Introducing Monongahela Press

monpresslogo The first two titles by Monongahela Press, the new publishing wing of Monongahela Books, have just been released.  These are standard trade paperbacks, miracle-bound, with glossy covers.  Monongahela Press is not a “fine press”, with sewn signatures, handmade linen paper and letterpress typography.  Much as we appreciate such craftsmanship, we are more of a “plain” than a “fine” press.  Our books are decently made according to the prevailing commercial standard in order to keep the price well within the range of the honest wage earner as opposed to the well-heeled collector.  Which is not to say our books are not nicely laid out.  We think they are.  Within the limitations of current print-on-demand technology, we design them with care and due consideration for the long tradition of the bookmaker’s art.

scp_coverThe first is Stark County Poems: War and the Depression come to Spoon River by BJ Omanson, a collection thirty-five years in the making of lyric and narrative poems in the regionalist/naturalistic tradition of American poetry.  To read more about this book, including a sample of the poetry, click here.

Our second title is a republication of a very scarce Marine Corps company history from the First World War:  A History of 20th Company, 5th Regiment, United States Marines, originally p20co_coverublished in Germany in 1919.  In addition to original material, this reissue has new section introductions placing the company history in a context of the larger war, footnotes, and a number of previously unpublished field messages and operation reports.  More information about this book may be found here.

The third title is a facsimile edition of another scarce Marine Corps company history from the First World War:  78th Company, 6th Marines, Second Division, Army of Occupation, also originally published in Germany in 1919.    More information about this book may be found he78FC2re.

Future titles are yet to be determined.  Another book of poems by Mr Omanson is in the works, and additional rare American publications from the First World War are being considered.  When eventually they appear, the news of their appearance will be found in this blog.

Published in: on March 6, 2017 at 5:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Books on the 1914 Christmas Eve truce

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Next Christmas Eve will mark the Centennial of the so-called “Christmas Truce”, which occured spontaneously at various places along the Western Front on Christmas Eve, 1914.  British, French and German soldiers unexpectedly broke out into carols, left the trenches and— to the subsequent outrage of their superior officers (who weren’t present in the trenches themselves, of course, being snugly & safely ensconced far behind the lines)— met in No-Man’s-Land with white flags, exchanged impromtu gifts, shared snorts of rum & brandy, tried on one another’s helmets, and even indulged in the odd game of soccer.

In anticipation of next year’s Great War Centennial, Monongahela Books has been expanding it WWI Bookstore, bringing in many new titles and even opening new sections, such as  The First Battle of the Marne, Horses in the Great War, Cemeteries & Memorials, and a small Christmas Truce section.

After the turn of the New Year, I will post a more extensive article here on recent changes and expansions to the WWI Bookstore, but for now I just wanted to dwell a few moments on the Christmas Truce.

There has probably been nothing like it in the history of warfare: a widespread and spontaneous laying-down-of-arms by the soldiers themselves; an unexpected & unrehearsed outbreak of humanity in midst of the first industrial & global war.

click to enlarge At present there are only a few titles available on our site, but that number will increase, and will include scholarly studies for the general reader as well as books for children. I also hope, as soon as possible, to be able to offer a dvd of the 2005 French film about the Christmas Truce, Joyeux Noël.

I have so far been unable to procure any nice hardbound copies of Malcolm Brown’s book on the truce, the seminal work on the subject, as it is an English title, but I will add it as soon as possible. However, Stanley Weitraub’s “Silent Night” is also excellent, and takes Brown’s scholarship into account, and is available immediately.

Finally, if you have not yet had an opportunity to watch the opera, SILENT NIGHT, by Kevin Puts, based on the original event, and the 2005 French film “Joyeux Noël,” try to do so this Christmas. Check your local PBS listings, or buy the DVD (when it comes out: it apparently hasn’t been released yet). SILENT NIGHT played a sold-out premier run in 2011 at the Minnesota Opera, and won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music.

