heartland.

midwest maize 9780252080579An exhaustive history, Midwest Maize traces the origins of the crop, the only indigenous cereal grain in North America. From its ancient uses among the indigenous peoples of the Americas to its role among early settlers in the original colonies to its role in shaping the United States, Clampitt leaves no kernel unturned as she explores corn and all its varieties, from field corn to sweet corn to popcorn and beyond. She digs into the sowing, hoeing, and harvesting of corn, shedding light into the history of husking bees that brought neighbors together and built communities. She looks into preserving and preparing corn (the book even includes recipes), and she examines the various products that come from corn, from whiskey to corn starch to myriad breakfast cereals to ethanol and biodiesel. And, she examines the inventions surrounding corn that helped build the Midwest, including John Deere’s tractors, which today are used around the world.

Clampitt demonstrates that corn and all its derivatives shaped the Midwest and the United States not only by providing a crop that today we likely could not live without but by prompting developments sparked by corn. She argues that corn has direct ties to the development of Chicago, where farmers would bring their harvests, first on roads, then via the I&M canal, then via railroads. She explains that Chicago’s Union Stockyards grew in large part to the readily available crops of feed corn that led to massive growth in the population of cattle and hogs. Although other crops might possibly have filled the void had corn not been so prevalent, one is left to wonder whether Chicago would be what it is today had not corn led to such expansive growth.

Midwest Maize is a truly remarkable history, illustrating an ongoing domino effect produced by a crop that many of us think little about. It’s a fascinating look at something that most of us rarely consider beyond whether we’ll grill or boil corn on the cob for summer cookouts or whether we’ll use canned corn or frozen corn in that Thanksgiving casserole. Corn, though, as Clampitt ably demonstrates, has tremendous reach, a crop that today has become all but indispensable.

Beyond the history of corn and how it shaped the heartland, Clampitt also touches on some of the more controversial aspects surrounding the subject, including traditional vs organic vs sustainable farming as well as the problem of food waste, concerns surrounding using feed corn to fatten up livestock, and the diminishing numbers of farmers at a time when food scarcity and food security are such important issues around the world.

Packed with interesting details, Midwest Maize is an informative read, and one that might well be of interest to fans of Mark Kurlansky’s books Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. Fascinating overall, the tale at times gets bogged down in minutiae, but Clampitt’s research and reportage sustains the book, providing readers with a unique look at an adaptable plant that does so much for so many, providing not only food but myriad other resources that most of us take for granted.

Three-Star Review

March 2015, University of Illinois Press
History/Food History
$19.95, paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 978-0-252-08057-9

“And pray what more can a reasonable man desire,
in peaceful times, than a sufficient number of ears of
green sweet corn boiled, with the addition of salt?”
—Henry David Thoreau

—Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen

Read more about the book.


1 Comment

Filed under nonfiction

Stories Far From Idiotic

CBR_Logo2Twilight of the Idiots
by Joseph G. Peterson

Twilight of the Idiots gathers together short stories about people who take wrong turns in life and who suffer or even die because of it. No matter how hard they try, opportunities for love and happiness slip away. The title of the collection is a play on Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, itself a decadent twist on Richard Wagner’s opera, Twilight of the Gods (Götterdämmerung).

A sense of moral and spiritual dissipation defines Peterson’s work here. Unlike his novel Gideon’s Confession (reviewed for CBR here), there is no humorous reprieve or hope; there is only suicide, murder, or at best emotional failure. The author has set himself a true challenge in imagining these desperately tragic lives. Readers will be shaken by the troubled relations between ordinary, mostly uncultured people.twilightcover400

“Romance and Respect” tells of a woman’s entanglement with a violent man. The woman leaves her listener (and the reader) feeling frustrated and uneasy as it becomes clear that she is ill-equipped to make good decisions. If there is wisdom in suffering, it requires a level of self-awareness that seems to elude her. “Rita’s Last Crazy Idea” presents a similar narrative from the man’s point of view. A free-spirited woman seems to lure the main male character on a dangerous boat ride. As he eyes “the skin of the woman underneath the bikini,” he claims to “hear the question she really asks: not if we can do it, but if I have enough lust for her to row her out there.” His misinterpretation is alarming, even more so given his reasonable tone of voice.

Other stories cover unwitnessed, unpunished crimes. Only the fiction writer, by strength of imagination, can traverse time and space to observe such cruelty perpetrated without consequence. The best of these stories, “Golfer’s Bog,” is a ghoulish, unforgettable account of the murder of a young boy. Malevolence and despair mingle with appalling nonchalance. The boy narrates his own death, remarking, “When it was all over, I remember thinking, I don’t know, it just seems like I shouldn’t have been so easy to kill.”

A few stories focus on the early loss of innocence. But more haunting is Peterson’s examination of a lifetime of disillusionment, especially in the diptych formed by “The Visit,” about a mother who visits her son, and “It Comes with Death, Such Feelings,” which covers her death years later. Both focus on the son’s alienation from his mother, a woman suffering from “life fatigue.” She seems to hide this side of herself from everyone else—or perhaps he misunderstood her all along. The true cause of their discord is never certain. One has to admire the author’s refusal to provide a satisfying rapprochement. As sometimes happens, regret and slow burning resentment here win out over all other feelings.

Most of these ordinary “idiots” (or young people) can barely fathom the possibility of misperception, though there are a few exceptions. In “Jacob’s Cheek,” the endearingly resilient main character has created “the most successful porta-potty business in town.” He has won himself stability and wealth despite his traumatic childhood. Yet no one believes it was traumatic, and this bothers him. To his credit, he ponders the fallibility of his own mind. “Did it really happen like this? Was his childhood really this oppressive?” If so, then he is alone with the burden of memory; if it was not oppressive, he must live with his delusion. Either way, human mental faculties seem horribly flawed, as much a source of pain as anything else.

