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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 10:19 am

Murder, intrigue, history, war & politics

Our annual book issue featuring local books and authors


This year’s crop of Illinois books and Illinois authors is particularly rich and interesting.

To put Illinoisans in the spirit of the season, University of Illinois Press offers Christmas in Illinois: A Collection of Holiday Memories, Recipes and Images. There are memories of Christmas in Kaskaskia in 1700, an 1860 Christmas brawl in Springfield, and West Frankfort’s Black Christmas of 1951 when 119 were killed in a coal mine disaster. Happier memories are in the eating section, where an essayist writes, “We ate until we couldn’t move, returning the shared language of love our grandmothers understood.”

Abraham Lincoln was an Illinois reader, as Robert Bray details in one of two Lincoln books offered by Southern Illinois University Press and reviewed here. The contrasting images of Lincoln reading a borrowed and worn edition of Shakespeare in New Salem, and a finely bound edition in the White House tells a story of the man’s rise, aided by literature.

The days when you could order a pre-cut home from a catalogue are recalled in Corinne Frisch’s review of Sears Homes of Illinois, and we’ve included addresses where you can find Sears homes in Springfield. There’s more local history in the new Arcadia Press photo book, Route 66 in Springfield, reviewed along with Illinois Times columnist Tara McClellan McAndrew’s Stories of Springfield.

And there’s plenty more here for Illinois book lovers. The books of Illinois, taken together, tell the story of the state. That story of those books starts here.

–Fletcher Farrar, editor


Reading with Lincoln
by Robert Bray
reviewed by Julie Cellini

Sears Homes of Illinois
by Rosemary Thornton
reviewed by Corrine Frisch

Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science, and Religion
by James Lander
reviewed by Julie Cellini

Christmas in Illinois
edited by James Ballowe
reviewed by Julianne Glatz

Dapper and Dangerous: The True Story of Black Charlie Harris
by Taylor Pensoneau
reviewed by Patrick Yeagle

Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The secret legacy of coal in the heartland
by Jeff Biggers
reviewed by Rachel Wells

Illinois Politics: A Citizen’s Guide
by James D. Nowlan, Samuel K. Gove and Richard J. Winkel Jr.
reviewed by Robert E. Hartley

The Legend of Lovea Duval
by Mike Shepherd
reviewed by Job Conger

Rt. 66 in Springfield
by Cheryl Eichar Jett
reviewed by Corrine Frisch

Stories of Springfield
by Tara McClellan McAndrew
reviewed by Corrine Frisch

 See all of the articles here.


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