Michigan Notable Books 2018

The idea that a Senator—Republican or Democrat—would put the greater good of the country ahead of party seems nearly impossible to imagine in our current climate of gridlock and divisiveness. But this hasn’t always been the case. Arthur H. Vandenberg (1884–1951), Republican from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the model of a consensus builder, and the coalitions he spearheaded continue to form the foundation of American foreign and domestic policy today. Edward R. Murrow called him “the central pivot of the entire era,” yet, despite his significance, Vandenberg has never received the full public attention he is due—until now. With this authoritative biography, Hendrik Meijer reveals how Vandenberg built and nurtured the bipartisan consensus that created the American Century. Originally the editor and publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald, Vandenberg was appointed and later elected to the Senate in 1928, where he became an outspoken opponent of the New Deal and a leader among the isolationists who resisted FDR’s efforts to aid European allies at the onset of World War II. But Vandenberg soon recognized the need for unity at the dawn of a new world order; and as a Republican leader, he worked closely with Democratic administrations to build the strong bipartisan consensus that established the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and NATO. Vandenberg, as Meijer reveals, was instrumental in organizing Congressional support for these monumental twentieth-century foreign policy decisions. Vandenberg’s life and career offer powerful lessons for today, and Meijer has given us a story that suggests an antidote to our current democratic challenges.

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

"Tough, smart, and struggling to stay afloat, August Snow is the embodiment of Detroit. The son of an African American father and a Mexican mother, August grew up in Detroit's Mexicantown and joined the Detroit police only to be drummed out of the force by a conspiracy of corrupt cops and politicians. But August fought back; he took on the city and got himself a $12 million wrongful dismissal settlement that left him low on friends. He has just returned to the house he grew up in after a year away and quickly learns he has many scores to settle. It's not long before he's summoned to the palatial Grosse Point Estates home of business magnate Eleanore Paget. Powerful and manipulative, Paget wants August to investigate the increasingly unusual happenings at her private wealth management bank. But detective work is no longer August's beat, and he declines. A day later, Paget is dead of an apparent suicide--which August isn't buying for a minute. What begins as an inquiry into Eleanore Paget's death soon drags August into a rat's nest of Detroit's most dangerous criminals, from corporate embezzlers to tattooed mercenaries. From the wealthy suburbs to the near-post-apocalyptic remains of the bankrupt city's factory districts, August Snow is a fast-paced tale of murder, greed, sex, economic cyber-terrorism, race and urban decay in modern Detroit."

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The history of the many contributions of African-American Detroit to the larger American project. If Paris, as the German critic Walter Benjamin put it, was the capital of the 19th century, then Detroit was surely the capital of 20th-century African-America. As native son Boyd (African-American History and Culture/City Coll. of New York; Black Panthers for Beginners, 2015, etc.), a respected author and journalist, recounts, this centrality dates back to the American Revolution but became pronounced at the time of the Civil War, when Detroit went from being an important station along the Underground Railroad to become an important source of abolitionism, industrialism, and sheer manpower for the war effort including black soldiers bound for the Union ranks. As the author notes, however, the ascendancy of Black Detroit did not mean an end to racial tension; though he grew up on a block with Italian, Irish, and Jewish families, "our blackness was for our neighbors an object of derision and insult." Boyd celebrates the rising-above that accompanied this ethnic contest, the grit and determination that put Berry Gordy's Motown on the map, lifted the members of the Supremes and the Miracles from the projects, and ushered in a second black literary renaissance through the pens of Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni. As he reminds his readers, immigrants and exiles from other regions and countries did their parts to shape Black Detroit: Malcolm X lived there before moving to New York and taking a leading part in the radical wing of the civil rights movement, while Rosa Parks moved there from the South in 1957. "Parks's commitment to fight Jim CrowNorth or Southwas unrelenting," writes the author. Though the city has fallen victim since to outmigration, its population having fallen from 1.8 million in 1950 to about 670,000 today, Boyd writes confidently that the city's African-American population will be central to its revival, concluding, "I'm proud to be a Detroiter." An inspiring, illuminating book that will interest students of urban history and the black experience.

