Great Lakes, Great Reads

HSM is partnering with MLive newspapers, formerly Booth Newspapers, to introduce readers to books on state history and culture. The books listed here were recently featured in MLive’s column, “Great Lakes, Great Reads.” These and other book summaries can be found in Michigan History magazine and Chronicle. For more information on these publications and how to subscribe, please use the links below.

Michigan History magazine features “Good Reads,” and Chronicle, HSM’s membership magazine, features “New Michigan Books.”


In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

By Stephen M. Ward

Stephen M. Ward’s In Love and Struggle follows the personal and political lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs, two extraordinarily significant figures in the African-American Civil Rights movement. While living in Detroit, the married couple contributed to the early Black Power movement and laid much of the intellectual framework for the city’s racial and urban activism during the post-World War II period. Ward’s work acts both as a dual biography as well as a telling illustration of Detroit’s communities during the mid- and late-twentieth century.

The University of North Carolina Press


as seen in Michigan History


Twelve Twenty-Five: The Life and Times of a Steam Locomotive

By Kevin P. Keefe

You may recognize Pere Marquette No. 1225 as the steam engine from the 2004 movie The Polar Express. However, the story of the “Christmas Engine” goes back much further than that. The train has an interesting past, which is extraordinary since it almost didn’t have a past at all until it was salvaged from a scrapyard by Michigan State University. Author Kevin P. Keefe examines how the locomotive went from being just another train to becoming an important piece of Michigan history—with many miles on it.

Michigan State University Press


as seen in Michigan History


Michigan Apples: History & Tradition

By Sharon Kegerreis

In Michigan Apples, author Sharon Kegerreis offers readers an opportunity to travel through time and experience the remarkable growth of Michigan’s apple traditions. As early as the seventeenth century, French Jesuit missionaries began planting apple seeds throughout the Michigan wilderness. By the time pioneers traveled to the territory and developed the settlement at Detroit, the sight of enormous apple trees in the region was commonplace, and it was not long before Michigan’s apple orchards grew to rival those of New England. Today, 850 farms containing more than 9 million apple trees contribute to an incredibly vibrant industry.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


General Henry Baxter, 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry

By Jay C. Martin

Henry Baxter—who came to Michigan from New York—had many notable achievements during the Civil War, such as defending the Union Line on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. His lack of prewar military training never hindered him. General Henry Baxter, 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry explores the 19-century American’s lucrative life, which included accomplishments such as co-founding what later became the Republican Party, serving as President Grant’s diplomat to Honduras, and helping to shape our state’s educational and business foundations.

McFarland & Company, Inc.


as seen in Michigan History


Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football

By John U. Bacon

Since its founding in 1879, the University of Michigan’s football program has seen both monumental rises and tragic falls. John U. Bacon traces the rich history of Michigan football and focuses specifically on the period between 2010 and 2014, during which it experienced a tragic collapse and miraculous rebirth. Bacon explains how the commercialization of college sports threatened the university’s athletic traditions and even its identity as an academic institution, and how new head coach Jim Harbaugh—who turned down the NFL to return to his alma mater—turned it all around.

St. Martin’s Press


as seen in Michigan History


In Pursuit of Faithfulness: Conviction, Conflict, and Compromise in Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference

By Rich Preheim

As the title suggests, Rich Preheim’s narrative history describes the development of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. During the 1840s, waves of American settlers hailing from the eastern United States traveled westward with hopes of finding cheaper lands on which to live, work, and worship freely. Among them were Mennonite families seeking to build strong communities grounded on a strong commitment to their shared religion. Preheim explores the founding of these communities in Michigan and Indiana, the steady evolution of the Mennonite Church from past to present, and the impact of both tradition and modernization on the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. Formative issues explored in this work include ecclesial identity, religious loyalty, and denominationalism. The roles of women in the Mennonite Church are also explored, with Preheim drawing on reports of conflicts about leadership, sexuality, and divorce. In Pursuit of Faithfulness readily offers readers a well-researched and well-written illustration of the dynamics of Mennonite congregational life.

Herald Press


as seen in Chronicle


Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate

By Susan J. Newhof

In 1916, Charles Stewart Mott—known for his large hold on General Motors stock—and his wife, Ethel Harding Mott, bought 64 acres on the outskirts of downtown Flint. The gentleman’s farm they built was dubbed Applewood, and their six children created many memories there. Join author Susan J. Mott as she explores the countless other memories made at Applewood during its first 100 years. From cherished nannies to visits from political figures and early automotive giants, the estate has a rich past worth sharing.

Ruth Mott Foundation


as seen in Michigan History


Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man’s Survival on the Open Sea

By Michael Schumacher

On November 29, 1966, the Daniel J. Morrell—a 600-foot freighter that was in operation for 60 years—was broken in half by a violent storm that shook Lake Huron. Twenty-five of the ship’s 29-man crew died in the sinking, and three more soon succumbed to the frigid temperatures. That left Dennis Hale as the sole survivor. Torn in Two familiarizes readers with the circumstances surrounding the event and tells the gripping story of the search for Hale and his crew mates.

