Delve into history at your local library this summer

843-255-6490July 7, 2013 

Summer is an excellent time to dig into history. Nothing is more relaxing than a day of reading, whether at the beach, in the mountains, in a foreign country or at home. There are several intriguing biographies to consider. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872 and died in 1933. Amity Shlaes has written an excellent work on the 30th president of the United States, titled "Coolidge." Shlaes also wrote "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression." Both are eminently readable books on people and events in the 1920s.

If you enjoy European history on the eve of World War II, try "The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris," by Jonathan Kirsch. This is a recount of a forgotten incident in 1938 that foreshadowed the Holocaust.

Read about a true American hero in "Lt. Bill Farrow: Doolittle Raider," by John Chandler Griffin. Farrow was a 22-year-old South Carolina pilot who volunteered to fly a B-25 on a bombing raid on Tokyo during WWII.

Two entertaining, yet powerful, biographies take place in southern Africa. Alexandra Fuller writes about growing up in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) during the turmoil of the 1970s in "Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood." "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness" is about her parents' unforgettable experiences in Africa.

July 1 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This battle was arguably the most significant battle of the Civil War and turned the tide in favor of the Union. Certainly, it was the most deadly. The Union suffered more than 23,000 casualties and the Confederates more than 28,000. Any book encompassing this subject by Shelby Foote and James McPherson would be worthwhile. "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion," by Allen Guelzo has recently been published. Stephen Sear's Gettysburg was published for the 140th anniversary.

On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot at a train station in Washington, D.C. He survived for two months. The assassin's bullet and the poor medical care that the President received were factors in Garfield's tragic and untimely death. Read Candice Millard's "Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President."

July is the birth month of Nelson Mandela (1918). Given his stature, plenty of books have been written on this remarkable man. Noteworthy are "Long Walk to Freedom," his autobiography, and "Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation," by John Carlin, an account of how he used the success of the national rugby team to heal the scars of apartheid.

Do you remember where you were on July 20, 1969? On that date, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Estimates are that 500 million people were watching the event on TV. His life is chronicled in "First Man: The life of Neil Armstrong," by James Hansen. Also, try "The First Men on the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11," by David Harland.

Bratton DeLoach is a reference librarian at the Bluffton library.

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