Brewed in Michigan: The New Golden Age of Brewing in the Great Beer State is William Rapai's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"--a discussion of art and art's audience. The art in this case is beer. Craft beer. Michigan craft beer, to be exact. Like the Great Lakes and the automobile, beer has become a part of Michigan's identity. In 2016, Michigan ranked fifth in the number of craft breweries in the nation and tenth in the nation in craft beer production. Craft brewing now contributes more than $1.8 billion annually to the state's economy and is proving to be an economic catalyst, helping to revive declining cities and invigorate neighborhoods. This book is not a beer-tasting guide. Instead, Rapai aims to highlight the unique forces behind and exceptional attributes of the leading craft breweries in Michigan. Through a series of interviews with brewmasters over an eighteenth-month sojourn to microbreweries around the state, the author argues that Michigan craft beer is brewed by individuals with a passion for excellence who refuse to be process drones. It is brewed by people who have created a culture that values quality over quantity and measures tradition and innovation in equal parts. Similarly, the taprooms associated with these craft breweries have become a conduit for conversation--places for people to gather and discuss current events, raise money for charities, and search for ways to improve their communities. They're places where strangers become friends, friends fall in love, and lovers get married. These brewpubs and taprooms are an example in resourcefulness--renovating old churches and abandoned auto dealerships in Michigan's biggest cities, tiny suburbs, working-class neighborhoods, and farm towns. Beer, as it turns out, can be the lifeblood of a community.

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A history of the Michigan metropolis as a center of the Northern slave trade. "We tend to associate slavery with cotton in the commercial crop heyday of the southern cotton kingdom,'" writes MacArthur Fellow Miles (American Culture/Univ. of Michigan; The Cherokee Rose, 2015, etc.), "but in the northern interior space, slavery was yoked to the fur industry." In this connection, slavery enfolded Native Americans, putting individuals in thrall and binding communities in a network of trade obligations. When recently ascendant Americans imposed the Treaty of Detroit in 1807, they cleared several such well-entrenched communities both to create military defenses and to enhance the "processes of surveillance and recapture for American slaveholders" whose propertyin this case African-Americans tended to disappear into Native realms before the advent of the Underground Railroad. African-Americans were also bought and sold in Detroit, Miles writes, though this story is little known and unrecorded by any memorial. Whether those African-Americans were in personal service or worked as trappers or freighters, whether they were claimed by French Canadians, British, or American owners, they were just as unfree as if in New Orleans. Drawing on archival records and a thin scholarly literature, Miles pieces together a story in which African-Americans were used "like railroad cars in a pre-industrial transit system that connected sellers, buyers, and goods." At times, the narrative takes turns that push it away from general readers into the hands of postmodern-inclined academics: "There is perhaps one space in the American-Canadian borderlands in which a radical alterity to colonial and racialized complexity existed." But for the most part, the author's account is accessible to anyone with an interest in local history as well as the larger history of world systems in the time of the Seven Years War and beyond. A book likely to stand at the head of further research into the problem of Native and African-American slavery in the north country.

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An alarming account of the "slow-motion catastrophe" facing the world's largest freshwater system.Based on 13 years of reporting for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this exhaustively detailed examination of the Great Lakes reveals the extent to which this 94,000-square-mile natural resource has been exploited for two centuries. The main culprits have been "over-fishing, over-polluting, and over-prioritizing navigation," writes Egan, winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. Combining scientific details, the stories of researchers investigating ecological crises, and interviews with people who live and work along the lakes, the author crafts an absorbing narrative of science and human folly. The St. Lawrence Seaway, a system of locks, canals, and channels leading to the Atlantic Ocean, which allows "noxious species" from foreign ports to enter the lakes through ballast water dumped by freighters, has been a central player. Biologically contaminated ballast water is "the worst kind of pollution," writes Egan. "It breeds." As a result, mussels and other invasive species have been devastating the ecosystem and traveling across the country to wreak harm in the West. At the same time, farm-fertilizer runoff has helped create "massive seasonal toxic algae blooms that are turning [Lake] Erie's water into something that seems impossible for a sea of its size: poison." The blooms contain "the seeds of a natural and public health disaster." While lengthy and often highly technical, Egan's sections on frustrating attempts to engineer the lakes by introducing predator fish species underscore the complexity of the challenge. The author also covers the threats posed by climate change and attempts by outsiders to divert lake waters for profit. He notes that the political will is lacking to reduce farm runoffs. The lakes could "heal on their own," if protected from new invasions and if the fish and mussels already present "find a new ecological balance." Not light reading but essential for policy makers and highly recommended for the 40 million people who rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water.