Despite these scenes of death and dismal existence, somehow Chicago itself comes across, now and then, in a nostalgic light, whether a character is paddling out on the lake or staggering down Rush Street at night. But bitter psychological realities prevail. The heartache of ordinary lives is not softened with quirky humor or a wealth of local detail, as they are for instance in Stuart Dybeck’s The Coast of Chicago. Twilight of the Idiots, written in concise unembellished prose, focuses on people who lack any particular brilliance, insight, or wit. Some are Nietzscheans without Nietzsche, while others are tragedies without an audience. But Peterson sees each crisis through, if not quite judging, then bearing witness.

A final word must be said about the high physical quality and presentation of the book, which was published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. The cover features a striking photograph of a Düreresque rodent, crouched low, eyes open wide. One would not guess from its face that its torso is hollowed out, as if bitten in two, internal organs splayed open for inspection. The creature has suffered a staggering injury, yet it still lives. The image is from a massive outdoor mural by ROA in Chicago (photographed by Peterson). It effectively complements the arresting stories within, toying with perceptions of scale in regard to personal trauma.

Four-Star Review

April 2015, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Fiction/Short Stories
$14.99, paperback, 212 pages
ISBN: 978-1939987273

—Reviewed by Vicky Albritton

1 Comment

Filed under fiction

CBR’s Fall 2015 Preview

CBR_Logo2It’s a little difficult to think about fall when, as I write this, the heat index is 89 degrees, the air conditioning is blasting, and the dog is outside sunning herself. But fall is indeed upon us, and publishers across Chicago and the Midwest have been busy putting together their fall lists.

We’ve been working on a list of our own here, too: our Fall 2015 Preview. To compile this extraordinary list, we asked local and regional publishers to share information about some of their key upcoming titles. The result is a month-by-month listing of some of the most exciting books coming out between September and December. CBR’s Fall 2015 Preview features more than five dozen books from more than two dozen publishers—publishers large and small publishing books across a variety of genres.

Our Fall 2015 Preview features books for readers of all ages and for readers whose interests lie in a variety of subjects, from YA to sports to history to mystery to romance to politics to self-help. You’ll find books of local interest as well, including new titles that focus on the Chicago Bears, Cook County Hospital, and Chicago’s Union Stockyards. You’ll find books that look beyond Chicago to Midwestern neighbors like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. And you’ll find books from local authors, too, including Maggie Kast, Jerome Pohlen, and Michele Weldon.

So curl up with a good book and Read Local, whether you’re snuggling on the sofa under a warm blanket or wearing a cozy sweater while reading next to the outdoor fireplace or basking in the sun of a welcome Indian Summer day. There are plenty of books here to choose from—great reads from local authors and publishers that are sure to please.

Happy Reading!


Ara's Knights COVERAra’s Knights: Ara Parseghian and the Golden Era of Notre Dame Football
by Frank Pomarico and Ray Serafin; Foreword by Regis Philbin; Introduction by Gerry DiNardo
$19.95, paperback, 288 pages
Triumph Books
The ultimate insider’s account of a renowned coach and the athletes he inspired. With this memoir, former Notre Dame captain Frank Pomarico shares with readers what it was like to play for legendary coach Ara Parseghian, a leader whose guidance extended beyond the playing field and whose tips still inspire his players. The book culminates with the 1973 Sugar Bowl, the climactic and memorable game between Bear Bryant’s undefeated Alabama squad and Ara’s undefeated Fighting Irish. Pomarico’s story is amplified by interviews with dozens of former players and coaches whose lives were changed by their experience with the coach. Parseghian was one of the most successful college coaches ever, and the young men who played for him learned about much more than just blocking and tackling. Ara’s Knights is the ultimate insiders’ look at one of the great periods in Notre Dame football history.

are you still there 25361860Are You Still There
by Sarah Lynn Scheerger
$16.99, hardcover 288 pages
AW Teen/Albert Whitman
Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends? Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse, she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

The Axeman
9781492609162-300by Ray Celestin
$14.99, paperback, 448 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
The Yard meets The Maid’s Version in this debut historical thriller based on actual ev  ents. A serial killer stalks New Orleans, threatening to strike again unless the citizens follow the twisted demands he brazenly publishes in the Times-Picayune. Three individuals set out to stop his killing spree—the official police detective with a dangerous secret, the mafia man newly released from prison, and the unlikely young female sleuth. Will they unmask the killer before he chooses another victim? Or will they find themselves on the wrong end of his ax?

behind the smileBehind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun’s Historic Senate Campaign
by Jeannie Morris
$27, hardcover, 384 pages
In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first, and to this day only, African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Behind the Smile is the riveting campaign-trail memoir of a journalist coming to grips with the shortcomings of an ascendant politician—a charismatic trailblazer whose personal relationship with a key staffer led to her undoing. The narrative unfolds as the personal journey of a sympathetic reporter reconciling her own belief in an inspiring figure with her responsibility to deliver the facts. In Behind the Smile, Morris brings the social and political impact of Moseley Braun’s story—from her meteoric rise to her eventual downfall—into clear focus.

