Reading Guide a statewide program for the Illinois State Library Network of Talking Book and Braille Libraries



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2015 Statewide Talking Book Center

Adult Winter Reading Program

United & Brave

Celebrating Nationalism and the End of the Civil War at the Library



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Antebellum, the Conflict, Giants in Wartime,

the Aftermath, Emancipation, Reconstruction & the Gilded Age and Celebrating Our Nation
Reading Guide
A statewide program for the Illinois State Library

Network of Talking Book and Braille Libraries



Serving the Print Impaired*

Antebellum:
Setting of the Stage


DB 66962
Prelude to Civil War: the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836
by William W. Freehling

Study of the role of the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina in 1832-1833 that almost led to the state’s secession from the union. Discusses the tariffs that caused economic ruin, the fear of abolitionists, the conflict between Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, and slave conspiracies. Bancroft Prize.

DB 67809
Death Walked In: a Death on Demand Mystery
by Carolyn Hart

A woman alerts PI Max Darling that she has hidden something in the Franklin house, an antebellum mansion Max and his wife Annie are restoring. Annie contacts the woman, finds her dying, and searches for clues--especially since a heist of gold coins has occurred recently.

DB 72092
Parrot and Olivier in America: a Novel
by Peter Carey

1830s. Young French nobleman Olivier de Garmont travels to America with his older British secretary Parrot to research a book on the penal system and the American democratic experiment. In their alternating voices, Olivier and Parrot recount their picaresque adventures--past and present. Some descriptions of sex. Nat’l Book Award finalist.

DB 67259
Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement
by Sally McMillen

History of the 1848 Seneca Falls convention that galvanized the women’s rights movement in America. Highlights the work of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. Describes the social and legal injustices women faced and the Civil War’s effect on the movement.

DB 68150
Stand the Storm: a Novel
by Breena Clarke

Washington, D.C. Ten-year-old Gabriel Coats’s master hires Gabriel out to a Georgetown tailor. Gabriel eventually buys his freedom, but as war approaches, he struggles to safeguard his status and his family. Some violence and some descriptions of sex.
DB 76389
Freedom’s Cap: the United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War
by Guy Gugliotta

Account of the 1850-1863 rebuilding of the U.S. Capitol while the country was debating the future of slavery. Discusses the role of Mississippi senator-turned-Secretary of War Jefferson Davis and the rivalry between Army captain Montgomery C. Meigs, the chief engineer, and architect Thomas U. Walter.

DB 69274
Mrs. Dred Scott: a Life on Slavery’s Frontier
by Lea VanderVelde

Law professor portrays Harriet Scott’s life and role in the landmark slavery case that was rejected in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1857 decision. Describes Harriet’s children, daily living, and servitude in Sioux territory and on military outposts. Speculates on possible reasons the Scotts first filed suit in St. Louis.

DB 77431
The Good Lord Bird: a Novel
by James McBride

1856. Henry "Onion" Shackleford is a ten-year-old slave when abolitionist John Brown rolls into town. Henry’s father is killed in a scuffle and John Brown takes in Henry, believing him to be "Henrietta." Living as a girl, Henry bears witness to Brown’s reign of terror. Violence and strong language. National Book Award.

DB 79152
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery
by Albert Marrin

Examines the life of abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859) and the raid he led on the United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1859. Explores his religious zealotry, his belief in "righteous violence," and his commitment to domestic terrorism. Some violence.

DB 66230
The Road to Disunion Volume I
by William W. Freehling

Historian analyzes the southern traditions, politics, diversity, and events that led to the American Civil War. Highlights the differences between the Deep South and the more northern states on issues that created national crises, including slavery, Jacksonian democracy, federal laws, and nullification and secession.

DB 66449
The Road to Disunion: Volume II
by William W. Freehling

Historian Freehling continues his examination of antebellum politics, proslavery ideology, and the South’s efforts to forge a "single civilization." Highlights differences among the southern states and discusses the Deep South’s fear that Abraham Lincoln’s Republicans would convince border states to abolish slavery.

