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September 2018 Reading List

Invading Paradise:Esopus Settlers at War with Natives, 1659, 1663 by Andrew Brink – A review of the causes of the two Esopus Wars in what are now present day Kingston and Hurley in Ulster County, New York. I recently discovered that I’m descended from the original Dutch settlers in New York and, because they were so prolific and thorough in record keeping, my 7th, 8th and 9th great grandparents, aunts and uncles are all over the history books. Pretty neat. This book discusses specific immigrants / settlers (my fam!) and their challenges, motives and more. There is some discussion about PTSD which surely they suffered from after some  horrific attacks on their settlement which included my 8th great uncle being tortured and burned alive, slaughtering and capture of women and children and, well, some brutal stuff. From the author, “Were they prepared for what confronted them upon acquiring native agricultural lands? Readers are invited to consider exactly what happened to bring on violence.”

Educated by Tara Westover – A memoir that is generating so much positive buzz, including accolades from President Obama. Whoa. How lovely for her. She grew up in a Morman fundamentalist survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho. Off the grid and unschooled. It’s a stressful book to read as it contains so much abuse and neglect that is, of course, familiar. It’s also incredibly  frustrating especially as I deal with my mom’s pathological need to keep up of appearance and have everything be cool even as she’s standing on hot lava. The author does a wonderful job of detailing without judgment and, with the help of some folks along the way, how she became educated.

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean –  Dean profiles 10 women (not necessarily “feminists”) who contributed to “cultural and intellectual history”. I liked the structure –a chapter profiling one woman, then the next and so on. However the author drops in interactions, influences and disagreements from one to the next, linking them all together. There were lots of interesting facts and some women I actually hadn’t heard of. I can’t say it was the most riveting read, but it was a nice compilation of literary women over the last several decades.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner – I’m studying the Civil War and Reconstruction at Columbia. This book is written by my professor and is a comprehensive, yet succinct overview of Lincoln’s political evolution. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History, so yeah, it’s very readable and a good substitute if you can’t take the courses at Columbia. Prof. Foner is a smart cookie. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from him. 

Legends of the Shawangunk (Shon-Gum) and its environs, including historical sketches, biographical notices, and thrilling border incidents and adventures relating to those portions of the counties of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan lying in the Shawangunk region by Smith, Philip H. (Philip Henry), b. 1842 – Just a little light history reading about my ancestors during the Esopus Indian Wars and the history of the surrounding areas where my cabin is.

Re: the Esopus Indian Wars: This book is available online (click link above) and there are two short chapters detailing the conflicts with the Dutch and Esopus Indians starting with page 15. It is all so graphic and horrific, but made doubly tragic by the fact that they lived in harmony before the introduction of alcohol to the Indians who became violent and “mad” when drunk. Then the English took over power of Wiltwyck (renaming it to Kingston) and wiped out the Esopus altogether. Terribly bloody and horrific and unnecessary. 

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