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In the early 1900s, Detroit was leading the nation in architectural innovation and designer Wirt Rowland was at the forefront of this advancement, yet few are even aware of his substantial contribution to the evolution of architectural style. It is widely believed that celebrated local architect Albert Kahn designed many of Detroit's structures, such as the General Motors and First National Bank buildings. In fact, while Kahn's efforts were focused on running his highly successful firm, it was Rowland, his chief designer, who was responsible for the appearance and layout of these buildings--an important point in appreciating the contributions of both Kahn and Rowland. During the early twentieth century, Rowland devised a wholly new or "modern" design for buildings, one not reliant on decorative elements copied from architecture of the past. As buildings became more specialized for their intended use, Rowland met the challenge with entirely new design methodologies and a number of improved technologies and materials that subsequently became commonplace. Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture begins with a brief overview of Rowland's early life and career. Author Michael G. Smith goes on to analyze Rowland's achievements in building design and as a leader of Detroit's architectural community throughout both World Wars and the Great Depression. The interdependence of architecture with the city's fluctuating economic prosperity and population growth is explored, illuminating the conditions for good architecture and the arts in general. The author identifies the influence of Jay Hambidge's "dynamic symmetry" in Rowland's work and how it allowed him to employ color as a modern replacement for traditional ornamentation, leading to the revolutionary design of the Union Trust (Guardian) Building, for which he receives nearly unanimous praise in national media. This book is concerned primarily with Rowland's influence on Detroit architecture, but spans beyond his work in Michigan to include the designer's broad reach from New York to Miami. A comprehensive appendix includes extensive lists of Rowland's publications, locations he had designed, and jobs taken on by his firm during his tenure.

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This concise, well-written anthology presents readers with a much-needed entry point to the background and events that culminated in the Detroit riots during the summer of 1967. They remain a bench mark in 20th-century urban history. Five sections provide a useful organization of a mixture of articles across disciplines in both chronological and topical order. In the first three sections, readers begin with the role of slavery and race relations from the mid-19th century to 1960, moving on to the buildup of tensions before the riot, finally concluding with accounts of the violence. The last two sections ask readers to confront the legacy, both short and long term, of the riot. Ultimately, readers need to ask this: to what degree has anything changed, if at all? A skillful blending of contributions by scholars, witnesses, and participants provide rich resources from a range of perspectives. In part, the need for such a collection rests with a concern that the Detroit of 1967 might be minimized or possibly forgotten. Resources such as this anthology will help both students and teachers reconstruct the times and places of that summer.

Ten stories mostly set in Michigan's northern lower peninsula, a landscape as gorgeous as it is severe. If at times the situations in these stories appear hopeless, the characters nonetheless, and even against seemingly impossible odds, dare to hope. These fictional individuals are so compassionately rendered that they can hardly help but be, in the hands of this writer, not only redeemed but made universal. The stories are written from multiple points of view and testify to Driscoll's range and understanding of human nature, and to how "the heart in conflict with itself" always defines the larger, more meaningful story. A high school pitching sensation loses his arm in a public school classroom during show and tell. A woman lives all of her ages in one day. A fourteen-year-old boy finds himself alone after midnight in a rowboat in the middle of the lake with his best friend's mother.