The set is powerfully evocative, the details grittily realistic and historically accurate, and the music nothing short of glorious, as can be seen in the brief segment below:

Watch the Minnesota Opera perform the song “Sleep” from SILENT NIGHT.

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Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

An artist’s memoir of Belleau Wood, Soissons and St Mihiel

I received a parcel from McFarland Publishers today, containing a memoir of an enlisted US Marine, Louis C. Linn, who served at Belleau Wood, Soissons and St Mihiel. At Belleau Wood with Rifle and Sketchpad. I wrote the chapter introductions and footnotes for the book.

I also wrote the following summary and assessment of Linn’s memoir, only part of which appears in the book.

Louis Linn wrote his memoir of service with the Marine Brigade in France in 1918 about ten years after the end of the war. This is just when the great majority of memoirs, novels and books of poems about the First World War began to appear, in the late 1920s and early ‘30s. For nearly all the participants of the war, from whatever country, it took at least a decade before combat veterans could “come to terms” with the trauma of the war, and gain the perspective necessary to write about it with some clarity and dispassion.

Linn’s memoir is rough-hewn. It reads like a rough draft written straight through and never revised, with passages of lyric force and clarity interspersed with passages which are much less certain, where Linn is clearly struggling to capture experiences that are not easily rendered into language.

Memoirs are difficult to write at best, for a host of reasons, and memoirs dealing with trauma are the most difficult of all. Yet unlike many memoirists from the war, Linn never resorts to easy shortcuts with the language. There are no euphemisms or clichés, or any of the easy formulaic phrases heard so often during the war itself. There is no talk of “dash” or “valor” or “elan”. There is not the slightest whiff of patriotism, esprit de corps, or demonization of the enemy. He never even refers to himself as a Marine, but just as a plain infantry soldier.

Linn’s perspective is personal and ground-level. There is no sense of larger issues, strategic objectives, or being part of a Great Crusade. What he writes about is getting through each day. If there is a moral compass in Linn’s account, it too is personal and ground-level. What Linn describes again and again are relations between individuals, and their rank and nationality scarcely figure into it. He observes numerous instances of callousness, cruelty and injustice, and these become a part of his record. Some of those he meets elicit his sympathy, or pity, even occasionally his admiration, but many more provoke his ridicule and contempt, especially if they are officers.

What strikes the reader most of all is Linn’s uncompromising frankness, whether about human flaws, including his own, or the sordid particulars of life in the trenches. He never fudges, or makes excuses, or offers explanations. He just puts it down as he remembers it, in detail, and with no apparent concern for the impression he makes, either of himself, or on the reader. This is what gives Linn’s memoir its great value as a document of core human experience. If his phrasing is not always polished, his forthrightness never falters.

Louis Linn was a member of 77th Company, 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 4th Brigade of Marines, Second Division (Regular), A.E.F. Of all the American divisions participating in the Great War, the Second Division suffered the most casualties, captured the second most territory, captured the most enemy prisoners and equipment, and won the most decorations for valor.

The Second Division was the only Army division in the history of the United States to contain a brigade of Marines, and the only Army division ever to be commanded by a Marine. It was due to the participation of this single Marine brigade that the Marine Corps, in six months time, went from being a minor expeditionary fighting force attached to the Navy, to being considered a first-rate force of shock troops by the German Army. It was this single Marine brigade which made the Marine Corps a participant on the world stage, and prepared it for playing a major role in the next world war, and which provided the crucial core of experienced field officers for that war.

Of three major battles, all of which were devastating for the Marine Brigade, Linn participated in two, Belleau Wood and Soissons, and in those two he participated in the very worst of the fighting. He came through Belleau Wood unscathed, was badly wounded at Soissons, and then, at St. Mihiel, during an attack when only seven Marines were wounded by a concealed grenade, Linn was one of the seven, and he was wounded badly enough that he remained hospitalized until after the Armistice.