burn girl 25335399Burn Girl
by Mandy Mikulencak
$16.99, hardcover, 288 pages
AW Teen/Albert Whitman
Arlie’s face was disfigured by burns when her stepfather’s meth lab exploded. After that, Arlie discovered the street smarts and survival skills she needed to shelter her addict mother, since the law and Lloyd, her deranged stepfather, are both looking for them. People died in the explosion, and everyone wants answers. But Arlie’s carefully constructed world is ripped apart when her mother overdoses shortly after Arlie’s sixteenth birthday. Now she can no longer remain hidden. Social Services steps in and before Arlie can make sense of anything, she is following the rules, going to school, and living in a 31-foot Airstream trailer with an eccentric uncle she didn’t even know she had. Then she meets a boy who doesn’t care about her scars or her past. Just when she begins to think a normal life might be possible, Lloyd shows up. He’s looking for the drug money he insists Arlie’s mother stole. Will Arlie be able to shield her Uncle and her boyfriend from Lloyd? Did Lloyd somehow play a role in her mother’s death? And can she get rid of him once and for all before her world blows apart again?

The Chase CoverThe Chase: How Ohio State Captured the First College Football Playoff
by Bill Rabinowitz; Foreword by Kirk Herbstreit
$24.95, paperback, 288 pages
Triumph Books
This inside look at an unprecedented season follows Ohio State’s road to the inaugural College Football Playoff and the national championship In The Chase, Bill Rabinowitz takes readers inside Ohio State’s improbable championship season, from the final moments of their 2014 Orange Bowl loss to Clemson to the championship celebration in Arizona a year later. Fans will learn how Ohio State overcame the loss of not one but two quarterbacks—gaining inside perspective behind the dynamic between Miller, J. T. Barrett, and Cardale Jones. Rabinowitz captures the mood of the team in late November following the tragic death of Kosta Karageorge, and profiles other Ohio State stars, including Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett, Ezekiel Elliott, and more.

Christmas in Illinois
by James Ballowe (Ed.)
BalloweF10$16.95, paperback, 224 pages
University of Illinois Press
James Ballowe collects writing about the Christmas is remembered by Illinoisans. Some are widely familiar—John W. Allen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Mike Royko, Carl Sandburg, Joseph Smith—but most are known only in their close-knit communities that together represent the very best of the Prairie State.

Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases
by Cory Franklin
$16.95, paperback, 240 pages
Academy Chicago, an imprint of Chicago Review Press
An inside look at one of the nation’s most famous public hospitals, as seen through the eyes of its longtime director of intensive care. The author still resides in the Chicago area.

The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-CountriesDead Ladies Project
by Jessa Crispin
$16, paperback, 248 pages
The University of Chicago Press
When Jessa Crispin was thirty, she burned her settled Chicago life to the ground and took off for Europe with a pair of suitcases and no plan beyond leaving. In The Dead Ladies Project, Crispin travels an itinerary of key literary locations, visiting the places that have drawn writers who needed to break free from their origins and start afresh.

Doug Buffone: Monster of the Midway—My 50 Years With the Chicago Bears
bDoug Buffone COVERy Doug Buffone with Chet Coppock; Foreword by Dan Hampton
$25.95, hardcover, 272 pages
Triumph Books
A beloved Bear’s tales of the epic highs and frustrating lows of the team over the last half century In Doug Buffone: Monster of the Midway, author and former Bear Doug Buffone provides a behind-the-scenes look at the personalities and events that have shaped the franchise’s storied history. Beginning in 1966, when Buffone was selected in the fourth round by the Bears, the book details his early playing days under legendary Coach George Halas all the way through the start of the new era of the franchise with John Fox. He takes readers through the exhilaration of being teammates with the legendary Gale Sayers, as well as the heartrending experience of losing teammate Brian Piccolo to cancer, which would go on to inspire the award-winning movie Brian’s Song. Before retiring as the last Bear to have played under Halas in 1980, Buffone also had the pleasure of sharing the locker room with the next superstar Bears running back, Walter Payton, helping lay the groundwork that would lead to the unforgettable 1985 Super Bowl champion squad.

Escape Points: A Memoir
by Michele Weldon
$26.95, hardcover, 272 pages
Chicago Review Press
This quote from bestselling author Elizabeth Berg perfectly sums up Escape Points: “I don’t know how local author Michele Weldon made wrestling, breast cancer, and single parenting tie together so naturally, so beautifully, but in fact each is a perfect metaphor for this book’s message of soulful triumph.”

Fake Fruit FactoryFake+Fruit+Cover
by Patrick Wensink
$16.95, paperback, 350 pages
Curbside Splendor
Fake Fruit Factory is a stick-slapping, gut-punching comedic novel about the eccentric small town of Dyson, Ohio. When NASA determines an errant satellite will crash there, the town’s young mayor uses the ensuing media circus to attract tourism and save his bankrupt rust belt community—unless, of course, the satellite completely wipes it from the map.

Final Stanzas: StoriesFinal Stanzas - front cover - 1000
by Grant Tracey
$15, paperback, 236 pages
Twelve Winters Press
In these eleven short stories by a true master of the form, Grant Tracey guides us across a wide expanse of time and place but always deep into the interior lives of the characters we encounter. The collection includes the Pushcart Prize-nominated story “Written on the Wind.”

