Movie of the Month: Funny Girl

The talented comedienne, Fanny Brice, works her way up from bit player in Vaudeville, to Broadway star, with the help of the powerful, Florenz Ziegfeld. As she rises, her marriage to the slick, imprisoned-businessman, Nick Arnstein deteriorates. Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif star.

 

 


 

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

  • “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. This final installment in the author’s prairie trilogy chronicles the lives of hardy 19th-century immigrants attempting to tame the wilds of Nebraska.
  • ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ by Herman Wouk. In this classic love story, a young Jewish woman in 1950s New York City seeks fame and fortune on the stage.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. How quintessentially “of the U.S.” is this tale of racism and hope set in the Deep South? In 2018, it was named the country’s “#1 Best-Loved Novel” by PBS’ Great American Read.

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more Patriot Picks >>

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

  • “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. This final installment in the author’s prairie trilogy chronicles the lives of hardy 19th-century immigrants attempting to tame the wilds of Nebraska.
  • ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ by Herman Wouk. In this classic love story, a young Jewish woman in 1950s New York City seeks fame and fortune on the stage.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. How quintessentially “of the U.S.” is this tale of racism and hope set in the Deep South? In 2018, it was named the country’s “#1 Best-Loved Novel” by PBS’ Great American Read.

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more Patriot Picks >>

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Patriotic Picks: August 2019

 

  • “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. This final installment in the author’s prairie trilogy chronicles the lives of hardy 19th-century immigrants attempting to tame the wilds of Nebraska.
  • ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ by Herman Wouk. In this classic love story, a young Jewish woman in 1950s New York City seeks fame and fortune on the stage.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. How quintessentially “of the U.S.” is this tale of racism and hope set in the Deep South? In 2018, it was named the country’s “#1 Best-Loved Novel” by PBS’ Great American Read.

See more Patriot Picks >>

History MattersAugust 15 to August 31, 2019

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, which took place on a farm in the town of Bethel, NY on August 15, 1969. Some parents may recall what a momentous event the three-day concert turned out to be, but many grandparents were probably among the more than 300,000 participants. Twenty-four rock bands performed, and their music—in time–partially defined the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s.

It was a significant episode in American history, one that is worth explaining to your children and grandchildren.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Three Day Summer, by Sarvenaz Tash.

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History MattersAugust 15 to August 31, 2019It’s a rough patch of history, but the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, is an important lesson for young people to absorb.

It all started on August 17, 1998 when Mr. Clinton became the first sitting president to appear before a grand jury that resulted in a far-reaching investigation of his alleged inappropriate conduct and, ultimately—his possible– removal from office. That night, after months of maintaining his innocence, Clinton delivered a televised speech in which he confessed to an improper relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and his conviction failed to happen.

For more detailed information, read Famous Trials—The Impeachment of Bill Clinton, by Nathan Aeseng.

 

 

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History MattersAugust 15 to August 31, 2019The British army took its revenge for an American attack on the city of York [Toronto] during the War of 1812 by invading Washington, D.C. and burning down the U.S. Capitol on August 24 and 25,1814. The White House and much of the City of Washington D.C. were incinerated, but the Americans defeated the British in 1815.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Burning of Washington: August 1814, by Mary Kay Phelan.

 

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History MattersAugust 15 to August 31, 2019One of the most important events that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement, was the March on Washington, on August 28, 1963. The movement had been underway almost ten years, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister and social activist, was well established as a leader in the struggle for equal rights. As a pre-eminent spokesman for the cause, King was selected to address the gathering of more than 250,000 supporters — men, women and children. He delivered a speech which he called I Have A Dream. It stirred the crowds and quickly became one of the most famous and important exemplars of oratory since Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

That story, and King’s influence on the Civil Rights is explained in David Aretha’s Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington.

 


August 1 to August 15, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

Co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize ‘practices what he preaches” writes engaging, historically accurate books for children

WASHINGTON, DC — David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize, practices what he preaches. He authors books which encourage young learners to love and understand America’s history in an era when teaching it in the classroom is on the decline.

His style and world-class illustrations provided by his mother, the renowned American artist, Clarice Smith, make their latest offering, Abigail & John, a must read for children of all ages, with the focus on young sons and daughters. The book tells the story of our second president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail. They were not just husband and wife; they were prolific collaborators who helped nurture the U.S. during its formative years.

Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the New York Times best seller, “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” says Abigail & John “is sure to give students new insights into the early years of our country’s history.” And, that was Smith’s intent when he and his mother set out to research, write, and illustrate the book.

Abigail & John is the author’s 12th work. His previous book–also a mother and son collaboration– was “American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall,” the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, has been called the “the forgotten founding father.”

EDITORS’ NOTE: For more information about Abigail & John visit the Grateful American Book Series Web site. It is published by Liberty Bell Press, an imprint of the Pike and Powder Publishing Group, LLC., Sales and Distribution by Simon & Schuster.

History MattersAugust 1 to August 15, 2019

The Declaration of Independence, which defines the meaning of being an American, was adopted by the Continental Congress on August 2, 1776. It was a bold statement affirming the right of our fledgling nation to form an independent government. It was created during the early days of the American Revolution, and its intent is an important lesson for young citizens.

For more information The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Our Independence and the Constitution, an engrossing read for students, that explains how the United States was begun.

 

 

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History MattersAugust 1 to August 15, 2019On August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office. The events which caused it tell a sad story, but they provide an important lesson in responsibility and morality.

For more information, read Jules Archer’s Watergate: A Story of Richard Nixon and the Shocking 1972 Scandal.

 

 

 

 

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History MattersAugust 1 to August 15, 2019Frederick Douglass was a slave who escaped from his owners, eventually got his freedom, and became an eloquent spokesperson for slaves still held captive in the south. On August 11, 1841, at the age of 23, Douglass addressed an anti-slavery convention in Massachusetts. His description of his previous existence was so powerful that he became a full-time lecturer who traveled all over the country.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Elisabeth P. Myers’s Frederick Douglass: Young Defender of Human Rights for teens and pre-teens.

 

 

 

 


August 1 to August 15, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

50 States of True Crime

Every state has an infamous crime — and a book about it.

By Tina Jordan and Ross MacDonald for The New York Times
July 26, 2019

From the safety of your armchair, lose yourself in some classic — and completely terrifying — real-life stories of murder, mayhem, corruption, arson and robbery.

Alabama
Bryan Stevenson, “Just Mercy”

This memoir of an activist lawyer is essentially “the story of Walter McMillian, whom Stevenson began representing in the late 1980s when he was on death row for killing a young white woman in Monroe­ville, Ala., the hometown of Harper Lee.”

Alaska
Tom Kizzia, “Pilgrim’s Wilderness”

“Not since ‘The Shining’ has family life off the grid seemed as terrifying as it does in ‘Pilgrim’s Wilderness,’ about a homesteading family in which things have gone very, very wrong.”

Arizona
Zachary Lazar, “Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder”

“Lazar’s father died in 1975 of distinctly unnatural causes in a stairwell at a Phoenix parking garage. His name was Ed Lazar, and he was an accountant with ties to the once-booming land-fraud community in Arizona.”

Arkansas
Mara Leveritt, “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three”

Leveritt unravels a sensational case in West Memphis, Ark., where three teenage boys were tried and convicted in the 1992 murders of three 8-year-old boys.

California
Jeffrey Toobin, “American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst”

“Was Patricia Hearst responsible for her crimes, or was she a victim who did what she needed to do to survive? Or is the truth somewhere in between? … Toobin uses his knowledge of the justice system and his examination of the evidence to pierce the veil of spectacle and make sense of many contradictory elements.”

Colorado
Dave Cullen, “Columbine”

“The broad outlines of what happened at Columbine High School in Colorado … are well known. Yet what’s amazing is how much of Cullen’s book still comes as a surprise.”

Connecticut
Joan Barthel, “A Death in Canaan”

In 1973, Peter Kelly — 18 — was arrested and charged with his mother’s vicious murder. “Convinced of Peter’s innocence as they were incensed by the overzealousness of the state police, citizens of the small, western Connecticut community in which he and his unmarried mother lived alone joined together to raise his bond money, hire him a lawyer and get him out of jail.”

Delaware
Ann Rule, “And Never Let Her Go”

Anne Marie Fahey was a young secretary working for the governor of Delaware when she met Tom Capano, a wealthy attorney and former state prosecutor who turned out to be a psychopath.

Florida
Maureen Orth, “Vulgar Favors”

In this deconstruction of Andrew Cunanan’s killing spree and suicide, “the breadth and thoroughness of Orth’s research are often staggering.”

