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Indiana Historical Society Holiday Book Fair: what sells?

Festival of Trees - Revision 01The first weekend in December is always reserved at Hawthorne Publishing for the Holiday book fair in downtown Indianapolis. The Indiana Historical Society has recently combined this much-anticipated book event with a Christmas tree extravaganza which fills almost every room at the facility on Ohio street with sparkling trees of red and green but also magenta, purple and snowflake white.

This year’s fair was not held as it is usually in the Lilly auditorium, the large atrium-like room in the center of the building. Instead, the trees occupied the space, delighting a thousand or more visitors that day. Families could look at Christmas trees and then go upstairs and get a great read on Indiana history.

The Author Fair at the Society was originated some fifteen years ago to honor the best books in the Hoosier state. Authors submit their recent publications and a literary jury judges them and selects about 60 to “Hi, ho, come to the fair.”

The Author Fair this year was upstairs in the William Henry Smith library. Books and exhibits had been moved out by volunteers in a matter of hours and tables set up for the authors whose new book for the year had been selected from three times that many applicants from Indiana. Qualifications were connection to the Hoosier state of the title or the author him/herself, contribution to Hoosier history, and general interest and quality of the book.

Curiosities-xlMy own new book A Cabinet of Curiosities from the Civil War in Indiana: Interesting, Moving and Sometimes Odd Stories from the Human Side of the War was there, and I sat with it at a table near the back of the library in a room along with other war history books.

Sports books are always particularly featured; fans who wanted to read about Bobby Knight or the Pacers in some form lined up to get their books autographed and purchased right on the spot in a larger central room. Clearly, basketball and football books were the most popular titles in this sports-interest state. But it was also obvious from the never-ending line of history buffs who filtered through the book fair that many folk in Indiana care about the state’s history itself.

It is reassuring to know that the purpose of my new book, to stimulate interest and memory of the Civil War especially in the small towns of Indiana is bearing fruit, not necessarily because of my own efforts. A certain group of people are always drawn to the dramatic and all-encompassing history of the great conflict which sent 200,000 Hoosier men to the eastern and western theaters of war and  killed 20,000 of them. The stark human drama is irresistible to dedicated buffs and citizens in general.

DreamDivided1My series of books on the Civil War just about sold out. Some people from Wabash Indiana came to the table to say they had driven to the Author Fair particularly to get other books; they had heard me speak in Wabash and bought the new book and now wished to get my other titles The Dream Divided and Gallant Fourteenth: The Story of an Indiana Civil War Regiment. Many people were also visiting a neighboring table for the book about a Confederate Bulldog (Butler University student) and Andrea Neal’s book Road Trip: A Pocket History of Indiana. Children’s books with vivid, well designed covers were popular.

After they filled their carry-alls with history books, the families could visit Santa over near the room where microfilm is usually available for research.

The transformation of the usually staid rooms and files of Indiana’s long-time advocate for and preserver of our Hoosier history was spectacular and joyous.

Nancy Baxter, Hawthorne Senior Editor

You may order Nancy Baxter’s books on Indiana history by clicking back to the website.

Posted in Book Publishing, Books on Indiana, Indiana History |

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Day at the Indianapolis Public Library Shows Regional Publishing is Alive and Well!

The October Glick day at the downtown Indianapolis Public Library is a celebration of our Indiana authors. I recall that when I first met Gene Glick, our major Indianapolis philanthropist, at his office off 86th Street, this titan of largely apartment building in our state and beyond expressed love of Indiana’s literary heritage. “I want to see Indiana honor its writers. We have a fine literary tradition of our own,” he said.

Thus he and wife Marilyn were able to establish fifteen or so years ago the day which brings to the library would-be authors in for workshops and allows the public to meet our emerging writers, a different group each year. These best writers, chosen by a committee for high literary quality, are honored at the gala evening dinner which concludes the day. It is the Glicks’ dream come true and a significant event for Indiana literary tradition.

