Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Dust and Smoke: The Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

April 25 marks the 170th anniversary of the start of the Mexican-American War, a conflict marked by ironic twists and turns that ended with the United States gaining nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. 

The war between Mexico and the United States began with a boundary dispute, evidenced at the very start by the fact that both sides claimed the blood-spilling began on their respective soil.  Nonetheless, the war was America’s first fought chiefly on foreign soil.

On the home front, both nations faced significant opposition.  The Mexican forces included recent deserters from the nation to the north, and several U.S. Congressmen spoke against the war.  Meanwhile, some Mexicans aided the American army that was marching through Mexico.   
U.S. forces easily racked up several victories against Mexico, which simultaneously was being attacked by Comanche bands in the same territory.   Mexico asked the exiled General Santa Anna to return to lead them to victory.  Santa Anna convinced American President James Polk to allow him to return in exchange for negotiating Mexico’s surrender terms favorable to the U.S.  

Santa Anna turned the tables, though, and immediately led the Mexican army in a charge against American soldiers in early 1847.  The war raged on for another year until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848, ending the Mexican-American War in favor of the United States. Under the treaty, the U.S. gained an additional 525,000 square miles and recognition that the Rio Grande River was America’s southern boundary.

The acquisition of vast new lands for America intensified the growing internal conflict over slavery as Congress debated whether slavery should be expanded westward.  Twelve years later, the Civil War began.

Included on the display are:  The Eagle: The Autobiography of Santa Anna; The Rogue’s March: John Riley and the St. Patrick’s Battalion; and PBS Home Video: U.S.-Mexican War 1846-1848.  Feel free to check out any of the items on the display here at the Al Harris Library and step back in time. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

More Than One Book? Reading Just Gets Better. . .

           Serialized fiction became very popular during the Victorian era when a chapter or section of a book was published monthly or weekly in newspapers or magazines. Two contemporary examples of this type of serial publishing are John Grisham’s The Painted House and Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street.  Although 44 Scotland Street began as a newspaper serialization, it became so popular that there are now ten books focusing on the characters from the original work. 
          It is not uncommon for readers to become attached to characters in the books they read.  In fact, we often want to know more about where a character is from and what happened in the world at the time in which he/she lives.  In order to give readers more, some authors will continue with the same characters, settings, and timelines in more than one book.  Since some authors are willing to add more development by writing additional books based upon a story line, the result can be an entertaining and informative series for readers to enjoy.

In some instances, serialized books do not have to be read in the order of publication; however, many times there is an internal chronology that develops the characters or changes the time period in which the events take place.  Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, Jane Smiley’s Last Hundred Years Trilogy, and Edward Rutherfurd’s Dublin Saga are examples of series books that use chronological development in a logical and meaningful way that keeps us entertained.

Many mystery series books such as those written by Oklahoma authors Jean Hager, Carolyn Hart, and William Bernhardt do not require reading in order of publication for understanding of the events of the story.  With a series such as one of these, it is easy to pick up a book that involves a protagonist we have enjoyed reading about before and not worry about whether this book was published after the last book we read about the same character.

The display at the front door includes a variety of books whose characters and their stories continue in additional volumes.  Take a look at what is available.  You will find all types of literature in these volumes--  
mystery, suspense, history, romance, science fiction. Perhaps you will find a series you have seen on television or in a movie, a series that will take you through a particular period of time or a special event, or one with characters with whom you can identify.  These books are just a sample of the series offerings available for you to check out and enjoy here at the Al Harris Library.

Favorite Books and National Library Week

         Do you have a favorite book? A book that has motivated you, entertained you, educated you, and changed your perspective? The Al Harris Library invites you to tell us about your favorite book!!!

          In Celebration of National Library Week (April 10th-16th), the Al Harris Library is displaying an exhibit of favorite books. We are asking students, staff, and faculty for information about why this book is a favorite.

          If you would like to participate, please leave a comment on the Al Harris Library Facebook page or link to the form from this blog

       Remember to check out the other displays at the Al Harris Library. Who knows when you will discover your next favorite book!