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Adelmann, John (ed). THE DUBUQUE SHOT TOWER. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2011). 6x9. Over 60 images. 224 pages.

~~~ The George W. Rogers & Co. Shot Tower claims the distinction of being Dubuque’s most recognizable and enduring landmark. And while it only operated intermittently from 1856 to 1862, the Shot Tower continues to serve as a reminder of America’s vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of the mid-1800s. In order to preserve this local legacy and include it in the larger narrative of our national past, students from Central Alternative High School in Dubuque invested a year in 2005–6 to conduct research and tell the story. Their findings, combined with essays contributed by community experts, have been edited by John Adelmann into a first-of-its-kind book that presents a fascinating saga of the Shot Tower that has become greater than the sum of its myths and legends.


Brown, Harriet Connor, GRANDMOTHER BROWN'S HUNDRED YEARS 1827-1927.. VG. A tight, clean copy. Green, cloth-covered boards. (NY: Little, Brown & Company, 1930). Woodcuts & photographs, 369 pp.

~~~ The biography of a midwestern woman, Maria Brown, born in Athens, Ohio in 1827, who married and moved to Iowa in 1856. Includes a chapter-long account of Maria's parents who were among the first wave of settlers, many of whom were Revolutionary War veterans, who first cleared that section of the Northwest Territory in the 1780s. In recounting Maria Brown's life, her grand-daughter, Harriet Brown, provides innumerable details of farm and small town life as it existed in nineteenth-century Ohio and Iowa. $35.00


McCann, Linda. LOST BLACK HAWK COUNTY: Vanished Towns of the Cedar Valley. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2011). 6x9. 160 pages.
~~~ In 1850, visitors to Iowa’s Black Hawk County seemed as likely to run across traces of deer, elk, buffalo or beaver as they were to find evidence of the 135 settlers spread out over 567 square miles. While the human population has steadily grown since then, the roots of that habitation have been anything but fixed. Towns have sprung up and withered away, lacking the glamour and resources of neighboring communities (or maybe just their access to the railroad). Some of the places brought to life in Linda McCann’s history have only lain barely dormant in fond memories, while others represent a landscape even old-timers might be shocked to learn was there.


McCann, Linda. LOST BUTLER COUNTY: Vanished Towns of the Cedar Valley. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2010). 6x9. Over 30 images. 176 pages.
~~~ Eleanor, Clutterville and Bear Grove are names that younger Iowans might only know from conversations with elders who still remember the pull of those spots on the surrounding farm communities. Wind back the clock in the Cedar Valley to a time when Butler Center was the center of Butler County and Fort Eads and Pilot Rock were useful directions instead of faded memories. Astonished nostalgia awaits the reader in the panorama spread out in this chronicle. More than forty towns, stretching from Shell Rock to Cedar Falls, vanished when the railroad passed them by, and local historian Linda McCann reveals the various causes that contributed to the disappearance of these formerly thriving settlements.


Trollinger, Vernon. HAUNTED IOWA CITY. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2011). 6x9. Over 25 images. 112 pages.

~~~ Iowa City is rich in tradition, including a lively history of spooky tales and odd goings-on. Follow in the footsteps of the Wandering Cadaver and accompany the Whistling Janitor. Come up with an explanation for the leg bones encased in a tree. Meet ghosts Maude and George at their respective homes on Bloomington Street and at the Hall Mall. Shrink back against a wall in the Gaslight Village and then realize it is made from cemetery footstones. Pass into the shadow of the Black Angel. Join Vernon Trollinger in discovering the haunted past of Iowa City.


[Wood} R. Tripp Evans. GRANT WOOD: A Life. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. Small remainder mark. (NY: Knopf, 2010). Photographs, color plates. 432 pages.

~~~ He claimed to be “the plainest kind of fellow you can find. There isn’t a single thing I’ve done, or experienced,” said Grant Wood, “that’s been even the least bit exciting.”
~~~ Wood was one of America’s most famous regionalist painters; to love his work was the equivalent of loving America itself. In his time, he was an “almost mythical figure,” recognized most supremely for his hard-boiled farm scene, American Gothic, a painting that has come to reflect the essence of America’s traditional values—a simple, decent, homespun tribute to our lost agrarian age.
~~~ In this major new biography of America’s most acclaimed, and misunderstood, regionalist painter, Grant Wood is revealed to have been anything but plain, or simple . . .
~~~ R. Tripp Evans reveals the true complexity of the man and the image Wood so carefully constructed of himself. Grant Wood called himself a farmer-painter but farming held little interest for him. He appeared to be a self-taught painter with his scenes of farmlands, farm workers, and folklore but he was classically trained, a sophisticated artist who had studied the Old Masters and Flemish art as well as impressionism. He lived a bohemian life and painted in Paris and Munich in the 1920s, fleeing what H. L. Mencken referred to as “the booboisie” of small-town America.
~~~ We see Wood as an artist haunted and inspired by the images of childhood; by the complex relationship with his father (stern, pious, the “manliest of men”); with his sister and his beloved mother (Wood shared his studio and sleeping quarters with his mother until her death at seventy-seven; he was forty-four).
~~~ We see Wood’s homosexuality and how his studied masculinity was a ruse that shaped his work.
~~~ Here is Wood’s life and work explored more deeply and insightfully than ever before. Drawing on letters, the artist’s unfinished autobiography, his sister’s writings, and many never-before-seen documents, Evans’s book is a dimensional portrait of a deeply complicated artist who became a “National Symbol.” It is as well a portrait of the American art scene at a time when America’s Calvinistic spirit and provincialism saw Europe as decadent and artists were divided between red-blooded patriotic men and “hothouse aesthetes.”
~~~ Thomas Hart Benton said of Grant Wood: “When this new America looks back for landmarks to help gauge its forward footsteps, it will find a monument standing up in the midst of the wreckage . . . This monument will be made out of Grant Wood’s works.”


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