Forty Years in The Big House: Michigan Tales From My Four Decades As a Wolverine
Forty Years in the Big House Coverby Jon Falk and Dan Ewald; Foreword by Jim Harbaugh
$24.95, hardcover, 224 pages
Triumph Books
An inside look at the University of Michigan’s football program from the man who was the team’s equipment manager for more than four decades Forty years ago, Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk began his legacy, becoming a living encyclopedia of Michigan football tradition and history. Hired by Bo Schembechler in 1974, the now retired Falk shares his firsthand, inside stories from in the locker room, on the sideline, and on the road with one of college football’s most storied institutions. He may not be as well known as the Big House or the Little Brown Jug, but among coaches, players, and a good portion of the Michigan football faithful, Jon Falk has fashioned a lively legend of his own. Falk’s recollections connect the past and present to highlight the importance of the relationships created during the best four years of any college player’s life and it’s those relationships that drive the Wolverines to success.

9781492617891-300House of Thieves
by Charles Belfoure
$25.99, hardcover, 432 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
Belfoure’s debut novel, The Paris Architect (2013), was a New York Times bestseller. House of Thieves is the story of John Cross, a society architect in 1886 New York, who is forced to join a criminal gang and plan robberies of the building he’s designed, in order to pay of his son’s debts.

I. W. Colburn: Emotion in Modern Architecture
by Jay Pridmore
i.-w.-colburn$40, hardcover, 128 pages
Lake Forest College Press
I. W. Colburn: Emotion in Modern Architecture chronicles the career of one of Chicago’s most influential mid-century modernists. Colburn’s houses, institutional buildings, and religious structures feature a highly refined blend of structural expression and deeply embedded elements of traditional architecture. Colburn was an independent architect whose sculptural buildings were controversial in his time, but whose mastery of proportion, materials, and space have gained wide recognition fifty years later.

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart
by Jane St. Anthony
$14.95, hardcover, 152 pages
University of Minnesota Press
It’s the Midwest in the early 1960s, and Isabelle is reeling from a loss that’s too hard to think—let alone talk—about. With characteristic sensitivity and wit, Jane St. Anthony reveals how a girl’s life clouded with grief can also hold a world of promise.

Leaders of the Pack CoverLeaders of the Pack: Starr, Favre, Rodgers and Why Green Bay’s Quarterback Trio Is the Best in NFL History
by Rob Reischel; Foreword by Brett Favre; Preface by Ron Wolf
$16.95, paperback, 256 Pages
Triumph Books
The story behind one team’s unprecedented dominance at the quarterback position By developing a trio of Hall of Fame-bound passers, the Green Bay Packers have enjoyed success at the quarterback position that surpasses that of any other team in the National Football League. In Leaders of the Pack, veteran Packers writer Rob Reischel explores the organization’s history of successful signal-callers, highlighting Bart Starr’s Super Bowl victories, Brett Favre’s collection of NFL records, and Aaron Rodgers’s ascent into becoming one of the best players in today’s NFL. Reischel traces the history of all three players, highlighting what it means to be a Packers quarterback both on and off the field, and then expands his insight to the rest of the league. He examines other team’s dynamic trios—such as the Dallas Cowboys’ Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo or the San Francisco 49ers’ Y. A. Tittle, Joe Montana, and Steve Young—but demonstrates why the Packers have the most successful players at the position in NFL history. Featuring Favre’s thoughts about his place in the Packers’ quarterback legacy in his own words, Leaders of the Pack is required reading for Packers fans young and old.

SaintPeterSaint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful
by Stephen J. Binz
$14.95, paperback, 198 pages
Loyola Press
Biblical scholar Stephen Binz takes readers on a pilgrimage following the imperfect and flawed Peter from Galilee to Rome—from the spot where Peter first dropped his nets to follow Jesus to the place where he gave his life out of love for his Lord.

StrippedStripped: At the Intersection of Cancer, Culture, and Christ
by Heather King
$14.95, paperback, 224 pages
Loyola Press
Stripped is an authentic expression of profound Catholic faith in the face of a cancer diagnosis. It chronicles Heather King’s informed decision not to blindly declare “war on her cancer,” but to carefully examine all the medical evidence available, and choose to bring God into her decision making, and, ultimately, to accept her vulnerability. King learned that healing means so much more than simply “getting well.”

The War Came Home With Him: A Daughter’s Memoir
by Catherine Madison
$24.95, hardcover, 256 pages
University of Minnesota Press
Catherine Madison tells the stories of two survivors of one man’s war: a father who withstood a prison camp’s unspeakable inhumanity and a daughter who withstood the residual cruelty that came home with him. Madison pieces together her father’s past and returns to a childhood troubled by his secret torment to consider, in a new light, their complex relationship.

WilliamsF15Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom
by Sonja D. Williams
$26, paperback, 264 pages
University of Illinois Press
Posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007, Richard Durham paved the way for black journalists and worked as a community organizer in Chicago, mentoring generations of activists. Durham’s trademark narrative style engaged listeners with fascinating characters, compelling details, and sharp images of pivotal moments in American and African-American history and culture. In Word Warrior, award-winning radio producer Sonja D. Williams draws on archives and hard-to-access family records, as well as interviews with family and colleagues like Studs Terkel and Toni Morrison, to illuminate Durham’s astounding career.



american slave 9781613748206The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry
by Ned and Constance Sublette
$35, hardcover, 752 pages
Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press
A wide-ranging, alternative political, cultural, and economic history of the United States and how the slave-breeding industry shaped it. The American Slave Coast offers a provocative vision of U.S. history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light. Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as “breeding women” essential to the young country’s expansion.