University of Minnesota Press


as seen in Michigan History


The Original Battle Creek Crime King: Adam “Pump” Arnold’s Vile Reign

By Blaine Pardoe And Victoria Hester

He tricked the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union into buying his tombstone, he ran a whisky business but never drank, and he was convicted for the murder of his own son. Battle Creek residents won’t soon forget about Adam “Pump” Arnold, a man who was conscious of the laws during the late 1800s but simply didn’t care to follow them. Together, authors Blaine Pardoe and Victoria Hester—a father-daughter duo—discuss the many hats he wore, such as arsonist, pawnbroker, gambler, and reckless driver. The criminal’s story has a peculiar mix of laughter, anguish, and pure disbelief.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


Detroit Beer: A History of Brewing in the Motor City

By Stephen C. Johnson

Brewing has been alive and well in Detroit since the mid-1800s, and today, it ranks sixth in the country for number of breweries. The city’s plethora of breweries and brewpubs give beer lovers an endless list of culturally diverse options to try. A glance at a menu reveals American favorites, as well as German and Belgian classics that made their way here years ago with immigrants searching for better opportunities. Filled with historic and present-day photos and written from the viewpoint of author Stephen C. Johnson, Detroit Beer examines the Motor City’s brewing past and present.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


Ink Trails II: Michigan’s Famous and Forgotten Authors

By Dave Dempsey and Jack Dempsey

As volume II of this compilation biography attests, Michigan has been the home and inspiration to a tremendous number of men and women of letters. Some, like Ernest Hemingway, were giants. Others are forgotten. Some harvested vast sums from their writing, others very little. Some created for decades, while a few had a single burst and went silent. And many were moved by the character of the state’s outdoors—for example, Frances Margaret Fox captivated by the majesty of the Straits—making Michigan an uncredited coauthor in the majority of their works.

Michigan State University Press


as seen in Michigan History


Paul Bunyan in Michigan: Yooper Logging, Lore & Legends

By Jon C. Stott

The winter of blue snow. Beasts like the hodag, the flitterick, and the agropelter. Loggers who settled Michigan’s Upper Peninsula whiled away winter evenings with tales of extreme weather, strange geography, mythical creatures, and improbable feats. One legendary figure strode confidently from one story to the next: Paul Bunyan, his feats growing with every retelling. Author Jon Stott frames the stories in their historical and literary context, showing how the tall tales helped loggers laugh at elements of their lives that could be annoying at best—and tragic at worst.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice

By David Pilgrim

For those who came of age after landmark civil rights legislation was passed, it’s difficult to comprehend what it was like to be an African American living under Jim Crow segregation. “Understanding Jim Crow” draws from the collections of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids to tell that story. The book’s images of racist objects demonstrate the elaborate scaffolding of a caste system that served to dehumanize blacks and legitimize discrimination—and now serve as a starting point for racial understanding.

PM Press


as seen in Michigan History


Russell Kirk: American Conservative

By Bradley J. Birzer

Emerging from two decades of the Great Depression and the New Deal and facing the rise of radical ideologies abroad, the American Right in the 1950s seemed beaten, broken, and adrift. Russell Kirk’s 1953 masterpiece, “The Conservative Mind,” would become the intellectual touchstone for a reinvigorated movement, uniting like-minded people under a single school of thought. Author Bradley J. Birzer draws on Kirk’s diaries and papers to explore the theorist’s intellectual roots, development, and influence on figures like Barry Goldwater—who persuaded the Mecosta County resident to participate in his campaign for president.

University Press of Kentucky


as seen in Michigan History


Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes

By William Rapai

William Rapai’s Lake Invaders highlights important issues and current events concerning the dangers of invasive species moving into the Great Lakes. While the author notes that Asian carp have gained the most national notoriety, there are dozens of other aquatic species that are every bit as dangerous—and some of them have already made their homes in the lakes. They are drastically altering the populations of native species, changing the water chemistry, and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem’s natural food web. While it may already be too late to rid the Great Lakes of these species entirely, Rapai offers a number of suggestions as to what can be done to curb their numbers and ensure that these invasion species do not become the only species left in the lakes. Lake Invaders brings the complicated and controversial issue directly into the hands of a broad readership. The author’s masterful style of writing, in which he combines engaging prose with scientific evidence, makes this book a must-read for those interested—or worried—about invasive species living in the Great Lakes.