Regarding his experiences in the war, Linn’s daughter, Laura Jane Linn Wright writes that ” . . . [he] always carried a sketchbook and a stub of a pencil in his pocket. He carried them all through the war. He drew, whenever he could, to try to maintain his sanity in a terrible situation. Drawing gave him a measure of mental peace. He was tormented by nightmares. He wrote his memoir several years after the war, partly as a catharsis, using his sketches as illustrations. Or perhaps the sketches brought back his experiences. He made woodcuts from some of the sketches to more vividly convey the bleakness and horror of the war . . . ”

BJ Omanson

For more about this book, go here.

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 6:10 am  Leave a Comment  

American Noir: books to die for

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In these hard times, men turn to desperate measures.   A loaded Smith & Wesson in the top side drawer of the desk, a bottle of Johnny Walker Black in the bottom.  You’re lucky to have a friend you can trust.  You’re lucky to have a woman who doesn’t want to cut your throat while you sleep.  A blinking neon sign from the liquor store outside throws a pulsating red glare on the bedroom wall, like the thing you see when you close your eyes.  You step to the window, peer up and down the rainy street, and close the blinds . . .

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Time to flick on a lamp, swirl a little of that golden amber in a glass, take the phone off the hook, double-lock the doors, settle onto the sofa, put the dreary day out of your mind and have yourself a good old-fashioned read.

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Here are a few recommendations from our American Noir Bookstore, which has now so grown in size that we have divided it into eleven sections: “Cops”, “Criminology”, Detective Fiction”, “Film Noir”, “Forensics”, “Gangsters”, “Mobsters”, “Murder & Mayhem”, “Prohibition”, “Radio Crime Fighters” and “Television Crime Fighters”.

I thought I’d open up this cultural can of worms with some selections from our “Detective Fiction” section, beginning with some collections of Chandler, Hammett and later masters from the fifties, interspersed with a few compelling studies of the genre.

For pricing and ordering information on any book, just click on the title.
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Dashiell Hammett, COMPLETE NOVELS: Red Harvest; The Dain Curse; The Maltese Falcon; The Glass Key; The Thin Man. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Library of America, 1999). 5×8. 967 pp. ~~~ The five Hammett novels collected here, published between 1929 and 1934, created archetypal characters and established the ground rules and characteristic tone for a whole tradition of hardboiled writing.

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Leroy Lad Panek, READING EARLY HAMMETT: A Critical Study of the Fiction Prior to The Maltese Falcon. New copy, trade paperback, 7×10. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2004). Chronology, bibliography, index, 219 pp. ~~~ Dashiell Hammett, like most successful writers, honed his skills in the trenches. Long before The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man made him a household name, Hammett developed his technique writing satirical magazine pieces, then moved on to churn out tales of sex, crime and adventure for pulp magazines. Characters like Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles made him famous, but Hammett perfected his style—and created the first hard-boiled detective fiction—writing stories and novels about an anonymous, middle-aged detective, known as the Continental Op. ~~~ This detailed examination of the early works of Dashiell Hammett takes a new look at one of the 20th century’s most influential crime writers and his creation of the hard-boiled detective story. Each chapter covers an element of Hammett’s early writing career—his magazine fiction; the Continental Op’s development as a character; the Continental Op novels; and the last Continental Op stories. A concluding chapter provides afterthoughts on Hammett’s career, style and place in the history of detective fiction. A chronology of works cited, a bibliography and an index supplement the text.

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J.K. Van Dover, MAKING THE DETECTIVE STORY AMERICAN: Biggers, Van Dine and Hammett and the Turning Point of the Genre, 1925-1930New copy, trade paperback, 6×9. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2010). Appendices, filmography, notes, bibliographY, index, 231 pp.  ~~~  Since their inception, detective novels have been a wildly successful genre of American fiction, featuring a uniquely American belief in rugged individualism. This book focuses on Raymond Chandler’s creation of Philip Marlowe, a detective whose feeling for community and willingness to compromise radically changed the genre’s vigilantism and violence. It compares Chandler’s work to early and mid-20th century American detective novels, particularly those by John Carroll Daly, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald, as well as contemporary British detective fiction, highlighting Chandler’s contribution to the American genre.