Chasing Perfection: The Principles Behind Winning Football the De La Salle Way
by Bob Ladouceur and Neil HayesChasing Perfection Cover
$24.95, hardcover, 240 pages
Triumph Books
A coaching legend shares techniques, philosophies, and team-building exercises applicable beyond the playing field In 1979, when Bob Ladouceur took over the head football coaching job at De La Salle high school, the program had never once had a winning season. By the time he stepped down in 2013 and after posting an unprecedented 399–25–3 record, De La Salle was regarded as one of the great dynasties in the history of high school football. Ladouceur shares, for the first time, the coaching philosophies he employed at De La Salle. Far more than a book on the Xs and Os of football, this resource focuses on how Ladouceur created a culture based on accountability, work ethic, humility, and commitment that made his teams greater than the sum of their parts. This book not only include details on the nuances of the game and the techniques that made the Spartans the most celebrated high school football team in history, it also has chapters on creating what Ladouceur calls an “authentic team experience,” which include lessons as valuable in a board room as in a locker room.

gay lesbian historyGay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights
by Jerome Pohlen
$17.95, paperback, 272 pages
Chicago Review Press
October is LGBT History Month. In this first-of-its-kind history book, local author Jerome Pohlen helps put recent events into context for kids ages nine and up. After a brief history up to 1900, each chapter discusses an era in the struggle for LGBT civil rights from the 1920s to today. The history is told through personal stories and firsthand accounts of the movement’s key events, like the 1950s “Lavender Scare,” the Stonewall Inn uprising, and the AIDS crisis. Kids will learn about civil rights mavericks, like Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, founder of the first gay rights organization; Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who turned the Daughters of Bilitis from a lesbian social club into a powerhouse for LGBT freedom; Christine Jorgensen, the nation’s first famous transgender; and Harvey Milk, the first out candidate to win a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

generational IQ 978-1-4143-6472-8Generational IQ: Christianity Isn’t Dying, Millennials Aren’t the Problem, and the Future Is Bright
by Haydn Shaw (with Ginger Kolbaba)
$17.99, hardcover, 304 pages
Tyndale House Publishers
Within the past several decades, the world has shifted dramatically. The cracks of this fundamental shift appear everywhere: in our economy, in our cultural debates, in our political landscape, and, most important, in our churches. The problem is we tend to overreact to these changes, fearing that Christianity is dying. We need better Generational IQ, so we can respond to the changes but not be terrified by them. We need a wise generational coach. Haydn Shaw is that generational expert, showing us the roots of this generational shift and how it affects every one of us. Each generation, whether it’s the aging Boomers or the young Millennials, approaches God with a different set of questions and needs based on the times in which they grew up. Haydn walks you through these generational differences and paints a vision of hope for the future.

The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery (Expanded Edition)
by David G. Benner; Foreword by M. Basil Pennington
$15, paperback, 128 pages
IVP Books
In this profound exploration of Christian identity, psychologist and spiritual director David G. Benner illuminates the spirituality of self-discovery. He exposes the false selves that you may hide behind and calls you to discover the true self that emerges from your uniqueness in Christ. Freeing you from illusions about yourself, Benner shows that self-understanding leads to the fulfillment of your God-given destiny and vocation. This expanded edition, one of three titles in “The Spiritual Journey” trilogy, includes a new epilogue and an experiential guide with questions for individual reflection or group discussion.

grant parkGrant Park: A Novel
by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
$24.95, hardcover, 400 pages
Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King’s final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper’s server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column’s publication. Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts’s gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.

The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky
by Victor Serge and Natalia Sedova; Foreword by Richard Greeman
$17.95, paperback, 296 pages
Haymarket Books
Leon Trotsky was one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution who was exiled and murdered following Stalin’s rise to power. Written by two of his closest collaborators, this book provides an invaluable picture of a great revolutionary and the world-historic events in which he was a leading actor.

knutsen_promo_jktThe Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath: A Novel
by Kimberly Knutsen
$18.95, paperback, 384 pages
Northern Illinois University Press/Switchgrass Books
Meet Wilson Lavender, a sober alcoholic who spends most of his time avoiding work on his dissertation, and his wife, Katie, a recent PhD with a troubled past and no plans other than to seduce their young neighbor. When Katie’s free-spirit sister moves in, their stagnant world is roiled.

The Love of Debbie La’treck
by Habeeba B. Pasha
$17.99, paperback, 98 pages
220 Publishing (A Division of 220 Communications)
The Love of Debbie La’treck is a beautifully illustrated and compelling story about ten-year-old Debbie, a voracious reader who begins to live vicariously through the characters she so fondly reads about. Vivian is Debbie’s mom, and she has always allowed her to read whatever adventure-filled material she wanted without parental supervision. As a result, Debbie is no longer herself and is beginning to live through the characters that she reads about. Vivian soon has to fight the ultimate fight to get her daughter to face reality without taking away her imaginative spirit.

Ohio State Bucket List CoverThe Ohio State Buckeyes Fans’ Bucket List
by Zack Meisel
$16.95, paperback, 256 Pages
Triumph Books
Every Ohio State Buckeyes fan has a bucket list of activities to take part in at some point in their lives. But even the most die-hard fans haven’t done everything there is to experience in and around Columbus. From visiting Buckeye Grove to forming the O-H-I-O sign, author Zack Meisel provides ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can’t-miss activities near campus. But not every experience requires a trip to Columbus; long-distance Buckeyes fans can cross some items off their list from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you’re attending every home game or supporting the Buckeyes from afar, there’s something for every fan to do in The Ohio State Buckeyes Fans’ Bucket List.

people's place 9781613730591The People’s Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences From the Civil Rights Era to Today
by Dave Hoekstra
$29.95, hardcover, 240 pages
Chicago Review Press
Celebrated former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Dave Hoekstra unearths these stories and hundreds more as he travels, tastes, and talks his way through twenty of America’s best, liveliest, and most historically significant soul food restau­rants. Following the “soul food corridor” from the South through northern industrial cities, The People’s Place gives voice to the remarkable chefs, workers, and small business owners (often women) who provided sustenance and a safe haven for civil rights pioneers, not to mention presidents and politicians; music, film, and sports legends; and countless everyday, working-class people.

pretend-i-m-deadPretend I’m Dead: A Novel
by Jen Beagin
$17.95, paperback, 208 pages
TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press
Jen Beagin’s funny, moving, fearless debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona—almost twenty-four, cleaning houses to get by, emotionally adrift. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways. She decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs. But they all have one or two things to teach her—the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. Always just under the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself. The story of her journey toward a comfortable place in the world and a measure of self-acceptance is psychologically acute, often surprising, and entirely human.