This year I taught a workshop for “Publishing Your Non-fiction book.” A group of perhaps twenty-two or three people formed a circle of chairs so we could all see each other and the attendees could contribute their own ideas to each other. This is a significant group for an afternoon workshop and all were energetic and eager to share ideas and learn how they could write, then publish a book.

What a variety of interests! As we went around the circle, each would-be author spoke of her (they were all women) subject and how she had come to decide to “Go for a book!”  One young woman told the story of walking in the woods and being aware of Indiana’s edible berries. It piqued her imagination and she wanted to know the scope of the edible wild plants in our forests and fields. She became a student of Hoosier flora and learned of a plethora of varieties of things to eat from the wild. And so—a book! Another told of her fascination with languages and the games they can engender and will put her theories out there. Teachers of specialized groups of children and adults had their learning theories to share in books.

One of the most interesting topics, which will certainly make a fine contribution to local history was a book by a child of the editor of the Jewish newspaper in Indiana and beyond. Although she was never interested in the paper when she was growing up, after her parents were gone, the entire world of interest in the history and success of this newspaper began to fascinate her, and she is in the midst of research which will take a while but has good promise.

Memoir writers were in the group; one octogenarian felt “compelled” to story of her southern upbringing in a town of rigid racial barriers, and how she had emerged from that early culture as a lifetime process to reject the racist underpinnings of that time in the deep south. “That story just came to me to be told. I have to do it.”

Perhaps that is the way for all of us, whether our tale is published or not, we must tell it. That is what makes writing so satisfying. We are blessed that not only did Gene and Marilyn Glick encourage writers to tell their stories with “Glick Day,” but they themselves put out their own stories, fascinating tales of hard work and high values and a deep sense of giving which made personal and civic success for this couple—and sincerely enriched our town.

By Hawthorne Senior Editor Nancy Baxter

glickBorn To Build: The Story of the Gene B. Glick Company  by Eugene Glick, 2nd edition was published by Hawthorne Publishing and is available on, as is Marilyn Glick’s honest and fascinating autobiography,


marilyn glcikOnce Upon a Lifetime: Marilyn’s Story  also published by Hawthorne and available on Amazon.


Posted in Gene Glick, Indiana State Library Center, Marilyn Glick |

Behind the Scenes at the Indiana Civil War Exhibit at the Indiana Historical Society

“A Letter Home from Gettysburg” is the new exhibit at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick lettersfromhomeHistory Center in downtown Indianapolis. Our family, two children, spouses and one grandchild were available to go to participate in this interesting “living history” presentation.

And participate is the correct word. A group of about ten people meets a costumed interpreter at the entrance to the exhibit, which is on the first floor of the Society, beyond the Cole Porter room. That room in itself is wonderful: a singer accompanied by a grand player piano sings the Cole Porter songs the listeners wish to hear as they sit at little café tables: “You’re the tops,” “Begin the Beguine” and several others are there on little menus to choose from. Our family loved it.

We had come to see the “You Are There” exhibit of the very regiment being featured in a letter home from Captain David Beem of the Fourteenth Indiana Volunteers. Many letters from the articulate young lawyer from Spencer are in the library collection of the Society. We have our own connections with this regiment, now regarded as one of the top Yankee regiments from Indiana. It served the entire war in the East, quite rare for Indiana soldiers, thus participating in the major battles the public knows of: Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and many others. My own great-grandfather John R. McClure was a private in the Fourteenth and was one of David Beem’s lifelong comrades and friends. They served as president (Beem) and secretary (McClure) of the reunion regiment 1865-1921.

The young portrayer, dressed in a beautiful period gown made by a Civil War dress specialist in Fort Wayne, ushered us into a cultural history anteroom which has records from Captain Beem’s unit. The time is July 12, 1863. The interpreters, (actors who play Beem’s father or mother or his wife Mahala) cannot know anything after that time, so we the audience are “friends visiting” and are ushered into the Beem parlor, decorated in period style.

