Monday, December 4, 2017

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

I've been stocking up on some winter reading--as if my "to be read" shelf was not already bulging--but who can resist with such intriguing titles out there.

My interest in hip-hop originated in 1983-84, when it was just finally gaining attention where I lived. I was in 8th grade and became fascinated with break dancing. I watched the movie "Beat Street" over and over on VHS from the local video rental store. Break dancing introduced me to the music that fueled the dancing. It didn't take for me long to get hooked, buying music then like I buy books these days. I've read several so-called histories of hip-hop over the years, but being published by UNC Press adds a even greater sense of credibility to Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop's Early Years by Joseph C. Ewoodzie, Jr. Here's hoping it give us a whole new way of thinking about hip-hop's early years and its influences.

I've often wondered how difficult it must have been for the enslaved, or even free people of color, to travel in the antebellum United States. Whether free or slave, traveling any distance posed issues that most whites did not have to consider. Well, it looks like I will get my questions answered by reading Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War by Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor and published by UNC Press. I'm sure this will be an eye-opening look into a overlooked topic and will certainly be enlightening.

Regional studies on slavery are some of my favorite reading. Slavery differed from area to area due to everything from duration of settlement to crops grown to geography. With the transition from tobacco to a more diversified agriculture, slavery in the Chesapeake and eastern North Carolina changed, too. Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South by Calvin Schermerhorn examines this transition, its effect on slave families, and in turn, their effect on the American marketplace.

My visit to the Sunflower State in 2010 for a conference, and thus my subsequent museum and historic site visits there only served to fuel my then growing interest in learning more about "Bleeding Kansas." Although this subject has not received a tremendous amount of scholarship in the past decade, Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Era, by Robert K. Sutton, and published by Skyhorse, may just reignite an new examination of the importance of this particular place and time.

Slavery's spread to the Old Southwest in the first half of the nineteenth century drastically transformed the United States. Migrating planters and their transported human property, along with the rise in the interstate slave trade, changed the politics, economy, and society of areas like Texas as much as they did the physical landscape. Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850, by Andrew J. Torget (UNC Press), promises to provide readers with a better understanding of how slavery's introduction into Mexican territory helped lead to the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Civil War.

Now the challenge becomes finding the time to read these great titles. What a wonderful problem to have!

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