Georgia
John Berendt, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story”

Berendt’s book, “a combination of true crime and travelogue,” follows the case of Jim Williams, a rich antiques dealer “charged in the 1981 shooting of Danny Hansford, a tempestuous young man known as ‘a walking streak of sex’ to both men and women in town.”

In this “honest, creepily fascinating memoir/true-crime story,” Spalding recalls the time she spent serving on the jury of a murder trial, and goes back to reinvestigate the crime.

“A compelling account of the killing of two game wardens in early 1981 in an Idaho desert by a ‘mountain man’ named Claude Dallas.”

“‘The Devil in the White City,’ a book as lively as its title, has the inspiration to combine two distantly related late-19th-century stories into a narrative that is anything but quaint. One describes planning and preparation for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. … The book’s other path follows a prototypical American serial killer who … built and operated a conveniently located World’s Fair Hotel, complete with walk-in vault, greased wooden chute and person-sized basement kiln. As for where this would lead, ‘only Poe could have dreamed the rest.’”

“By 1868 the formerly quiet town of Indianapolis was becoming ‘a city of strangers,’ and nearby Cold Spring was a more inviting place to settle — except for that blood-soaked patch of ground on the west bank of the White River where the bodies of Jacob and Janey Young were found on the morning of Sept. 13.”

In 1900, the brutal murder of the farmer John Hossack galvanized Iowa — especially after it appeared that his wife, Margaret, had been the one to bludgeon him to death.

Capote’s famous “nonfiction novel” about the Clutter murders got a rave review in The Times, which called it “a grieving testament of faith in what used to be called the soul.”

Sharkey’s tale of an F.B.I. agent-turned-criminal is “a close examination of the mind of an ordinary man driven to an extraordinary act.”

The women — “all prostitutes and drug addicts, which made them vulnerable and defenseless, expendable in a jurisdiction that’s centrally positioned along the route of the Gulf Coast drug trade” — were killed between 2005 and 2009.

“In the early morning of May 12, 1994, Sarah Perry’s 30-year-old mother, Crystal, was stabbed to death in her home, while Sarah, who was 12 at the time, sat frozen on her bed on the other side of a thin wall. The murder, which went unsolved for 12 years, marked Perry, infecting her with a ‘viscous blackness’ unleashed by the killer’s act. Like the partial solar eclipse Perry and her mother witnessed two days before the murder, this blackness blotted out the daughter’s and the mother’s former selves. ‘After the Eclipse’ is Perry’s effort to look behind this shadow.”

In 1988, when he was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, Simon followed a squad of homicide detectives in Baltimore, “chronicling the mind-numbing violence that has become synonymous with virtually every American city.”

“The Brothers” examines how ­Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, became the Boston Marathon Bombers.

“In March 1969, Jane Mixer, a 23-year-old University of Michigan law school student, signed up on a campus ride-board to travel home for spring break. Soon after, her body was found with two bullets in her brain and a stocking so ambitiously wound around her neck that her head was nearly severed.” Thirty-five years later, thanks to a DNA match, someone was finally arrested for the crime.

“This is the dark side of Lake Wobegon. The victims and villains of ‘Final Harvest’ are not stronger, smarter or above average. Like other Americans, they were swept up in the tornado of social and economic change in American agriculture.”

When the white supremacist Richard Barrett was murdered, “a young black man, Vincent McGee, was accused and convicted of the killing. Supposed motive: Mr. McGee’s anger at being underpaid for maintenance work Mr. Barrett had hired him to do. But the situation was so full of unanswered questions that it brought out Mr. Safran’s inner Truman Capote.”

In an area of the Ozarks blighted by poverty and crime, a local Vietnam vet went on a killing spree. Cuneo decided to find out why.

“Krakauer looks at the University of Montana, the local police and the prosecutor’s office through the eyes of five women who reported rapes or attempted rapes between 2010 and 2012.”

Eli Stutzman was a respected Amish farmer. He was also, as it turns out, a murderer.

“Viewed in the proper perspective, Pileggi’s story is a morality tale about two men who tried to begin their lives anew by moving to Las Vegas, that ‘city with no memory,’ Pileggi calls it, ‘the nation’s only morality car wash.’ One of the men was brains, the other muscle, but each left his lasting mark on America’s gambling capital.”

“The murders of Half and Susanne Zantop, popular professors at Dartmouth, stunned the residents of somnolent Hanover, N.H., where only four murders had been committed in the last century.”

“In 2003, the world discovered what a night nurse named Charles Cullen had been doing during the preceding 16 years. He had killed a judge, a priest and an unknown but large number of other people. He may have been the most prolific serial killer in history.”

