Meet my great great grandfather Reese, who emigrated from Wales to Wisconsin in the 1860s and married Matilda, whose family originated in Saarland. And my husband Bob’s great grandfather Jacob, who emigrated from Bavaria to Ohio around the same time. He married Maria, whose family originated in Hesse.
These men are the most recent immigrants in our respective families. They arrived with nothing but fortitude and enthusiasm and became Americans. I think of them as two precious scraps in America’s wondrous crazy-quilt. In gratitude to all newcomers from wherever they originate, I’m recommending six tales of immigration that foster admiration and appreciation.Read more…
Two audiobooks we reviewed this week made me think about what a great variety of communities and lifestyles we have across the country. Several recent audiobooks have brought to mind small towns. The cross-country journeys of authors James and Deborah Fallows to small communities across the U.S. are the topic of OUR TOWNS: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. Reading about the audiobook, I was curious what the authors learned, and about the places they explored, like Erie, Pennsylvania, or Fresno, California. James Fallows wrote an article for The Atlantic, “The Reinvention of America,” just as the book and audiobook were released. Read more…
From Prohibition to marijuana’s budding legalization
A century ago, the United States experimented with a federal mandate prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. Enforcement turned out to be a Sisyphean task, and repeal of Prohibition was legislated less than 20 years later. The remainder of the 20th century turned legal enforcement against other potentially intoxicants (called vaguely “drugs”) and included a kind of unevenness in enforcement that punished poorer communities, often of color, while turning an increasingly blind eye, across the ensuing decades, to wealthier ingesters of coke, marijuana, and prescription pharmaceuticals taken beyond a regulated relationship between prescribing physician and patient.
In the past few years of the 21st century, while marijuana cultivation, sale, and use continue to carry federal criminal penalties, several states have passed laws that, at first, legalized marijuana for medical use, and, more recently, for recreational use as well. With New Year’s drinking behind us and contentious legal paths ahead on the federal level for changing standards of acceptable marijuana use, here’s an audiobook path from Prohibition through marijuana’s budding legalization. Read more…
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.
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