DB 59236
Always
by Jude Deveraux

FBI agent Jack Hallbrooke teams up with psychic Darci Montgomery to find his kidnapped father. They accidentally travel back in time to 1843, where Jack discovers his true love and Darci continues her search for her missing husband, Adam. Some strong language. Bestseller.

DB 78186
The Last Runaway: a Novel
by Tracy Chevalier

1850. Quaker Honor Bright accompanies her sister Grace from England to Ohio, where Grace will marry her fiancé. Grace dies before they reach the town of Faithwell, but Honor decides to stay. There, she becomes involved in the Underground Railroad and wrestles with her conscience. Some violence.

DB 66926
The Growth of Southern Civilization, 1790-1860
by Clement Eaton

Antebellum history of the American South uses original sources to portray its broad variety of geographic, ethnic, and economic cultures, consisting of rice planters, tobacco farmers, poor whites, Creoles, slaves, a middle class, and city folk.

DB 67315
Dance on the Wind: a Novel
by Terry C. Johnston

1800s. Sixteen-year-old Titus Bass runs away from his Kentucky home to seek adventure downriver. He joins a flatboat crew traveling the Ohio and Mississippi rivers toward a dangerous, rough-and-tumble country full of bandits and Indians. Some explicit descriptions of sex, some violence, and some strong language.

DB 33542
The Californios: a Novel
by Louis L’Amour

In 1844 Eileen Mulkerin, her sons Michael and Sean, and an old Indian are the only ones who believe that there is gold in California. The Mulkerins need it badly to keep their ranch in Malibu. With the help of an Indian, who has mystical powers and a willingness to help them find the treasure, the family confronts a band of frontier enemies interested in their land and the possibility of gold. Some violence.

DB 67413
A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation
by Catherine Allgor

Biography of Dolley Madison (1768-1849), the fourth American first lady, who became known as "America’s queen." Highlights Madison’s use of social skills to influence politics and advance her husband’s career.

DB 74172
The Sisters Brothers: a Novel
by Patrick deWitt

In 1851, a man known as the Commodore commissions hit men Eli and Charlie Sisters to kill gold miner Hermann Warm. As they ride to San Francisco the brothers bicker and encounter a variety of violent and eccentric characters. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex.

DB 67564
The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family
by Annette Gordon-Reed

African American professor chronicles four generations of the mixed-race Hemings family of Virginia in the context of slavery. Begins with Elizabeth (1735-1807), the daughter of a white man and a slave. Discusses Elizabeth’s children, including Sally Hemings--Thomas Jefferson’s mistress and his late wife’s half sister.

DB 67805
The Rocky Mountain Company: a Novel
by Richard S. Wheeler

1841. Businessman Guy Straus and his partners, frontiersman Brokenleg Fitzhugh and fur trader Jamie Dance, form the Rocky Mountain Trading Company and head west with their wives to open a trading post. But they face many obstacles, including deceptive Indians, murderous rivals, and a lone gunman bent on revenge.

DB 67920
The Training Ground
by Martin Dugard

Author posits that young West Point graduates’ experiences fighting on the battlefields of Mexico molded them into the great generals and statesmen they became during the United States Civil War. Discusses the roles of Grant, Lee, Sherman, Jackson, and Davis in specific Mexican battles.

DB 68230
Western Union: a Novel
by Zane Grey

1861. Wayne Cameron leaves Boston to seek his fortune out West. The tenderfoot joins a crew of Western Union workers constructing a telegraph line along the Oregon Trail. Wayne and his friends cross hundreds of miles of mountains and treeless plains full of buffalo, hostile Indians, and other perils.

DB 68280
Carolina Clay: the Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave
by Leonard Todd

Author Todd portrays the life of an early-nineteenth-century South Carolina slave and acclaimed potter named Dave, who was owned by Todd’s ancestors. Describes the ceramic vessels, many of which Dave inscribed with his name and original poetry--even though slave literacy was illegal. Uses primary sources to reconstruct the era.