Radical Prayer: The Power of Being Bold and Persistent
by Manny Mill, Harold Smith, and Barbara Mill
$9.99, paperback, 192 pages
Moody Publishers
When one prays consistently, persistently, and boldly for the hallowing of God’s holy name, big things happen. Radical Prayer gives us a glimpse of the transformative and explosive power of praying in God’s will, a power that takes place internally and manifests externally. Whether your prayer life is strong or in shambles, Radical Prayer will compel you to a life of bold, persistent, transformative, and expectant prayer.

Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway9781492614074-300
by Peter Zheutlin
$14.99, paperback, 256 pages
Every other week, Greg Mahle travels thousands of miles from his home in Ohio to the Deep South to pick up abused and abandoned dogs that have come from the streets of Houston and high-kill shelters in Louisiana, and places these pups with forever families in the Northeast. Greg is their connection. Ninety dogs ride in the back of a specially outfitted semi, and spend two to three days riding up the East Coast. Each stop is known as Gotcha Day, and families wait with signs and big hearts as they are finally united with their rescue dog.

Leary_Thicker_Than_Blood_CoverThicker Than Blood
by Jan English Leary
$15, paperback, 299 pages
Fomite Press
Andrea Barton is single but wants a child. When an infant is abandoned at a church on the north side of Chicago, Andrea first becomes a foster mother and then adopts her. Andrea believes that love and her experience as a social worker will see her through the challenges of raising an African-American child in a white world.

The Third Target: A J. B. Collins Novel
by Joel C. Rosenberg
$15.99, paperback, 448 pages
Tyndale House Publishers
When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell—ISIS—has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, he knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have weapons of mass destruction? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else? With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region—Iraq and Syria—can Collins uncover the truth before it’s too late?

20 things20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves
by Kelli Worrall and Peter Worrall
$13.99, paperback, 256 pages
Moody Publishers
Foster good habits. Press into pain. Never, ever get another perm. Despite what many think, our twenties aren’t that dead space between youth and real life. Done right, they can be among our most important years. In 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves, Peter and Kelli Worrall look back on it all the good, the bad, and the miserable to give you the best of what they’ve learned. With humility, warmth, and brilliant storytelling, they invite you not only into their wisdom, but also into their lives, sharing about marriage, faith, drawn-out adoptions, dark nights of the soul, and the God who’s in it all.

Uncommonly Common
by Desmond L. Kemp
$17.99, paperback
220 Publishing (A Division of 220 Communications)
Julian Johnson is an average boy that lives a common life. He sticks close to his mama and looks up to his big brother Johan. Amongst his friends, he is probably the one that’s more reserved. Often convinced by his cousin Cassie and his best friend Robert, Julian finds himself in more sticky situations than he imagined. Uncommonly, Julian tells the story of his first experiences and life lessons of trying to be a cool teenager in the 1990s.

villainous compoundsVillainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War
by Guy R. Hasegawa
$29.50, hardcover, 200 pages
Southern Illinois University Press
In chilling detail, Hasegawa describes the potential weapons, the people be- hind the concepts, and the evolution of some chemical weapon concepts into armaments employed in future wars. As he explains, bureaucrats in the war departments of both armies either delayed or rejected outright most of these unusual weapons, viewing them as unneeded or unworkable. Especially timely with today’s increased chemical threats from terrorists and the alleged use of chemical agents in the Syrian Civil War, Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War expands the history of chemical warfare and exposes a disturbing new facet of the Civil War.



pipes_jkt_promoAlexander Yakovlev: The Man Whose Ideas Delivered Russia From Communism
by Richard Pipes
$29.95, hardcover, 168 pages
Northern Illinois University Press
This illuminating study is the first full-scale biography of Alexander Yakovlev, who was the intellectual force behind the processes that liberated the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe from Communist rule between 1989 and 1991.

gregory_promo_jktAntosha and Levitasha: The Shared Lives and Art of Anton Chekhov and Isaac Levitan
by Serge Gregory
$39, paperback, 264 pages
Northern Illinois University Press
Antosha and Levitasha is the first book in English devoted to the complex relationship between Anton Chekhov and Isaac Levitan, one of Russia’s greatest landscape painters.

The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America
by Sarah Deer
$22.95, paperback, 232 pages
University of Minnesota Press
The Beginning and End of Rape makes available the powerful writings in which Sarah Deer, who played a crucial role in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, has advocated for cultural and legal reforms to protect Native women from endemic sexual violence and abuse. These essays point to the possibility of actual and positive change in a world where Native women are systematically undervalued, left unprotected, and hurt.