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Raymond Chandler, FAREWELL MY LOVELY. VG+. Unusually clean, tight copy of fragile wartime paperback. (New York: Pocket Books, 1943). First Printing. ~~~ ” . . . This is a thrilling story – shockingly realistic – of a world in which viciousness is normal. In it you will find Philip Marlowe, Private Detective, and a rare rogue’s gallery of unbeautiful characters, including: a giant who did not know his own strength; a Negro who ends up with a broken neck; a gin-drinking drab with a fine new radio; a ravishingly beautiful blonde with a rich and sadly tolerant husband, but no morals; an Indian with the shoulders of a blacksmith and the legs of a chimpanzee; a charlatan who calls himself a psychic consultant; a doctor with a plug-ugly for an assistant; a gambler; and an honest cop and several crooked ones . . .”

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Raymond Chandler, THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (THE HIGH WINDOW). VG/VG. Very nice jacket with no chipping, creases or fading. Jacket in mylar. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company, 1946). Photoplay edition, second World Publishing Company edition, and first edition with this title. Pages browned. The photoplay edition of Chandler’s The High Window, the title which appears on the book itself, but with the promotional jacket for the 1947 film directed by John Brahm, and featuring George Montgomery, Nancy Guild, and Conrad Janis. ~~~” . . . Sardonic, quietly cynical, cold and merciless when he has to be, but gruffly compassionate toward the victims of evil . . .”

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Raymond Chandler, STORIES AND EARLY NOVELS: Pulp Stories; The Big Sleep; Farewell, My Lovely; The High Window. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Library of America, 1995). 5×8. 1216 pp. ~~~ In Raymond Chandler’s hands, the pulp crime story became a haunting mystery of power and corruption, set against a modern cityscape both lyrical and violent. With humor, and an unerring sense of dialogue and the telling detail he created a fictional universe out of the dark side of sunlit Los Angeles. In the process, he transformed both the crime novel and American writing. Stories and Early Novels includes the first three novels featuring Chandler’s great creation, private eye Philip Marlow: tough, disillusioned, and sensitive. In The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The High WIndow, Marlow’s investigations lead him from Los Angeles shanties and honkey tonks to the highest reaches of power, encountering a world of gangsters and crooked politicans, lost souls and small-time operators. Thirteen stories from the pulp magazines Black Mask and Dime Detective include such classics as “Red Wind” and “Trouble Is My Business.” The volume, with its companion, Later Novels and Other Writings, comprise the most comprehensive edition available of America’s greatest mystery writer.

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John Paukl Athanasourelis. RAYMOND CHANDLER’S PHILIP MARLOWE: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed. New copy, trade paperback, 6×9.
(Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2011). BibliographY, index. ~~~ Since their inception, detective novels have been a wildly successful genre of American fiction, featuring a uniquely American belief in rugged individualism. This book focuses on Raymond Chandler’s creation of Philip Marlowe, a detective whose feeling for community and willingness to compromise radically changed the genre’s vigilantism and violence. It compares Chandler’s work to early and mid-20th century American detective novels, particularly those by John Carroll Daly, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald, as well as contemporary British detective fiction, highlighting Chandler’s contribution to the American genre.