“Two buddies on a camping trip wound up stranded in the desert. They became so desperate that Raffi Kodikian stabbed David Coughlin in the heart, purportedly as an act of mercy killing. The setting was Rattlesnake Canyon in New Mexico, described here as a crack in the landscape and ‘a moral fracture as well.’”

“In mid-December 2010, the Suffolk County police discovered the bodies of four women, each wrapped in burlap, on a desolate, bramble-covered stretch of sand called Gilgo Beach. It was a gothic whodunit for the internet age, replete with prostitutes, drugs, family dysfunction, investigative incompetence, not to mention a strange, insular beach community and, of course, the websites of Craigslist and Backpage, where the women had advertised for customers.”

“When a wealthy mother and daughter were gunned down gangland-style at their Louisville, Ky., home in 1984 with no obvious motive, a detective predicted: ‘That family has a dark cloud in it somewhere. Find that cloud and you’ve found your killer.’ It was not until 10 months later, in the wake of a seemingly unrelated triple murder in Winston-Salem, N.C., that the dark cloud emerged.”

Homicides are rare in North Dakota, so when three people from the same small town were killed, everyone in the state paid attention.

In 1977, “in a period of eight days, two women, one a nurse, the other an optometry student, had been kidnapped, compelled under threat of death to cash checks at various suburban banks, robbed and raped.” The man arrested for the crimes, William Stanley Milligan, “became the first person in this country’s history to be declared not guilty by reason of insanity on the grounds of a psychiatric diagnosis of ‘multiple personality.’”

“Grann’s book, about how dozens of members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s were shot, poisoned or blown to bits by rapacious whites who coveted the oil under their land, is close to impeccable. It’s confident, fluid in its dynamics, light on its feet.”

In 1977, Jentz and a fellow college student, on a 4,200-mile bike journey, were attacked by an ax-wielding stranger: “Understatement is the quiet power that fuels Jentz’s writing, and our rage as we read it. Here is a woman viewing the aftermath of her attempted killing through the smeary haze of her own blood.”

“Equal parts serious journalism and sisterly sass, ‘Busted’ is a personable and fast-reading ride along with two Philadelphia Daily News journalists as they chase a police corruption story down the rabbit hole.”

“Two very short sections open Leah Carroll’s memoir: the description of her mother’s murder in a seedy hotel room, and the description of her father’s death in an equally seedy hotel room 14 years later. Carroll proceeds from these haunting twin plot points through a patchwork of vignettes, reportage and reflection that reaches after her absent parents with sensitive longing.”

In a 1994 case that riveted the nation, a hysterical Susan Smith told police officers that her car had been stolen with her two small sons still inside it. As it turned out, something quite different had happened.

Late one night in 1973, four teenagers sitting around a campfire at a South Dakota state park were gunned down. A fifth, called the “Gitchie Girl,” survived.

“A tale of sexual assault, greed, power, political corruption and drug addiction unfolded daily for years in the unassuming, sleepy little town of Dyersburg, Tenn., in the chambers of a venerable judge.”

“A fast-paced true-crime tale about a Mexican drug cartel and the Texas cops who chase it. … Del Bosque based her account on scores of personal interviews and reams of court documents, and proves herself fluent in detailing the exceedingly different, but equally rich, milieus of cartel kingpins, Texas equestrians and federal investigators.”

“A compelling volume that traces the sad, violent history of the Gilmore family and shows, in its author’s words, ‘how its webwork of dark secrets and failed hopes helped create the legacy that, in part, became my brother’s impetus to murder.’”

In 1981, a rape and murder case rocked a small town in Vermont when the perpetrators were discovered to be 15 and 16 years old.

Hesse’s tale of an arson spree in Accomack County, Va., “has all the elements of a lively crime procedural: courtroom drama, forensic trivia, toothsome gossip, vexed sex.”

In his examination of the murder of two young women in Seattle, Sanders — a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist — discovered that the killer, who was mentally ill, was not getting the treatment he needed for his disease.

Sidiropolis explores what life was like in Wheeling, W.Va., in the early 1900s, when murder and corruption were rampant and the city was ruled by organized crime.

A biography of Wisconsin’s most prolific serial killer, who was also known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal.”

In one of Wyoming’s most notorious cases, two sisters were abducted and thrown off a bridge — and one of them lived to identify her attackers.

50 States of True Crime