DB 68467
Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson
by David S. Reynolds

Award-winning historian and author of Walt Whitman’s America (RC 41371) chronicles the cultural transformation of U.S. society between 1815 and 1848. Describes immigration, religious revivals, economic growth, transportation advances, a literature and art renaissance, and the addition of new states. Highlights the rise of Andrew Jackson and his policies.

DB 69986
The Big Sky: a Novel
by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

1830s. Seventeen-year-old Boone Caudill heads west from Kentucky after trying to kill his strict father. Boone travels the Missouri River to the Rockies, joins other mountain men, takes a native wife, and becomes as harsh as the wilderness. Includes Wallace Stegner’s 1965 foreword. Some violence and some strong language

DB 69019
Crazy Horse: a Lakota Life
by Kingsley M. Bray

Documents the life of the Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse (1842-1877) from primary sources including oral histories. Traces the spiritual beliefs and armed conflicts that influenced the war chief until his death the year after the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Violence. Spur Award.

DB 70129
Woodsburner: a Novel
by John Pipkin

A fictional account of the forest fire started irresponsibly by twenty-six-year-old Henry David Thoreau that almost burned Concord, Massachusetts, on a windy April day in 1844. The fire affects the lives of three people, a Norwegian farmhand, a bookseller and aspiring playwright, and a preacher, as they respond to the disaster.

DB 70560
The Chains of Sarai Stone: a Novel
by Cynthia Haseloff

1861. Twenty-five years ago, Indian raiders massacred Silas Stone’s wife and two of his sons. They also kidnapped his grandchildren, including beautiful Sarai. Now Sarai has finally been found, but she does not want to come home and refuses to leave her Comanche family. Some violence.

DB 71723
Friends of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Tadeusz Kościuszko, and Agrippa Hull: a Tale of Three Patriots, two Revolutions, and a Tragic Betrayal of Freedom in the New Nation
by Gary B. Nash

Compares the lives of third U.S. president Jefferson, Polish freedom fighter Kosciuszko, and black army orderly Hull. Discusses Jefferson’s failure to free his slaves as promised, Kosciuszko’s fight against Russian invaders, and Hull’s retirement in Massachusetts.

DB 72248
The Sugar Camp Quilt: an Elm Creek Quilts Novel
by Jennifer Chiaverini

Creek’s Crossing, Pennsylvania; 1849. Nineteen-year-old Dorothea Granger and her parents are at the mercy of her Uncle Jacob. So when he asks Dorothea to sew him a quilt according to a specific yet unusual pattern, she agrees. After Uncle Jacob dies Dorothea makes a startling discovery about the design.

DB 72374
Love’s Encore: a Novel
by Sandra Brown

Rayburn Prescott hires interior decorator Camille Jameson to restore his 1805 antebellum house near Natchez, Mississippi. Camille is mortified when she discovers that Rayburn’s son is Zack, with whom she had a one-night stand years ago. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.

DB 73278
Dead and Buried: a Mystery
by Barbara Hambly

New Orleans, 1836. After mourners discover a white corpse in a coffin that should contain a freed black man, Benjamin January investigates on a friend’s behalf. He uncovers family secrets while trying to save the accused killer, an English aristocrat, from the gallows. Some violence and some strong language.

DB 73329
In the King's Name: a Novel
by Alexander Kent

1819. Newly wed Captain Adam Bolitho is ordered to sail to Freetown, West Africa, to relay a message to an officer. Although it recently became illegal to trade in slaves, large profits lure many to attempt it--causing danger for Bolitho. Some violence and some strong language.

DB 73672
1861: the Civil War Awakening
by Adam Goodheart

Cultural history of America in the year the Civil War began examines the lives and deeds of ordinary people and their responses to the challenges of a fractured nation. Discusses marching clubs, drill teams, fugitive slaves, and the surge of patriotism before the reality of war set in.

