Books Received

By Macleod, David | Michigan Historical Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Books Received


Macleod, David, Michigan Historical Review


It has been some time--too long, in fact--since we have listed books which the MHR has received but been unable to review. (A partial list last appeared in the Fall 2006 issue.) Many of these deserve attention. Some, such as new editions of previously published books or highly specialized works or books for young readers, fall outside our parameters for publishing a full review. In a good many instances, however, the problem is one that frustrates editors: Scholars who agree to review a book sometimes fail to write the review and, despite repeated nagging, neither furnish a review nor return the book. This professional irresponsibility--only rarely is it a health problem--is unfair both to authors and to potential readers. As a way of trying to mitigate the damage, we publish short descriptions of books we have not reviewed. We apologize for the lateness of some of these notices and resolve to do better in the future.

Chardavoyne, David G. A Hanging in Detroit: Stephen Gifford Simmons and the Last Execution under Michigan Law. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003. Pp. 234. Cloth, $44.95; paper, $26.95.

This volume, a 2004 Michigan Notable Book Award winner, describes the disturbing spectacle of the public hanging in 1830 of murderer Stephen Simmons, the last person executed under Michigan law, and the social and legal issues surrounding the crime and punishment. Chardavoyne, who is a lawyer and legal scholar, explores issues such as the extreme inconsistency in punishments for murder in that era and the ways in which reactions to this event helped remove capital punishment from Michigan's statutes in 1846.

Dahlstrom, Carl E. W. L. Sent to Hell from Ann Arbor." A College Student's World War One. Ed. Rosalie V. Grafe. Portland, Ore.: Quaker Abbey Press, 2009. Pp. 224. Paper, $15.95.

Carl Dahlstrom (1897-1981) enlisted in the spring of 1918, in time to see battle that autumn as a soldier in the truck transport service in France and participate in the early occupation of Germany. Although the editor has supplied names of persons and places, family traditions, and a comprehensive index, the core of the book is Dahlstrom's autobiographical memoir, written entirely from memory shortly before the author's death. A vivid writer (he was a professor of English literature in the days before "theory" engulfed the field), Dahlstrom is bitter about the slaughter of ill-equipped and untrained American troops and the obtuseness of the high command. This is a thoughtful and very readable memoir that sets memories of wartime experience in the context of the author's family life, his boyhood and college years, and his changing sense of values.

Dorson, Richard M. Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers: Folk Traditions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Third edition with additional tales. Ed. and intro. James P. Leary. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Pp. 408. Paper, $24.95.

Originally published in 1952, with a second edition in 1980, this book is a classic of American folklore studies. Libraries and readers who enjoy good stories should consider purchasing this new edition, however, as it includes significant new material not found in the first or second editions. The present edition has an extensive new introduction and bibliography by James P. Leary, a leading expert on Scandinavian folklore of the Upper Midwest. Further, Leary has added notes and sixty pages of stories collected by Dorson in the 1940s and early 1950s that were not in earlier editions. There is also a comprehensive new index.

Feurer, Rosemary. Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005. Pp. 342. Cloth, $65.00; paper, $25.00.

Less expansive in scope than its title might suggest, this volume describes the rise of labor radicalism in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early 1930s and then the history of District 8 of the United Electrical Workers during the 1930s and 1940s.

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