Wayne State University Press


as seen in Chronicle


The Legend Lives On: S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald

By Bruce Lynn And Christopher Winters

Four decades after the Edmund Fitzgerald went missing without a distress call of any kind, the tragedy continues to inspire curiously, wonder, and grief. Great lakes photojournalist Chris Winters and Bruce Lynn, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, have assembled a comprehensive look at the Fitz, drawing on archival material and more than 300 photographs of the ship—above and below the surface. Beginning with its launch at River Rouge in 1958, the book documents the vessel’s working life and loss, including interviews with individuals connected with the ship and details of the men who worked on board. “The Legend Lives On” gives an illustrated glimpse at the remarkable life and tragic loss of a ship and a crew that remain woven inextricably into the fabric and folklore of North America’s inland seas.

Running Light Press


as seen in Michigan History


Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America

By Michael A. McDonnell

Although less known nationally than the Iroquois or Sioux, the Anishinaabeg were equally influential. “Masters of Empire” follows the story of one Anishinaabeg group, the Odawa, who settled at the straits between Lakes Michigan and Huron, then a hub for trade and diplomacy throughout the Midwest. Telling the story from the Native-American point of view, Michael McDonnell—an associate professor of history at the University of Sydney—shows how the Odawa both controlled their own destinies in the face of colonialism and influenced events as iconic as the American Revolution.

Hill and Wang


as seen in Michigan History


Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946

By James P. Leary

Dance tunes, ballads, lyric songs, hymns, laments, versified taunts, political anthems, and street cries. Through five CDs, a DVD documentary, and an annotated volume, “Folksongs of Another America” captures a transformative moment when America was in the throes of the Great Depression, World War II was erupting, and mass entertainment was expanding rapidly. The collection includes 187 representative performances, preserved in field recordings from the 1930s and ’40s. They showcase a significant part of the nation’s musical heritage: immigrant, Native-American, rural, and working-class performers in the Upper Midwest.

University of Wisconsin Press


as seen in Michigan History


On This Day in Detroit History

By Bill Loomis

On November 5, 1851, the Detroit-based abolitionist newspaper Voice of the Fugitive published a letter in support of escaped slaves. On December 6, 1901, a milkman complained of Detroit housewives stealing his glass bottles to can fruit and preserves, after a search warrant turned up 35 in one woman’s pantry. On July 3, 1904, Monk Parry became the first monkey to drive a car; on October 7, 1986, Steve Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings. On January 16, 1919, fine dining at the Statler Hotel included whale meat for dinner. In “On This Day in Detroit History,” local historian Bill Loomis covers more than 300 years of events, life, and culture in the Motor City, from its founding in 1701 through the 21st century—one day at a time.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


Enduring Truths: Sojourner’s Shadows and Substance

By Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby

Escaped slave and Michigan resident Sojourner Truth gained fame in the 19th century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator. She also earned a living partly by selling photographic carte de visite portraits of herself, at lectures and by mail. Despite being illiterate, Truth copyrighted her photographs in her own name, adding the caption “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance.” This book explores how Truth used her own image—mass produced and distributed via a then-new form of technology—to raise money to support her activism and the fight against slavery. Author Darcy Grigsby, a professor of art history at the University of California-Berkley, establishes a range of important contexts for Truth’s portraits: for example, the shared politics of Truth’s cartes de visite and federal banknotes, both created to fund the Union cause, and the ways that photography processes of the day complicated the portrayal of darker skin tones.

The University of Chicago Press


as seen in Michigan History


Wolverine: A Photographic History of Michigan Football

By Alan Glenn And Mike Rosenbaum

The year 1997 turned out to be a perfect season for the University of Michigan college football team. Fifty years earlier, in 1947, had been another 10-0 season for the Wolverines. Through more than 1,000 rare and never-before-published images from the Ann Arbor News archives, “Wolverine” captures the highlights of U-M football history on and off the field, with photos of fans, coaches, cheerleaders, players, and teams during five outstanding seasons: 1925, 1947, 1969, 1997, and 2011. It’s also a look at how football culture has evolved over the last century, from coaches dressed in suit and tie to the baseball hats and hoodies of today. Narrative is provided by sports writer Mike Rosenbaum, with an introduction by Denard Robinson, Michigan’s star quarterback from 2010 to 2012.

Michigan History Project


as seen in Michigan History


Tapestry in Time

By Mary Navarre, OP

Vatican II radically transformed the Roman Catholic Church around the world. The story these Dominican Sisters tell is one of change, growth, and empowerment during the decades after Vatican II. Organized around the four essentials of Dominican life – Prayer, Study, Common Life, and Ministry – Tapestry in Time weaves together written and oral histories from the Sisters themselves to describe how changes led to challenges and opposition.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.


as seen in Chronicle


Henry Ford for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities

By Ronald A. Reis

Written for ages 9 and up, this book tells the story of the automobile magnate’s life, from his humble beginnings tinkering with children’s toys on his family’s farm to the sale of his 15 millionth Model T in 1927. Drawing from newspaper and eyewitness accounts, it details such events as his implementation of assembly-line manufacturing in 1913 and the doubling of his factory workers’ minimum wage in 1914. It also touches on Ford’s controversies, including his turn against the pro-union workforce in the 1930s and his contentious relationship with his son, creating the narrative of a flawed but influential individual. Included alongside the narrative are 21 suggestions for hands-on activities, such as building a simple electric motor with a D-sized battery, designing an automobile dashboard, and repairing a tire.