“I am glad to see you, friends, as I wait for my ladies’ group to wrap bandages for the boys of the Fourteenth at the front,” says Mahala. She reads us the letter sent by her husband right after Gettysburg and as her voice fades, the battle in Pennsylvania which in reality decided the war, comes up on a movie screen. As Beem competently describes the battle of the second day at Gettysburg, where the Fourteenth was involved in preventing the capture of guns on the top of Cemetery Hill, scenes flash before us: cannon fire, muskets loaded and fired, men falling, and a color bearer, like that of the Fourteenth, falling dead with the flag still in his hands.

When the eight-minute film is over, Mahala asks for questions and we all can ask about things Hoosiers care about: Morgan the Raider, other bloody battles and her life at home. Our family and other families can experience what their Indiana ancestors actually lived and then go out again to see one of the flags they carried into battle, on loan from the War Memorial, which restored it.

So much goes into these exhibits at the Indiana Historical Society. And so much behind the scenes, which I was privileged to see as the exhibit went together: building of the”set,” assembling of the artifacts and posters and photographs, training of the actor-portrayers and publicity so the public knows what they can see if they make a trip downtown and a grand opening party with “camp food.”

Plaudits to the society. True patriotism and service are celebrated her.  As the men in the regiment used to say, “Here’s to the spirit of ’61-65.”

by Nancy Baxter, author of Gallant Fourteenth: The Story of an Indiana Civil War Regiment

You can click back and order the book on the Gallant Fourteenth.



Posted in civil war, Welcome |

GUEST APPEARANCE: Robert E. Lee and us: Robert May of Purdue gives us a sensible roadmap for statue replacing

LEECharlottesville, Virginia is roiling over the city council’s planned removal from a local park of a bronze statue of Robert E. Lee, seated upon his horse Traveller, with its replacement by a memorial to enslaved people. The controversy reignites contested issues that have played out frequently in recent years regarding the status and continuance of not only Confederate monuments but also Confederate flags and place names. In Charlottesville’s case, Ku Klux Klaners have been noisily defending the Lee monument, claiming, among other things, that removing it amounts to an erasure of history and heritage. Counter-protesters, contrarily, condemn the monument as an implicit endorsement of slavery, the Confederacy, and the South’s record of racial repression.

We seem to be deciding such controversies case-by-case. Some Confederate monuments and place names remain. Many, as we have seen recently in New Orleans, go. Much depends on the politics of a particular locale or the racial composition of its citizenry. Are there commonsense standards we should apply to all such cases? Could such standards also decide similar controversies about tarnished non-Confederates like Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson? Should we commemorate the former, who not only owned slaves but whose presidential administration upended Native Americans from their lands and moved them westward? What about Woodrow Wilson, whose presidency brought institutionalized segregation to federal agencies in Washington? I think there is a formula that could apply universally, which has as much to do with us as the historical persons at dispute.

Let me explain, using Lee as an example.

There are many things to admire about Robert E. Lee. Take his record during the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48. His brilliant reconnoitering of enemy positions and battery emplacements played a pivotal role in the crucial campaign that wound up conquering Mexico City. One can legitimately assail the U.S. war with Mexico — which acquired California and much of the West — as an example of U.S. imperialistic aggression. Abraham Lincoln did. But Lee’s record in the service of his nation was impeccable and merits our remembrance.

Were Lee’s heroism in Mexico, as well as his other national service accomplishments (e.g. tenure as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point) the reasons for statues in his honor, there would be no cause for their dismantling. But, of course, we know too well that no one would have memorialized Lee in 1924 (when Charlottesville’s monument was unveiled) and no one would worship him today had he not commanded the largest and most important Confederate army during the Civil War — the Army of Northern Virginia. During the conflict, Lee and his army virtually embodied the Confederate cause, even though there were other sizable Confederate forces in the field. After Appomattox, people exalted and romanticized his memory as a way of keeping the so-called “Lost Cause” viable. There is no separating Lee’s memory from the Confederacy.