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Geherin, David, SCENE OF THE CRIME: The Importance of Place in Crime and Mystery FictionNew copy, trade paperback,  7×10. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2008). Bibliography, index, 216 pp.  ~~~  Offering analysis of the fiction of 15 authors, this book focuses on the many ways that setting and place figure in modern crime and mystery novels. After an introductory chapter dealing with a general consideration of place in fiction, subsequent chapters consider the works of recent mystery writers for whom setting greatly contributes to overall literary style.  — From best-selling U.S. authors Walter Mosley, Carl Hiaasen, and James Lee Burke to international favorites Georges Simenon and Paco Ignacio Taibo II, the author ranges widely among the most acclaimed writers of recent mystery fiction. Topics explored include the afro-centric urban Los Angeles environment in Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, the small-town exoticism of James Lee Burke’s southern Louisiana in The Neon Rain, and the gritty South African setting of James McClure’s The Steam Pig.

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Robert Polito (ed), CRIME NOVELS: American Noir of the 1950s. New copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Library of America, 1997). 5×8. 900 pp. ~~~ Exploring themes of crime, guilt, deception, obsessive passion, murder, and the disintegrating psyche, this volume gathers the best crime novels of the era, at once disturbing, poetic, anarchic, and powerfully evocative of a lost age ~~~ The Killer Inside Me, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Pick-Up, Down There, and  The Real Cool Killers.

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Moore, Lewis D., CRACKING THE HARD-BOILED DETECTIVE: A Critical History from the 1920s to the Present.
New copy, trade paperback, 7×10. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2006). Bibliography, index,
306 pp. ~~~ The hard-boiled private detective is among the most recognizable characters in popular fiction since the 1920s—a tough product of a violent world, in which police forces are inadequate and people with money can choose private help when facing threatening circumstances. Though a relatively recent arrival, the hard-boiled detective has undergone steady development and assumed diverse forms. ~~~ This critical study analyzes the character of the hard-boiled detective, from literary antecedents through the early 21st century. It follows change in the novels through three main periods: the Early (roughly 1927–1955), during which the character was defined by such writers as Carroll John Daly, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler; the Transitional, evident by 1964 in the works of John D. MacDonald and Michael Collins, and continuing to around 1977 via Joseph Hansen, Bill Pronzini and others; and the Modern, since the late 1970s, during which such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Liza Cody, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and many others have expanded the genre and the detective character. Themes such as violence, love and sexuality, friendship, space and place, and work are examined throughout the text.

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Rippeloe, Rita Elizabeth, BOOZE AND THE PRIVATE EYE: Alcohol in the Hard-Boiled Novel. New copy, trade paperback, 7×10. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2004). Bibliography, index, 215 pp. ~~~ The hard-bitten PI with a bottle of bourbon in his desk drawer—it’s an image as old as the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction itself. Alcohol has long been an important element of detective fiction, but it is no mere prop. Rather, the treatment of alcohol within the works informs and illustrates the detective’s moral code, and casts light upon the society’s attitudes towards drink. ~~~ This examination of the role of alcohol in hard-boiled detective fiction begins with the genre’s birth, in an era strongly influenced and affected by Prohibition, and follows both the genre’s development and its relation to our changing understanding of and attitudes towards alcohol and alcoholism. It discusses the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Robert B. Parker, Lawrence Block, Marcia Muller, Karen Kijewski and Sue Grafton. There are bibliographies of both the primary and critical texts, and an index of authors and works.

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Books about cowboys & ranch life

No bookstore specializing in American history and culture can afford to overlook the iconic American cowboy, and Monongahela Books has a sizeable selection of books on this subject. The first selection, however, reminds us that the earliest cowboys in America were not Texan but Mexican, and had deep roots reaching back to Spain and Morocco.

John Dyer’s book of photographs, EL VAQUERO REAL: The Original American Cowboy, helps fill in a crucial part of the history of the American cowboy which has been largely forgotten.

When Captain King and other early ranchers came into South Texas and began amassing huge swathes of land, it was the Vaquero who enabled him to go into the cattle business. It was the Vaquero who taught the Anglo cowboy everything he needed to know about cattle and horses.