DB 71898
My Name Is Falon: a Novel
by Kim Wiese

1820s-1830s. Forced to flee Scotland, young Ellen "Falon" Carson and her family settle in Texas, where they struggle to adjust to their new homeland. Falon eventually marries but finds her livelihood threatened by a looming war with Mexico.

DB 75014
Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War
by A.J. Langguth

Professor posits that regional disagreements surrounding the removal of the Cherokees from the South--known as the Trail of Tears--by President Andrew Jackson fueled the states’ rights debates that led to the Civil War. Discusses antebellum politics, including the 1830 Indian Removal Act, slavery, and the Mexican War.

DB 75942
A Government of Our Own: the Making of the Confederacy
by William C. Davis

Historian describes the delegation of leaders of Southern states that convened in 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama, to modify the U.S. Constitution for the Confederate government. Recounts the issues surrounding the South’s secession from the Union and discusses the personalities involved. Provides a brief history of Montgomery.
DB 66338
American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work
by Susan Cheever

Novelist explores the relationships among five writers of the transcendentalist movement who clustered around the home of wealthy Ralph Waldo Emerson in Concord, Massachusetts, during 1840-1868. Highlights their intertwined families and the love affairs that contributed to the creation of their literary masterpieces.
DB 75985
America’s Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise that Preserved the Union by Fergus M. Bordewich

Chronicles the Compromise of 1850, which defused regional conflicts over slavery and delayed the Civil War for a decade. Discusses the effects that the Mexican-American War and the discovery of gold in California had on the debate over whether new states and territories should be slave or free.

DB 72743
Snowbound: a Novel
by Richard S. Wheeler

After his 1847 court-martial, Colonel John Frémont, known as the Pathfinder, resigns from the army and embarks on an expedition to survey a proposed railway between St. Louis and San Francisco. Trapped in the Colorado mountains during winter, his team battles starvation and freezing temperatures.
DB 76078
Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s most Perilous Year
by David Von Drehle

Posits that 1862 was a pivotal year for the United States and for president Abraham Lincoln. Presents a month-by-month account of the political and military battles that threatened the country and discusses personal events--including the death of Lincoln’s son.
DB 76147
Hide Yourself Away: a Mystery
by Mary Jane Clark

Fourteen years ago married heiress Charlotte Sloane disappeared from her family’s Newport estate. Now an excavation of the property’s underground railroad tunnel reveals Charlotte’s remains. KEY News intern--single mom Grace Callahan--is with the team assigned to investigate the case. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex.
DB 76262
38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End
by Scott W. Berg

Chronicles the Dakota War of 1862, which began when Sioux Indians attacked settlers on the Minnesota frontier. Recounts President Lincoln’s orders to General John Pope to put down the insurrection and the hanging of thirty-eight warriors despite appeals by former hostage Sarah Wakefield and an Episcopal priest. Violence.
DB 76459
The Gods of Gotham: a Novel
by Lyndsay Faye

Manhattan, 1845. After bartender Tim Wilde loses his livelihood, home, and savings in a fire, he reluctantly joins the newly formed NYPD. A complex crime involving one runaway Irish child prostitute and the suspicious death of another brings out Wilde’s investigative skills. Violence and strong language.
DB 76600
The Movement of Stars: a Novel
by Amy Brill

Nantucket, 1845. Hannah Price studies astronomy, searching for an unknown comet so she can claim a prize from the king of Denmark. She takes on a student--a dark-skinned shiphand from the Azores named Isaac Martin--and their relationship challenges and changes both of them.

