Today on Blogcritics
Home » Books » The Early Word: New Books for the Week of April 26, 2010

The Early Word: New Books for the Week of April 26, 2010

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

From Harper Lee to Toklas, Alice B., literary red-letter days this week include Ludwig Wittgenstein’s day of birth – from his “early” period, yet! — and Lester Bangs’ OD Anniversary; Herbert Spencer’s first day, fit for the rest of his survival; the last day of Hart Crane, trying not to burn any bridges; and Joseph Heller’s earliest, born to cross those bridges when he came to them — no catch. 

 Betsy Ross and the Making of America
by Marla R. Miller

The first needed embellishment – and a surefire dampening effect — upon your garden variety grade school lesson about the fabled creation of the American flag needs to start with the fact that Betsy Ross’ full name was Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole (1752-1836). If you’re still academically or inquisitively game to go on, University of Massachusetts historian Marla Miller's enticing Betsy Ross and the Making of America will bring you the definitive biography, thoroughly researched and richly detailed, of the credited and supposed seamstress of the Stars and Stripes. Actually, however, while we’re updating matters and setting the record straight, Ross made her living as an upholsterer (being one of several Philadelphians paid by the Continental Congress to make flags for the American forces during the Revolution), and furthermore, Miller cannot confirm the story of George Washington's visit to Betsy Ross in which she showed him that five-pointed stars were easier to make than the six-pointed ones he preferred.

The paucity of evidence Miller has for Betsy Ross’ reputed claim to fame is more than made up for in a broadened examination of the social and cultural history chronicling the Revolutionary era and the men and women who "went to work every day and took pride in a job well done." The changes – many traced through Ross’ many friends and relatives and other artisan families — in such areas as politics, religion, domestic life, and economic trends, are also assessed. But getting back to Ross herself, the all-embracing Betsy Ross and the Making of America includes a recounting of the subject's Quaker upbringing, her apprenticeship in the trade she would follow all her life, and her three marriages. Moreover, we get a look at conditions in an English prison where her second and third husbands were held during the war along with other captured American sailors; and Miller also delves into controversies within the Philadelphia Friends meeting, which had expelled Ross for marrying outside the congregation.

"Marla Miller's Betsy Ross and the Making of America is a stupendous literary achievement. It's not easy to accurately write about a real folk legend. Miller does so with historical accuracy, vivid descriptive language, and an encyclopedic knowledge of her subject. The Revolutionary War era comes alive in these fine pages!" –Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of America

MORE NONFICTION

The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me
by Bruce Feiler

The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern
by Victor Davis Hanson

Winston's War: Churchill, 1940-1945
by Max Hastings

Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq
by Dave Hnida

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
by Wes Moore

Getting the Pretty Back: Friendships, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick
by Molly Ringwald

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin
by Hampton Sides

Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power
by Gary Zukav

FICTION

Island Beneath the Sea
by Isabel Allende

The Carrie Diaries
by Candace Bushnell

Burned (House of Night Series #7)
by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast 

Reckless
by Andrew Gross

The God of the Hive
by Laurie R. King

Hannah's List
by Debbie Macomber

Return to Sender
by Fern Michaels

The 9th Judgment (Women's Murder Club Series #9)
by James Patterson

Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #8)
by J.R. Ward

Powered by

About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • http://www.lynnvoedisch.com Lynn Voedisch

    Looking forward to that Isabelle Allende book. And I wonder if Molly Ringwald can write. (I have an issue with celebrities as writers.)

    Lynn

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/gordon-hauptfleisch/ Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Maybe – but doesn’t her name look pretty in pink?