Now, the world of the Vaquero is moving from reality to myth. John Dyer’s El Vaquero Real is a mosaic of images, impressions, and history, of the life that was and life that is, a tribute to the Vaquero: heritage; style; equipment; factual data; numbers in their heyday, how many there are today, the importance to the Latino culture and the larger culture of America.

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The next book is an exceptionally nice copy of an old classic, Frank Dobie’s THE LONGHORNS from 1941. This copy is not a first edition, but was published in the same year (or near it, being a 19th printing) and, except for the one line of text on the title page identifying it as a 19th printing, is identical to the first edition in every respect. There is a color frontispiece painting and numerous black & white drawings by the famous Western artist Tom Lea.

The Texas Longhorn made more history than another other breed of cattle the world has ever known. The Longhorns were more than a breed — they were a race. Gaunt, wiry, intractable, they were themselves pioneers in a hard, strange land.

This is their story, told by a born teller of tales, who knows that legend and folklore are proper parts of history. It is the story, too, of the men the Longhorn brought into being — the Texas cowboys who rode over the rim with all the energy, insolence and pride of the booming west.

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 FRONTIER CATTLE RANCHING IN THE LAND AND TIMES OF CHARLIE RUSSELL, by Warren E. Elofson, is an engaging, sprightly comparison of ranching experiences in Montana and Alberta/Assiniboia from 1880 to 1920. Elofson argues that these two frontiers had much in common. Montana is revealed to have a more sedate, and less wild, cultural tradition than is remembered. Alberta/Assiniboia is shown to have a rowdier, more “western” ranching culture than is typically acknowledged. The regional stereotypes-of American individualism, lawlessness, and self-reliance, and of Canadian law and order-are exaggerated.

Elofson examines the lives of cowboys and ranch owners during the short-lived free-range era with its oversized spreads. He looks at the prevalence of drunkenness, prostitution, gunplay, and rustling in both localities and contact with the supposed civilities of tennis courts, grand pianos, ostentatious dinners, and fancy balls in both regions.

Elofson drawns upon the artwork, short stories, and legend of Charlie Russell, a cowboy and rancher who moved between the regions, to illustrate his points.

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Rodeo has grown into an international, prime-time television sport. Steeped in tradition and Western spirit, it calls aspiring cowboys and cowgirls to its rough-and-tumble fame as they repeatedly risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph. In CHASING THE RODEO, Kip Stratton takes us into the addictive core of rodeo, bull riding, and the circuit. Immersed in this world, he collides with the specter of his “rodeo bum” father, finding part of the cowboy dream that was his father’s legacy.

The Boston Globe writes: “Filled with delicious rodeo tidbits. Stratton’s the perfect tour guide, a natural-born storyteller whose prose is as lean as a cowboy and as poetic as a sunset, rendered with a delight and wonder that are downright infectious.”

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First published in 1924, THE COWBOY: His Characteristics, His Equipment, and His Part in the Development of the West, by Philip Rollins, is perhaps the most accurate and detailed account of the real-life American cowboy ever written. Rollins sets out to provide a comprehensive handbook on the everyday life of the cowboy – trailing, herding, branding, round-up, and horsebreaking. He discusses tools of the trade, including types of saddles, bits, riatas, boots, and spurs.  His presentation of the cowboy’s personality, code, mores, and amusements is especially vivid.

As a small boy, Rollins spent several months living with famed mountain man, Jim Bridger.  As a teen, Rollins twice helped trail cattle on drives from Texas to Montana.  He also spent time on a Cheyenne reservation and was living in Wyoming during the fateful range war of 1892.  In his research for The Cowboy, Rollins made use of his personal library of  Western Americana numbering over 2300 volumes.  He also benifited from discussions with the likes of Andy Adams, Charles Goodnight, George W. Saunders, and Charles A. Siringo.

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The next two titles come from the Old West Memorabilia section and concern cowboy equipment and accourtrements.