When thirteen-year-old Daniel Wolff first heard Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," it ignited a life-long interest in understanding the rock poet's anger. When he later discovered "Song to Woody," Dylan's tribute to his hero, Woody Guthrie, Wolff believed he'd uncovered one source of Dylan's rage. Sifting through Guthrie's recordings, Wolff found "1913 Massacre"--A song which told the story of a union Christmas party during a strike in Calumet, Michigan, in 1913 that ended in horrific tragedy. Followingthe trail from Dylan to Guthrie to an event that claimed the lives of seventy-four men, women, and children a century ago, Wolff found himself tracing the history of an anger that has been passed down for decades. From America's early industrialized days,an epic battle to determine the country's direction has been waged, pitting bosses against workers and big business against the labor movement. In Guthrie's eyes, the owners ultimately won; the 1913 Michigan tragedy was just one example of a larger losthistory purposely distorted and buried in time. In this cultural study, Wolff braids three disparate strands -- Calumet, Guthrie, and Dylan -- together to create a revisionist history of twentieth-century America. Grown-Up Anger chronicles the struggles between the haves and have-nots, the impact changing labor relations had on industrial America, and the way two musicians used their fury to illuminate economic injustice and inspire change.

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A dual biography of the highly successful Kellogg brothers, who "fought, litigated, and plotted against one another with a passion more akin to grand opera than the kinship of brothers."One brother invented Corn Flakes, and the other was the most famous doctor of his time. They hated each other. Readers who suspect their lives might provide entertainment will not be disappointed by this delightful biography by Markel (History of Medicine/Univ. of Michigan; An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine, 2011, etc.). In 1876, physician John Harvey Kellogg (1853-1943) took charge of a small Battle Creek sanitarium that followed Seventh-Day Adventist principles of vegetarianism and abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. A charismatic promoter and author, he vastly expanded the sanitarium and became a world-famous media doctor. His advice represented a vast improvement over 19th-century practices of infrequent bathing, excessive use of alcohol, and a diet heavy on meat, fat, and sugar. He was prescient in advocating exercise, clean water, stress reduction, and plenty of sleep but also relentless enemas, as little sex as possible, and absolutely no masturbation. No businessman, John hired his brother Will Keith Kellogg (1860-1951) to manage the enterprise, rewarding his efficiency with low pay and no respect. It was only in 1906 that 46-year-old Will escaped, launched the Kellogg Company, and made a fortune. John responded with more than a decade of lawsuits and a lifetime of sniping. Markel refreshingly resists the temptation not resisted by films and novels to deliver caricatures. Embracing scientific medicine, John was a skilled, respected surgeon who was charitable and uninterested in riches. Will was a brilliant entrepreneur, a considerate boss, and founder of a world-class humanitarian foundation. The author effectively shows the brothers' "remarkable success was mutually dependent if not outright synergistic." A superb warts-and-all account of two men whose lives help illuminate the rise of health promotion and the modern food industry. 

Marlena : a novel by Julie Buntin

An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other's for decades. Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat's new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena's orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blond hair. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat cataloges a litany of firsts -- first drink, first cigarette, first kiss -- while Marlena's habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past. Alive with an urgent, unshakable tenderness, Julie Buntin's Marlena is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.

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At last, Helena Pelletier has the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her. Helena has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature-- fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father's odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too . . . until she learned precisely how savage a person he could be. More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn't know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence a manhunt, but Helena knows they don't stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King-- because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.

The Great Lakes create a vast transportation network that supports a massive shipping industry. In this volume, seamanship, cargo, competition, cooperation, technology, engineering, business, unions, government decisions, and international agreements all come together to create a story of unrivaled interest about the Great Lakes ships and the crews that sailed them in the twentieth century. This complex and multifaceted tale begins in iron and coal mines, with the movement of the raw ingredients of industrial America across docks into ever larger ships using increasingly complicated tools and technology. The shipping industry was an expensive challenge, as it required huge investments of capital, caused bitter labor disputes, and needed direct government intervention to literally remake the lakes to accommodate the ships. It also demanded one of the most integrated international systems of regulation and navigation in the world to sail a ship from Duluth to upstate New York. Sailing into History describes the fascinating history of a century of achievements and setbacks, unimagined change mixed with surprising stability.