Blues Unlimited: Essential Interviews From the Original Blues Magazine
GreensmithF15by Bill Greensmith, Mike Rowe, and Mark Camarigg (Eds.)
$40, paperback, 456 pages
University of Illinois Press
British blues fans Mike Leadbitter and Simon Napier launched the magazine Blues Unlimited in 1963. The magazine presented first time interviews with blues greats throughout the U.S. Stories abound, such as Freddie King playing a string of one-nighters so grueling it destroys his car; five-year-old Fontella Bass gigging at St. Louis funeral homes; and Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup rising from life in a packing crate to music stardom.

box wine 9781613733486The Box Wine Sailors: Misadventures of a Broke Young Couple at Sea
by Amy McCullough
$16.95, paperback, 304 pages
Academy Chicago, an imprint of Chicago Review Press
With no real sailing experience, Amy McCullough and her partner Jimmie bought a shabby 27-foot sailboat, quit their jobs, and set off from Portland, Oregon, for the Sea of Cortez looking for adventure. Amy is from Illinois and lived in Chicago while attending Loyola University.

Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory
by Tod Bolsinger
$17, paperback, 240 pages
IVP Books
Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world. If you’re going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools. Reading this book will set you on the right course to lead with confidence and courage.

City CreaturesCity Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
by Gavin Van Horn and Dave Aftandilian (Eds.)
$30, hardcover, 264 pages
The University of Chicago Press
City Creatures introduces readers to the astonishing diversity of Chicago’s urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.

early bluesEarly Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar
by Jas Obrecht
$22.95, hardcover, 272 pages
University of Minnesota Press
Since the early 1900s, blues and the guitar have traveled side by side. From the first reported sightings of blues musicians to the onset of the Great Depression, this is the most comprehensive and complete account ever written of the early stars of blues guitar—an essential chapter in the history of American music.

Family Resemblance: An Anthology & Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres
by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov (Eds.)
$17.95, paperback, 464 pages
Rose Metal Press
Family Resemblance provides craft essays and examples of hybrid forms by forty-three distinguished authors. In this study of eight hybrid genres— including lyric essay, epistolary, poetic memoir, prose poetry, performative, short-form nonfiction, flash fiction, and pictures made of words—the family tree of hybridity takes delightful shape, showcasing how cross-genre works blend features from multiple literary parents to create new entities, forms that feel more urgent than ever in today’s increasingly heterogeneous landscape.

gottfried_promo_jktFascism: The Career of a Concept
by Paul E. Gottfried
$45, hardcover, 256 pages
Northern Illinois University Press
This provocative yet even-handed study examines the semantic twists and turns the term “fascism” has endured since the 1930s and traces the word’s polemical function within the context of present ideological struggles.

Kast_Unsullied_Land_CoverA Free, Unsullied Land
by Maggie Kast
$15, paperback, 371 pages
Fomite Press
A Free, Unsullied Land is a wonderfully engaging and convincing portrait of a young woman elbowing her way past the limits of her moment in history. When she finally breathes the fresh air of political and sexual revolt, she still must learn some bracing lessons that transcend both.

mn modernMinnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury
by Larry Millett
$49.95, hardcover, 384 pages
University of Minnesota Press
Larry Millett conducts an eye-opening, spectacularly illustrated Minnesota tour of the rich and varied landscape of midcentury modernism. A history lesson as entertaining as it is enlightening, Minnesota Modern provides a close-up view of a style that penetrated the social, political, and cultural machinery of the times.

olympic-butter-goldOlympic Butter Gold: Poems
by Jonathan Moody
$16.95, paperback, 96 pages
Northwestern University Press
Jonathan Moody grew up during the Golden Ages of hip-hop and listened to rap that was as adventurous and diverse as his military upbringing. When rap’s Golden Ages expired, the mu- sic’s innovativeness and variety diminished. Moody’s second book, Olympic Butter Gold, winner of the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, responds to Chuck D’s claim that “if there was a HIP-HOP or Rap Olympics, I really don’t think the United States would get Gold, Silver or Brass.” From the poem “Opening Ceremony,” in the voice of a heroin addict struggling to use Lady Liberty’s torch to cook “The American Dream,” to “Dear 2Pac,” an autobiographical account of teaching Tupac Shakur’s poetry to engage high school students indifferent to literature, Moody shares a worldview that is simultaneously apocalyptic and promising.

SacredSpace_2016Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2016
by The Irish Jesuits
$15.95, paperback, 384 pages
Loyola Press
Sacred Space provides readers the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with God, wherever they are and is the only book to bring the daily prayer experience of the Sacred Space website into the book format. Sacred Space leads you into an experience of prayer that is accessible, engaging, and meaningful to daily life.

SlaughterhouseSlaughterhouse: Chicago’s Union Stock Yard and the World It Made
by Dominic A. Pacyga
$26, hardcover, 256 pages
The University of Chicago Press
Slaughterhouse tells the story of the Union Stock Yard, chronicling the rise and fall of an industrial district that, for better or worse, served as the public face of Chicago for decades. Marking the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the stockyards, it is an engrossing story of one of the most important—and deadliest—square miles in American history.

Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life
by A. Alyce Claerbaut and David Schlesinger (Eds.); Foreword by Ramsey Lewis
$35, hardcover, 208 pages
Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life is a stunning collection of essays, photographs, and ephemera celebrating Billy Strayhorn, one of the most significant yet under-appreciated contributors to twentieth-century American music. Released in commemoration of Strayhorn’s centennial, this luxurious coffee-table book offers intimate details of the composer’s life from musicians, scholars, and Strayhorn’s closest relatives.

