non-fiction book related to an event that happened in the U.S between 1850-1929?
September 2, 2004 4:43 PM   Subscribe

My high-school freshman niece has a cool assignment: She has to read a non-fiction book related to an event that happened in the U.S between 1850-1929. Could also be about events that occured outside of the U.S. but that are of significant national importance. Must have at least 150 pages. Biographies OK but not preferred. I sent her a couple of ideas (Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, Titanic, women's suffrage), but would love any other ideas, especially specific book titles that would engage a young girl. Thanks for any ideas!
posted by GaelFC to Education (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The Haymarket Tragedy by Paul Avrich. Although it is centered on 8 men tried for a crime they did not commit, it includes much on the women involved.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:57 PM on September 2, 2004


I've always been fascinated by John Brown and the raid on Harper's Ferry. Here's a suggestion for the text:
Secret Six
posted by tetsuo at 5:30 PM on September 2, 2004




by the way - the two titles I suggested do not have "wonderful and exciting" titles, although they will most certainly make her say, "this happened in America???"

which is always cool to hear from a teenager.
posted by bradth27 at 5:35 PM on September 2, 2004


Oh, Sacco, Vanzetti,
Hey, Sacco, Vanzetti,
Nicola Sacco, Bart Vanzetti,
I just want to sing your name.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:48 PM on September 2, 2004


Two really well-written and engaging books on US historical events that I've read recently are Eleanor Clift's Founding Sisters (about the women's suffrage movement), and Charles Higham's Murdering Mr. Lincoln.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:50 PM on September 2, 2004


There are various Slave Narratives. Some of the best may well be those interviewed during the depression-era New Deal make-work projects: the Federal Writers Project. A selection of the writings is available at the Online Anthology.

It's a fascinating bit of reading, particularly combined with Gone with the Wind and The Wind Done Gone.

Too, slavery/end of slavery is probably tied for being the most important social change in the United States, along with the sufferage movement.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on September 2, 2004


The Johnstown Flood is a good event. An Amazon Search turns up a few hits, and there's at least one book for an OCLC library search.

And I sooo wish that 1949 was included in that range. Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire would be excellent reading.
posted by weston at 6:16 PM on September 2, 2004


Time Lord : Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time
It is difficult today to imagine life before standard time was established in 1884. In the middle of the nineteenth century, for example, there were 144 official time zones in North America alone. The confusion that ensued, especially among the burgeoning railroad companies, was an hourly comedy of errors that ultimately threatened to impede progress. The creation of standard time, with its two dozen global time zones, is one of the great inventions of the Victorian Era, yet it has been largely taken for granted.
posted by geekyguy at 6:21 PM on September 2, 2004


Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist by Alexander Berkman, available free online.

Memoir of a man that spent 22 years in prison for the 1892 attempted assination of industrialist Henry Frick, as revenge for the murder of union workers during the "Battle of Homestead".
posted by bobo123 at 6:39 PM on September 2, 2004


The Red Scare of the 1920s. Amazing parallels to today.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:43 PM on September 2, 2004


The recent (and much discussed here) Devil in the White City might be a good choice. The events are true and it reads like a thriller (in case your niece isn't an enthusiastic reader). There's also a great personal angle for her report: Holmes' victims were girls your niece's age.
posted by JollyWanker at 6:50 PM on September 2, 2004


The Tunguska Event.
posted by trondant at 7:27 PM on September 2, 2004


The Pity of War.

Sure, it's Niall, but it was before he sold his soul to Empire.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:33 PM on September 2, 2004


The Saga of William Walker and his exploits on behalf of American interests is included in almost every South American/Latin American course of study. Close to Biography, but little know stories of Manifest Destiny.
posted by Duck_Lips at 7:34 PM on September 2, 2004


Oh, another good book I read was Ben MacIntyre's The Man Who Would Be King, about American Josiah Harlan's adventures in 19th century Afghanistan.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:39 PM on September 2, 2004


Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, by Shelby Foote. This is excerpted from his 3-volume history of the Civil War.

Son of the Morning Star, by Evan S. Connell. Biography of Custer.

Isaac's Storm, by Erik Carlson. Story of the 1900 Galveston hurricane.

Gangs of New York, by Herbert Asbury. Nothing like the movie. Written in 1928.

Nothing Like It in the World, by Stephen Ambrose. Building the intercontinental railroad.

Great Bridge, by David McCullough. Story of the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by joaquim at 7:41 PM on September 2, 2004


The Spanish American War, too.
posted by weston at 8:18 PM on September 2, 2004


What a great thread...
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown. 1860 -1890. It’s dark but a high school freshman will have no trouble reading it.
posted by jabo at 8:31 PM on September 2, 2004


Thanks, all, I'll pass along the ideas!
posted by GaelFC at 8:37 PM on September 2, 2004


I'm sure there must be a book about the Great Molasses Flood in Boston, 1919. Several people killed, many more injured, huge amounts of property damage, and a smell that some claim still remains.
posted by advil at 8:40 PM on September 2, 2004


Oops
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.
Sorry :(
posted by jabo at 8:50 PM on September 2, 2004


Nicholas and Alexandra
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:47 PM on September 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) - a book about the conditions in the meatpacking district of Chicago. The book led to a government investigation about the meatpacking industry and as a result of this, food laws were changed. This book could be compared with Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, written almost 100 years later. I haven't read The Jungle, I just mention it because I'd like to read it myself sometime.
posted by Termite at 11:02 PM on September 2, 2004


The Great Molasses Flood.
posted by headspace at 5:45 AM on September 3, 2004


Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) - a book about the conditions in the meatpacking district of Chicago. The book led to a government investigation about the meatpacking industry and as a result of this, food laws were changed. This book could be compared with Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, written almost 100 years later. I haven't read The Jungle, I just mention it because I'd like to read it myself sometime.

The Jungle is actually written as a fictional account. It's still representative of what the conditions were and very damning of the industry at the time, but wouldn't qualify here.

Tim Madigan's The Burning is a thorough and well-written account of one of the least known yet worst Race Riots of the early 1900's. Gives a lot of information about other race relations in the 'teens and twenties around the country at that time. I really enjoyed it.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:14 AM on September 3, 2004




oh dear, didn't mean to imply that margaret sanger was some sort of true crime figure. . .
posted by crush-onastick at 9:17 AM on September 3, 2004


The Chicago World's Fair is pretty interesting.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2004


Leo Frank (prejudice and injustice)

the 1913 Armory Show
(if she's into art, especially)

a timeline of the 20s (a very eventful era, tons of topics there, from suffragettes and prohibition to red scares, etc)

Emma Goldman might be good too
posted by amberglow at 3:16 PM on September 3, 2004


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