History & Politics

06/21/2017 - 1:43pm
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of A Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed a property listing for a grand estate that had been unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled into one of the most surprising American stories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Empty Mansions is a rich tale of wealth and loss, complete with copper barons, Gilded Age opulence, and backdoor politics. At its heart is a reclusive 104-year-old heiress named Huguette Clark. Dedman has collaborated with Huguette's cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have had frequent conversations with her, to tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter who is born into an almost royal family of amazing wealth and privilege, yet who secrets herself away from the outside world. Empty Mansions reveals a complete picture of the enigmatic Huguette Clark, heiress to one of the greatest fortunes in American history, a woman who had not been photographed in public since the 1920s. (catalog summary)

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06/13/2017 - 2:02pm
Cover to Spice Dreams

Whether you consider it a melting pot or salad bowl, America’s culinary culture is rich with spices, both savory and sweet. Caraway seeds add piquancy to Jewish rye breads. Paprika, hot or mild, gives Hungarian stews and meats warmth and subtlety. Vanilla, theoretically the blandest of flavors, is intrinsic to many beloved forms of chocolate, cookies, cakes and even tea and coffee.  

Indian spice blends, named curries when made up for Europeans, vary from district to district, from mellow to fiery. In Ethiopia, a berbere spice combination may take a dozen different ingredients—typically including chiles, allspice, cardamom, and fenugreek—to create unforgettable flavor.

If you are interested in exploring new types of cuisine or want to learn more about these ingredients’ place in world history, books about spice can brighten your summer.

05/30/2017 - 2:49am
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures

For the better part of the 20th century, the card catalog stood as a gateway to the wonders of the library. In The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures, the Library of Congress celebrates the importance of the card catalog throughout library history.

The card catalog is seen as one of the most versatile and durable organizational scheme developed throughout history. It is the map to go to if you want to navigate your way through the vast wilderness of books. Although the beginnings of the card catalog started off slowly, it now covers every subject, from ancient to modern history, in libraries around the world. Peter Devereaux, writer-editor for the Library of Congress, notes that the catalog is a "tangible example of humanity's effort to establish and preserve the possibility of order."

05/17/2017 - 8:46am
Patawomek village coming to HQ

Fifty members of the Patawomeck tribe will recreate one of their villages at the library. On the front lawn, you’ll smell venison and fish roasting on an open fire, hear live Patawomeck music, explore a longhouse, sit in a 13-foot canoe, and see Patawomeck dancing. You and your family can pound cornmeal, play Indian football, play drums, and meet a Pocahontas reenactor. Inside the theatre, you’ll see artifacts that are 10,000 years old, learn how regalia is made, hear Patawomeck storytelling, watch a movie, and make crafts.

Save the date: Saturday, August 5, from 9:00-3:00 at Headquarters Library. This event will be cancelled if there is rain.

05/08/2017 - 3:33pm

Our expert genealogy librarians are taking their research skills on the road this summer to teach you how to jump-start tracing your family’s roots. Whether you are a complete novice at this family tree thing, or you’ve been at it a while and are stuck, we can help. Join us for a 90-minute training session at your nearest branch.

05/08/2017 - 3:05pm
Fredericksburg’s Battlefield Granite

 A longtime area resident, Noel Harrison is Manager of Easements for the Fredericksburg office of the National Park Service.

To the almost-forgotten past belongs the story of Fredericksburg’s “Battlefield granite” quarries, once touted as being among “the most valuable granite properties in the United States.”

05/03/2017 - 12:52pm
Dan Enos, Virginiana Volunteer

The Virginiana Room, also known as VR, is located on the lower level of Headquarters Library on Caroline Street. It is a bright and comfortable space where researchers, local and regional history buffs, genealogists, and plain old curious browsers can access books, maps, local government documents & publications, family records, and a few hundred years of newspapers on microfilm. The people who use the collection are often compiling a family history, writing a book, or completing an assignment for school. But the VR has proven useful in many other ways for people who find creative uses for the collection.

05/03/2017 - 2:28am
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

Author Jennifer Wright studies plagues. Often individuals ask if she studies "modern" plagues, such as using your cell phone too much. But in her new book Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, she reveals that her interest lies within the history of plagues where you break out in sores and turn feverish. The kind of plagues that kill you.

04/20/2017 - 2:17am
William Shakespeare: Scenes from the Life of the World's Greatest Writer

William Shakespeare is considered to be one of the most influential playwrights in literature. Over four hundred years ago, he lit up the stage at the famous Globe Theater in 16th- and 17th-century England with his lavish histories, comedies, and tragedies.

04/19/2017 - 2:16am
The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia: Seeking Truth at Rattlesnake Mountain

Author Jim Hall will present a lecture about his book at CRRL’s Headquarters Library on Thursday, April 27, 2017, at 7:00 PM.

The charred remains of Shedrick Thompson had not yet been cut from the tree from which he had been hanged before the controversy over his fate began. Thompson’s 1932 death was ruled a suicide by white authorities in rural Fauquier County, where Thompson lived and died. However, the local Fauquier population, white and black, knew that he had been lynched and his body torched. Thompson was the prime suspect in the severe beating of Henry and Mamie Baxley, a prominent local couple and Thompson’s landlords, who were viciously attacked in their home while their young son slept in the next room. Henry was knocked out cold by his attacker, and Mamie was dragged from the home and marched in the dead of night across several fields and into the woods where the assault continued. After the attack, Thompson vanished, most likely into the nearby foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where he had grown up. Despite numerous manhunts, his whereabouts would remain a mystery until two months later, when he died at the end of a rope on Rattlesnake Mountain.

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