If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. - Rudyard Kipling
By Janet Lyons
Originally posted on the Maine Historical Society blog on November 17, 2014.
One component of the Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War grant is that communities come together to discuss books that are relevant to the Civil War. The intent is to get people talking about big ideas and making connections.
Books for these discussions are chosen for their ability to raise questions and lead to discussion about motivation, transformation, and legacy. Why did Mainers care about and fight in the Civil War? What did the Civil War change at home and in the wider world? Why does the Civil War still matter today? What would I have done?
So often our conversations about the Civil War revolve around battles and slavery but don’t challenge us to think about how our lives were changed by events 150 years ago, and why states’ rights and race are still divisive issues today.
In order to delve deeper into the Civil War and create lively discussions, our teams reviewed books to find titles that will reach a wide variety of readers in their communities.
All five teams have chosen books to discuss primarily throughout February and March; some have even started to get them into the hands of local readers through libraries and schools.
Most of the book discussions will be facilitated by a local scholar, and discussion dates and locations will be published locally and on the Maine Humanities Council website. If you are looking for an interesting Civil War read consider one of these titles, and join in on a discussion near you!
- Readers in the Western Foothills region will travel to 1861 Wiscasset, Maine, as they read and discuss the young adult book Uncertain Glory by Maine author Lea Waite. If you are a mystery lover in the Rumford area consider also joining “The Mystery Readers Group” at the Rumford Public Library to read and discuss Faded Coat of Blueby Ralph Peters.
- Students at Gould Academy and residents of Bethel will be going back in time as they read and discuss short stories written by Ambrose Bierce, the only major author to have been a front-line soldier in the Civil War. His Civil War Stories is intriguing and full of the unexpected.
- In both Pittsfield and Rumford, students, veterans, and community members will be reading and discussing Soldier’s Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteersby Gary Paulsen. This short book by an award-winning author sparked a lot of discussion in Presque Isle last winter so we anticipate some great conversations in the upcoming months.
- In March, community members in Scarborough will come together for a weekend of all things Civil War and will discuss two young adult books. Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, a historical fiction and mystery book, will be read by middle school students and adults. Billy Boy: The Sunday Soldier of the Seventeenth Maine by local author Jean Flahive follows a young man from Berwick, Maine, to the battlefield and back home again. This book is inspired by an actual event and a real Maine person, Billy Laird.
- The first book discussion in the Jay/Livermore Falls region was held in October at Norlands. Upcoming reads include For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James McPherson and This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust. Both of these works of non-fiction have the potential for interesting discussions about life in the Civil War era and life in the twenty-first century. After participating in three scholar facilitated book discussions Spruce Mountain High School students will take on the role of facilitators as they lead middle school students in discussions of the youth book The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodney Philbrick.