The American cowboy’s unique life-style inspired tools, clothing, amusements, advertising, and more which are avidly sought by collectors today. In Michael Friedman’s COWBOY CULTURE: The Last Frontier of American Antiques, cowboy items are presented in over 1000 color photographs identified in text and captions. Each section of this new second edition of COWBOY CULTURE is more complete and has better examples than earlier books devoted to each subject. Here are exquisite spurs, saddles, gambling tools, photography, guns, holsters, bits, chaps, gloves, boots, hats, badges, and knives. Objects related to Wild West shows-which popularized the myths and accomplishments of cowboys to town dwellers who fantasized life on the open range-are also included.

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From saddles to silverware, COWBOY EQUIPMENT by Joice Overton portrays the many various and diversified items that were so essential to the cowboy way of life. An invaluable source for historic reference as well as a present day guide for collectors, antique dealers, traders, and modern-day cowboys, this book’s colorful photographs and information bring the Old West back to life, and will be of interest to all lovers of the Western Lore. Containing over 500 photographs along with helpful text and captions which describe the items and their usage, Cowboy Equipment also comes complete with recommendations as to proper care of items and a full value guide.

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These are just some of the many titles available on cowboys, ranch life and related subjects in the Old West Bookstore, so next time you’re in the territory, knock the dust off your chaps and drop on by.

Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 4:09 am  Leave a Comment  

The WWII ‘Underground Resistance’ bookstore

Many dozens of new titles have been added recently to the World War II bookstore from Casemate, Schiffer, Pen & Sword and other publishers, expanding not only not only existing sections of the WWII store, but leading to the creation of several new ones as well.

One of these new sections is the Underground Resistance bookstore, consisting both of new and recent titles and a number of vintage titles from the war years or shortly thereafter. 

Here is a sample of several titles:

Published by Charles Scribners’ Sons in 1943, Etta Shiber’s Paris Underground was described by critics as ” . . . … a quiet, unassuming chronicle of the author’s experiences in smuggling nearly 200 British soldiers out of occupied France under the very noses of the Nazis.” This copy is a First Edition with a nice jacket protected in mylar. Like most wartime books published in the U.S., it comes with a statement confirming that it has been manufactured to federal wartime standards.

Another wartime book was Joseph Kessel’s factually-based autobiographical novel, Army of Shadows  , which provided the basis for the famous 1969 French film of the same name, L’armée des ombres. This copy is a First American Edition, translated by Haakon Chevalier and published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1944.  It has a nice original jacket in mylar.  The jacket flap reads, in part, ” . . . Nothing we have heard about the French underground has quite prepared us for the truth — the terrible and inspiring truth — which is in this book. for here at last is an account of the way the men and women of France conduct resistance to the Nazis and how they deal with those who, for whatever reason, betray their sacred cause. It is a story — or a great series of stories — of nobility, heroism, and of brutal violence, and one may be sure that what this book relates will be told again and again in the years to come.”

There is a also a 1959 Ace paperback edition of the same book.

The Unknown Warriors, from 1949, is described the publisher, Simon & Schuster, as “. . . the first fully detailed account to appear in this country of the rise of the Resistance movement in Occupied France.” Given the credentials of the author, it is difficult to argue with this claim.

Guillain de Benouville was a young army officer when Petain surrendered to the Germans. He was taken prisoner, but soon escaped, and worked in the underground from its outset. So Unknown Warriors is no mere compilation of the facts of resistance; it is the hair-raising personal story of a courageous man who risked torture and death all through Europe’s long night. He shared in the early sabotage with home-made explosives, the building of secret radio stations, and the execution of traitors. De Benouville was among the few isolated groups of patriots that were still fighting the Nazis after the surrender of France in 1940, and which by D-Day had grown to a quarter-million and become the organized French Forces of the Interior. De Benouville was one of their leaders.

Of particular interest are three of the book’s photographs:  portraits of two Gestapo agents and one collaborator, all of whom were executed by the Underground.