Chicago Review Press


as seen in Michigan History


Justus S. Stearns: Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933

By Michael W. Nagle

He started out milking cows on his father’s farm in rural New York. By the turn of the 20th century, Justus S. Stearns had become the “Pine King,” Michigan’s largest producer of manufactured lumber. Over the course of his career, Stearns would own a mine, a railroad, hotels, and at least 30 manufacturing businesses—making everything from motors to kitchen utensils—and serve one term as Michigan’s secretary of state. His practices mixed paternalism, Progressive politics, and Social Darwinism. And his philanthropies would have a profound impact on Ludington, his home for more than 50 years.

Wayne State University Press


as seen in Michigan History


Michigan Literary Luminaries: From Elmore Leonard to Robert Hayden

By Anna Clark

Detroiter Dudley Randall revolutionized American literature by doing for poets what Motown Records did for musicians. Saginaw greenhouses shaped the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Theodore Roethke. And in Kalamazoo, “you can’t throw a rock without hitting a poet.” From Ernest Hemingway’s rural adventures to the gritty fiction of Joyce Carol Oates, Michigan’s landscape has inspired generations of the nation’s greatest storytellers. In “Michigan Literary Luminaries,” author Anna Clark shines a spotlight on this rich heritage of the Great Lakes State, revealing its written culture through a mixture of history, literary criticism, and original reporting.

The History Press


as seen in Michigan History


Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story

By David Maraniss

1963 in Detroit seemed like the embodiment of the American dream, with legendary leaders ranging from Henry Ford II, Walter Reuther, and Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh to Berry Gordy, Reverend C.L. Franklin, and his daughter Aretha. It was a year that glowed with promise, but at the same time, segregation and labor struggles left the city hovering on the verge of its demise. “Once in a Great City” exposes the evidence of collapse looming even in this seemingly golden era—yet points out that, despite what was lost, so much of what Detroit gave America endures.

Simon & Schuster


as seen in Michigan History


Ottawa Stories from the Springs

Translated and Edited By Howard Webkamigad

In the late 1940s and early ’50s, a graduate student named Jane Willets traveled to Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, collecting stories from Anishnaabe tribal elders in Harbor Springs as part of her anthropology research. Nearly 80 years later, those recordings have been transcribed and translated by Howard Webkamigad, a professor of Anishinaabemowin at Michigan State University. The stories draw on Anishinaabe legends, fables, trickster stories, parables, and humor, and feature side-by-side translations, giving insight into that culture through the words of the culture-bearers themselves.

Michigan State University Press


as seen in Michigan History


Rock Down, Coal Up: The Story of the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad

By Chuck Pomazal

Rock Down, Coal Up tells the story of what it took to run the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad. The book’s title subtly explains the railroad’s purpose, which was to take the Quincy Mining Company’s copper rock down to the Torch Lake Mill and transport coal back up to the mines. Rock Down, Coal Up is packed full of photographs, maps and drawings to help explain why the railroad was crucial to the mining company’s success.

Quincy Mine Hoist Association


as seen in Chronicle


Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes: A History of Passenger Steamships on the Inland Seas

By Joel Stone

On the Great Lakes of the 19th century, the steamboat era was at its peak. Steam-powered ships provided one of the most reliable and comfortable transportation options in the United States, becoming a critical partner in railroad expansion—and the heart of a thriving recreation industry. Palatial ships created memories for millions while carrying passengers between the region’s major industrial ports of Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto. Author Joel Stone—senior curator at the Detroit Historical Society—revisits this important era of maritime history, marked by elegance and adventure, politics and wealth, triumph and tragedy.

University of Michigan Press


as seen in Michigan History


Bug Fighters: A History of Dow AgroSciences, 1897-2007

By E.N. Brandt

The battle with bugs has been a human preoccupation throughout history, and only in the 20th century could humankind begin to claim a victory. “Bug Fighters” focuses on Dow AgroSciences, one of the major agricultural chemical manufacturers whose products have contributed to the fight for farming productivity. The book, written by Dow historian E.N. Brandt, traces company history through first-person accounts from groups of key employees. They are plant pathologists, entomologists, soil scientists, synthesis chemists—a disparate group of specialists who worked for more than a century to create new and better pesticides used on farms and in gardens today.

Saginaw Valley State University

(989) 631-6097


as seen in Michigan History


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