“This America Is Ours” by Nate Schweber (Mariner Books)
It’s a pity that Bernard DeVotto is all but forgotten today. A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Diotto was, in the words of his biographer Nate Schweber, a “conservative … teacher, free thinker, fighter, patriot.” De Votto, he writes, was “false, brilliant, outrageous, provocative, frightening all his life, often wrong, often brilliantly right, always inspiring, never exasperating, and never, ever dull. “
The same can be said for Scheuber’s “This America of Ours.” Readers will be outraged and horrified that without DeVotto’s crusades, we would have lost many of our nation’s lands to land grabbers.
A prolific writer, DeVotto wrote award-winning history books, but his forgotten legacy was truly in preservation. He exposed the tricks of corrupt politicians, who sold public lands to their cronies. DeVoto’s opposition drew the ire of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy and other prominent government and political figures. Their last fight was against the Echo Park Dam. DeVoto won, and it led to the 1964 Wilderness Act.
DeVoto’s wife, Avis, was equally committed to conservation. She edited her husband’s writings and accompanied him on fact-finding trips. She entertained influential politicians at lavish dinners that she cooked. Ironically, Ives’ cooking may have made her more famous today than her husband. She was best friends with Julia Child and helped Child with her French cookbook. Eves Meryl Streep has a role in the film about Child.
“This America of Ours” highlights one of America’s most respected conservationists and his fight against those who would destroy our public lands. The book emphasizes that those lands are not sacred. Under the Trump administration, large portions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments were removed from federal protection. Devoto’s fight continues.
“Communities of Ludlow,” Edited by Fawn-Amber Montoya and Karen Larkin (University Press of Colorado).
Tourists intrigued by a highway information sign about the Ludlow Massacre sometimes arrive only to discover that it was not an Indian massacre, but instead the site of a deadly labor fight. Thi, an educator at Colorado State University, wrote in “Communities.” of Ludlow.
In fact, the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 was the killing of two women and 11 children in a southern Colorado labor war. After members of the Colorado National Guard opened fire on a camp of coal miners, the dead were suffocated and burned in a cellar under a tent.
Ludlow became an “icon of industrial conflict and a rallying call”, writes editor Karen Larkin. The strike marked a “turning point in the struggle for union identity”.
“Communities of Ludlow” is a history of both the conflict and the attempt to give Ludlow a contemporary identity and its impact on the American labor movement. The Ludlow Centenary Commemoration Commission has restored the ruined site, collected personal stories from descendants of the massacre and is educating the public about both Ludlow and Labor history. The commission hopes its work will attract more tourists to Ludlow.
Most of the “communities of Ludlow” have dry things about the commission’s organization. What makes the book compelling are the stories of the strike participants. Linda Linville talks about her grandmother, Cedelina Costa. Sadie rallies the women to support the strikers and refuses to leave Ludlow and seek safety. Because she stayed behind, she and her two children were killed.
Mary Petrucci survived but lost her children. She and her husband put their lives back together after the strike and started a second family.
“White People on Vacation” by Alex Miller (Malarkey Books)
So what does a bored foursome of college seniors do when they’re bored? They go to Hawaii of course.
Avril vaguely expects to save the world. The misspoken Roger hopes to connect. Natalie and Nate, a couple from junior high, want to enjoy life on their rich dad’s credit card. Some amazing things happen on vacation in this insightful novel about the current generation of twenty-somethings.
Nate is the narrator in Colorado author Alex Miller’s insightful “White People on Vacation.” Nate is about to graduate but has no idea what he wants to do with his life. After all his years together, he is bored with Natalie, whose only interest is spending money and playing Candy Crush on her iPhone. When Natalie ignores him for flirting with a group of beach bums, Nate turns to Avril and, well, you can guess what happens. Meanwhile, Roger falls out with the locals while confronting every girl he encounters, including Natalie.
Miller writes about what the publisher calls “a generation struggling to live a meaningful life in the age of late capitalism.” Maybe it is, but Miller’s strength lies in his portrayal of a group of entitled mates who expect to find the good life amid sun and surf, sex and booze and drugs in a wonderland vacation. So much for meaningful.
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