Among titles of more recent vintage, two are especially worth noting. 

Newly released by Casemate is a reprint of the 1943 Partisan’s Companion, subtitled “The Red Army’s Do-It-Yourself, Nazi-Bashing Guerrilla Warfare Manual.”

By 1943, it was obvious that Germany was losing the war. The partisan ranks grew as did the training requirements for the partisan commanders. The 1943 edition of the Partisan’s Companion helped quickly train new guerrillas to a common standard. Besides field craft, it covers partisan tactics, German counter-guerrilla tactics, demolitions, German and Soviet weapons, scouting, camouflage, anti-tank warfare and anti-aircraft defense for squad and platoon-level instruction. It contains the Soviet lessons of two bitter years of war and provides a good look at the tactics and training of a mature partisan force. The partisans moved and lived clandestinely, harassed the enemy, and supported the Red Army through reconnaissance and attacks on the German supply lines. They were also the agents of Soviet power and vengeance in the occupied regions. Soviet historians credit the partisans with tying down ten percent of the German army and with killing almost a million enemy soldiers. They clearly frustrated German logistics and forced the Germans to periodically sideline divisions to hunt the partisans. The partisans, and this third edition of the Partizan’s Companion, were clearly part of the eventual Soviet victory over Germany.

Parachuted into Occupied France and ruthlessly pursued by the Germans, the Allied underground radio operators of WWII had a life expectancy of six months… In this new book by Jean-Louis Perquin (the son of Resistance workers), The Clandestine Radio Operators: SOE, BCRA, OSS, the training these operators received in England is described in detail for the first time and five accounts describe how these courageous individuals lived on a daily basis. Most of the radio equipment, some of which is very rare, is shown here for the first time, using color photographs.

Of the uncounted thousands of underground resisters who died fighting the Nazi occupiers in Russia and Europe, the great majority remain little or completely unknown.  Now, thanks to the efforts of author RJ Minney, the story of one of them has come to light.

Carve Her Name With Pride is the inspiring story of the half-French Violette Szabo who was born in Paris in 1921 to an English motor-car dealer, and a French Mother. She met and married Etienne Szabo, a Captain in the French Foreign Legion in 1940. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Tania, her husband died at El Alamein. She became a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) and was recruited into the SOE and underwent secret agent training. Her first trip to France was completed successfully even though she was arrested and then released by the French Police.

On June 7th, 1944, Szabo was parachuted into Limoges. Her task was to co-ordinate the work of the French Resistance in the area in the first days after D-Day. She was captured by the SS ‘Das Reich’ Panzer Division and handed over to the Gestapo in Paris for interrogation. From Paris, Violette Szabo was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was executed in January 1945. She was only 23 and for her courage was posthumously awarded The George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

These are just five of twenty titles about the Allied Resistance in WWII, so if this is a subject that interests you, stop in sometime at WWII Underground Resistance bookstore and have a look at the others.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Introducing the Monongahela Books blog

Welcome to the blog of Monongahela Books, an online bookstore which has been around since 1996, specializing in American history and culture. It’s a small, one-man business, operating out of an old house overlooking the Monongahela River in Morgantown, West Virginia.

A thriving, state-of-the-art business, riding the crest of the digital revolution, partaking in the giddy evolution of the stodgy old book into futuristic new forms of portable devices & virtual print?

Not hardly.

The books we carry are made of actual paper, cloth & leather. They come to you through the mail in parcels, and you will need a bonafide physical shelf to accomodate them. Many of the books are new and many more are old, while a few are rare & exceptional. They possess volume, presence & heft, and they require a modicum of physical effort to turn the pages.

You can annotate them with pencil or ink, if that is your wont~~ something you can’t manage on a Kindle. You can press old valentines or violets between paragraphs. You can take them from the shelf, blow away the dust, and smell the wisdom of ages as you open their pages.

They come without batteries.

BJ Omanson

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