When Lee resigned his U.S. army commission in April 1861 after the Civil War erupted and his state of Virginia left the Union to join the already-formed Confederacy, he made a voluntarily disloyal decision. He did not have to do this. Many southern U.S. army officers in the spring of 1861 acted differently, including Lee’s former commanding general in the U.S.-Mexican War, Winfield Scott, another Virginia native. Certainly Lee did not have to resign to make a decent living. The Lincoln administration, on Scott’s advice, actually offered Lee command of all Union armies just before Lee resigned his commission. Still, Lee joined a movement and military dedicated to destroying the United States as it existed at the time. Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea as dismemberment of Ukraine pales in comparison to the U.S.A.’s loss of eleven states in 1860-61. For good reason, many Confederate leaders went into exile when the Civil War ended, fearing prosecution for treason. Lee, it might be argued, committed treason the minute he bore arms against his former country.

Compounding Lee’s disloyalty, he cast his fate with a state and aspiring nation dedicated to preserving and expanding slavery, which is why so many Americans today, especially African Americans, take strong issue with Confederate monuments. Southern secessionists and Confederate founders repeatedly insisted they would preserve slavery against anticipated northern threats, especially from recently-elected U.S. president Abraham Lincoln and his Republican party.As the new government’s Vice President Alexander H. Stephens was proud to admit, the Confederacy upended the Declaration of Independence’s affirmation that all men are created equal. Instead, the Confederacy’s “cornerstone” rested “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery … is his natural and normal condition.” Although the U.S. Constitution never used the word “slavery,” the Confederate Constitution was loaded with such mentions and carefully designed provisions to insulate their coerced labor system from attack.

Contrary to myth, Lee was implicated in human bondage. Although he apparently disdained slavery in the abstract, famously calling it “a moral & political evil” in a letter to his wife, he held slaves at Arlington into the war and punished slaves for trying to escape. More damning, he affirmed in that same letter it might take 2,000 years to end slavery since African Americans needed long-term tutelage “as a race” to prepare for freedom! Even as the Civil War drew to a close in 1865, Lee confided in a private letter to a Virginia state senator that there was no way society could improve on the “humane” slave-master relationship that enlightened Christians had established in the South.

With Lee in mind, I would suggest the following formula for resolving disputes over Confederate monuments and place names. It measures why we venerate the particular persons in dispute. We need to ask, in all such cases, whether we commemorate men like Lee or, to give a parallel example, Jefferson Davis, for any reason other than for being symbols of a failed state unworthy of our approval? Davis not only was a U.S.-Mexican War hero like Lee, but he served as U.S. Senator and as a skilled U.S. Secretary of War (equivalent to today’s Secretary of Defense). Yet virtually all our statues and place names for Confederate figures, including Lee and Davis, only exist because of their treasonous attempt at a new nationhood to preserve slavery. We should insist, therefore, that they come down. In contrast, we venerate Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson not for their racially oppressive policies. We celebrate Jefferson for his contributions to American independence, his affirmations of religious liberty, his commitment to education, his inventiveness, his presidency’s success in acquiring Louisiana from France, and other matters like his role in originating America’s political party system. Wilson’s presidency is remembered primarily for its “New Freedom” legislative agenda and its responses to the challenges of World War I, not just its racial policies. Different standards apply in their cases than Lee’s.

Instead of using place names and statues to venerate Confederates responsible for the deaths and maiming wounds of astronomical numbers of Union soldiers trying to preserve this country, we should tell their history in books and articles and with historical markers and museum displays. According to one count, Lee’s army alone inflicted nearly 135,000 Union casualties just in its major battles and campaigns. We should not be worshiping him. But rather than removing statues of Jefferson and Wilson or renaming places honoring them, we should remember that virtually every national leader, of whatever country, is flawed in one way or another, while recalling their accomplishments. By ruminating over history’s complexities, we advance collectively as a people.

Robert E. May is the author of four books about the Civil War era. Most recently, his book “Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America” was a finalist for the Gilder-Lehman Lincoln book prize. He was consulting editing for Hawthorne’s new book A Cabinet of Curiosities from the Civil War in Indiana. Click back to order the book.

Posted in civil war |