DB 76865
African Cherokees in Indian Territory: from Chattel to Citizens
by Celia E. Naylor

Uses archives and first-person accounts to explore the socioeconomic condition of African Americans enslaved by the Cherokee people. Chronicles the slaves’ fate on the 1838-1839 Trail of Tears, their relationship to their owners, 1863 emancipation, and ensuing freedom.
DB 77562
The Signature of All Things: a Novel
by Elizabeth Gilbert

Alma Whittaker, the only birth child of the richest man in Philadelphia, grows up in a life of luxury and intellectual stimulation. Her parents encourage her curiosity and she matures into one of the best botanists of the nineteenth century. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller.
DB 77126
The Sun and the Moon: the Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
by Matthew Goodman

Chronicles the events of August 1835 when the tabloid newspaper the New York Sun published a series of articles declaring that the moon was inhabited by unicorns, beavers, and man-bats. Details the hoax’s worldwide popularity and the rise of the Sun as the most read newspaper in the world.

DB 78139
Somerset: a Novel
by Leila Meacham

Silas Toliver and Jeremy Warwick, the sons of South Carolina plantation owners, migrate to Texas in 1835. Silas, who was written out of his father’s will, agrees to marry a neighbor’s abolitionist daughter in exchange for cash to finance his trip.

DB 78306
Design for Murder: a Mystery
by Carolyn G. Hart

Bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Annie Laurance is asked to stage a murder for a historical society’s antebellum house tour. But when a real corpse turns up, Annie becomes a possible suspect. With fiancé́ detective Max Darling’s help, Annie investigates. Some strong language.

DB 78367
The Amistad Rebellion: an Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
by Marcus Rediker

Maritime historian uses primary sources to detail the 1839 uprising of captives aboard the Spanish ship the Amistad that led to a Supreme Court case challenging slavery. Portrays the lives of the individuals abducted in Africa who controlled the schooner until they were arrested by authorities near Long Island.

DB 78370
The Wrath of Cochise
by Terry Mort

Details the February 1861 events that sparked years of war between the Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. Army and white settlers in the West. Describes the mistakes of inexperienced lieutenant George Bascom after a rancher’s stepson was kidnapped and the subsequent acts of revenge by Indian leader Cochise.

DB 78417
William Henry Harrison
by Gail Collins

Biography of ninth U.S. president William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), a member of the Whig party, who served for only thirty-one days before succumbing to pneumonia. Describes his aristocratic Virginia birth, military career fighting Indians, and governorship of the Indiana Territory.

DB 78479
The Daring Ladies of Lowell: a Novel
by Kate Alcott

1832. Twenty-year-old Alice Barrow leaves the drudgery of her New Hampshire farm life to work in a factory in the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts. Alice makes a close friend, becomes an advocate for workers' rights, and falls for the mill owner's son. But a murder complicates things.

DB 78672
Two Slave Rebellions at Sea: a Novel
edited by George Hendrick and Willene Hendrick

Two short stories about slave mutinies on the high seas: Frederick Douglass’s 1853 "The Heroic Slave" and Herman Melville’s 1855 "Benito Cereno." Includes excerpts from A Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the 1817 memoir of Amasa Delano--the real-life captain in Melville’s tale. Some violence.

DB 78717
The Texas Brides Collection: Nine Complete Stories
by Darlene Franklin ... [et al.]

Nine novellas by seven Christian fiction authors feature romance in the wild west of Texas. In Serena’s Strength eighteen-year-old Serena Talbot pines for Texas Ranger Chet Wilkinson in 1841 San Antonio, but her father disapproves. But that’s the least of their troubles when violent banditos arrive. Some violence.

DB 71705
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
by S.C. Gwynne

Narrative of the Great Plains, its native tribes, and America’s western expansion. Highlights the story of nine-year-old settler Cynthia Ann Parker’s 1836 kidnapping by Comanches and, later, her son Quanah’s rise to chiefdom. Violence. Bestseller.

Conflict: a Nation Divided

DB 76792
A Disease in the Public Mind: a New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War
by Thomas Fleming

Historian posits that longtime rivalries between the North and South, inflamed by radical abolitionists such as John Brown, led to the dissolution of the union. Discusses the history of slavery in the United States and why--unlike in other countries--efforts to end it peacefully failed.
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