KingCargile_jkt_promoThe Toy and the Twister
by Gillian King-Cargile; Illustrations by Kevin Krull
$18.99, hardcover, 36 pages
Northern Illinois University Press
In Book One of the “Stuffed Bunny Science Adventure Series,” a toy bunny named Bear gets sucked into a tornado and learns about extreme weather and storm safety. This fun, fast-paced adventure introduces young readers to weather and climate concepts aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Voiceover+Artist+Front+Cover+(1)The Voiceover Artist
by Dave Reidy
$15.95, paperback, 312 pages
Curbside Splendor
The Voiceover Artist follows Simon Davies as he attempts to become a famous voiceover artist despite a crippling, genetic stutter. Told through the perspective of the characters who weave in and out of Simon’s life, each with rich, and varied personalities, this book is a discussion on brotherhood, family, and fulfillment of dreams.

The White Islands/Las Islas Blancas
by Marjorie Agosín; Translated by Jaqueline Nanfito with an Afterword by Michal Held
$20, paperback, 224 pages
Swan Isle Press
Presented in a beautiful bilingual Spanish–English edition, Agosín’s poems speak to a wandering life of exile on distant shores. We hear the rhythm of the waves and the Ladino-inflected voices of Sephardi women past and present: Paloma, Estrella, and Luna in the fullness of their lives, loves, dreams, and faith. An evocative and sensual voyage to communities mostly lost after the Holocaust, The White Islands offers a lighthouse of remembrance, a lyrical world recovered with language and song, lament and joy, longing and hope.



century of progress 9781572844452A Century of Progress: A Photographic Tour of the 1933–34 Chicago World’s Fair
by Chicago Tribune Staff
$24.95, hardcover, 144 pages
Drawn from the Chicago Tribune’s vast archives, A Century of Progress is a collection of rare—and in many cases, previously unseen—photographs that document the Century of Progress International Exposition, the world’s fair held in Chicago from 1933 to 1934. Conceived during the Roaring Twenties and born during the Great Depression, this sprawling event celebrated the city’s centennial with industrial and scientific displays, lascivious entertainment, and a touch of unadulterated bad taste.

Dividing the Union: Jesse Burgess Thomas and the Making of the Missouri Compromisedividing the union-siu press
by Matthew W. Hall
$29.50, hardcover, 252 pages
Southern Illinois University Press
In Dividing the Union, Matthew W. Hall examines the legal issues underlying the controversy and the legislative history of the Missouri Compromise while focusing on the aspects of Thomas’s life and character that gave him such influence. The first in-depth biography of Thomas, Hall’s work demonstrates how the legislative battle over the Compromise reflected the underlying nuances of the larger struggle over slavery.

9780830840960Faith on the Road: A Short Theology of Travel and Justice
by Joerg Rieger; Foreword by Rev. Alexia Salvatierra
$18, paperback, 144 pages
IVP Academic
Millions of people travel every day, for what seem like millions of reasons. Some travel for pleasure, others travel for work and education, and many more travel to find a new job and a better life. In the United States, even those who don’t travel far still frequently find themselves on the move. What can we learn from these different forms of travel? And what can people of faith learn from the Christian and Jewish traditions that took shape on the road? From the exile from Eden to the wanderings of Jesus and his disciples, the story of Scripture is a dynamic narrative of ceaseless movement. Those who let themselves be inspired by this movement, and are willing to learn from others and from mistakes made in the process, are well positioned to make a difference in the world, not only at home but also around the globe.

For You Were StrangersFYWS prepub front cover FINAL
by D. M. Pirrone
$16.99, paperback, 320 pages
Allium Press of Chicago
The second book in the “Hanley & Rivka Mysteries” series. Set in Chicago in 1872, soon after the Great Chicago Fire of 1872.

My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music
by Steve Krakow; edited by J. C. Gabel; foreword by Jim DeRogatis
$24.95, paperback, 200 pages
Curbside Splendor
Culled from more than ten years of weekly Chicago Reader columns, My Kind of Sound will be “The Secret History of Chicago Music” compendium, profiling pivotal Chicago musicians who somehow have not gotten their just dues.

the 116 9781634251952The 116: The True Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Guard
by James P. Muehlberger
$24.95, hardcover, 320 pages
The 116 is the definitive account of the Frontier Guard who defended President Lincoln from a kidnapping and assassination plot in the opening days of the Civil War. Based on more than 500 original sources discovered at the Library of Congress, The 116 delves into the lives of these 116 men and their charismatic leader—Kansas “free state” advocate and lawyer Jim Lane. It paints a provocative portrait of the ‘civil war’ between Free-State and Pro-Slavery forces that tore Missouri and the Kansas Territory apart in the 1850s, and gives a vivid picture of the legal battles pertaining to the protection and abolition of slavery that riled Congress on both a federal and state level, eventually leading to the eruption of war in 1861.

Poor Workers’ Unions: Rebuilding Labor From Below (Tenth Anniversary Edition)poor workers union 9781608465200.01
by Vanessa Tait, Foreword by Bill Fletcher Jr. and Cristina Tzintzún
$19, hardcover, 300 pages
Haymarket Books
A classic account of low-wage workers’ organizing that the U.S. Department of Labor calls one of the “100 books that has shaped work in America.” As low-wage organizing campaigns have been reignited by the Fight for 15 movement and other workplace struggles, Poor Workers’ Unions is as prescient as ever.

Trusting the Tingles
by Andrea Wright
$14.99, paperback, 72 pages
220 Publishing (A Division of 220 Communications)
Writer Andrea Wright explores the ways we experience intuition in Trusting the Tingles, based on her blog of the same name.

—Kelli Christiansen


Filed under feature