This is the story of a small band of determined townspeople and how far they went to save beloved land and endangered species from the grip of a powerful corporation. Saving Arcadia is a narrative with roots as deep as the trees the community is trying to save; something set in motion before the author was even born. And yet, Shumaker gives a human face to the changing nature of land conservation in the twenty-first century. Throughout this chronicle we meet people like Elaine, a nineteen-year-old farm wife; Dori, a lakeside innkeeper; and Glen, the director of the local land trust. Together with hundreds of others they cross cultural barriers and learn to help one another in an effort to win back the six-thousand-acre landscape taken over by Consumers Power that is now facing grave devastation. The result is a triumph of community that includes working farms, local businesses, summer visitors, year-round residents, and a network of land stewards..

More than 15 years after the release of the White Stripes's White Blood Cells, one of the most enduring songs from the album (and certainly the one best suited to becoming a children's book) gets a quirky adaptation. Blake, an animator who worked on Ren & Stimpy and a musician who performs as April March, uses photographic and hand-drawn elements to trace the friendship between two elfin children with dark skin and pointy ears (treble clefs are tucked into the girl's ears, bass clefs in the boy's). After the children "safely walk to school without a sound," Blake draws them superimposed on a b&w photograph of the Long Island schoolhouse where Walt Whitman taught ("Numbers, letters, learn to spell/ nouns, and books, and show and tell"). Fans will appreciate how the White Stripes' aesthetic is represented by the book's red, white, and black palette, and Blake includes appealing retro flourishes throughout, including a Tenniel White Rabbit, a Betty Boop pocket watch, and a drawing style that evokes early Disney cartoons.

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Capturing baseball and its relationship to society in the 1960s on and off the field through the experiences of two teams and their two star pitchers.The year 1968 represented the apex of a decade in which pitchers asserted dominance over hitters in Major League Baseball. In that epochal year, two men were ascendant in what was still America's pastime. Bob Gibson (b. 1935) was the taciturn, intimidating African-American ace for the St. Louis Cardinals. Denny McLain (b. 1944) was the swaggering, self-involved white No. 1 pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. The two led their teams to pennants and a clash in that year's World Series. The Cardinals were the defending champions, while the Tigers were desperate to reach a level that had recently eluded them. New York Times "Male Animal" columnist Pappu tells this story, but he explores so much more than the battle between two pitchers and their teams. The author is clearly building toward 1968 from the beginning, but in reality, that year was the culmination of longer trends, and Gibson, McLain, and the teams represent a lens through which to view baseball in the 1960s more broadly. Refreshingly, Pappu rejects clichs about baseball saving a struggling Detroit or baseball somehow bringing America together. Instead, the sport tended to follow society more than leading it. Furthermore, despite the subtitle, Pappu does not present a "golden age" narrative. If anything, he rejects such romantic thinking. While Detroit emerged as the winner of the 1968 World Series, it hardly brought a city together beyond the fleeting celebrations that any championship brings. Pappu is especially insightful in his discussions of issues of race that pervaded baseball and American society. While he follows a generally chronological narrative, many of the chapters address themes that require him to go backward and forward in time in ways that both muddle the narrative and occasionally lead him to repeat key facts and arguments. But those are minor quibbles in a solid book. A fine history of a vital period in the history of not only baseball, but America. 

Zingerman's Bakehouse by Amy Emberling
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This is the must-have baking book for bakers of all skill levels. Since 1992, Michigan's renowned artisanal bakery, Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, has fed a fan base across the United States and beyond with their chewy-sweet brownies and gingersnaps, famous sour cream coffee cake, and fragrant loaves of Jewish rye, challah, and sourdough. It's no wonder Zingerman's is a cultural and culinary institution. Now, for the first time, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Zingerman's bakers share 65 meticulously tested, carefully detailed recipes in a book featuring more than 50 photographs and bountiful illustrations. Behind-the-scenes stories of the business enrich this collection of best-of-kind, delicious recipes for every "I can't believe I get to make this at home!"