Archive for March, 2012

Civil War Sesquicentennial – War on the Seas

The USS Monitor showing some of the damage inflicted by the Merrimac after their famous ironclad battle in 1862.

When we think of Civil War battles, most of us probably think of the bloodbaths on land – Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam. But the war was also being fought on the sea. With the Union blockade, the development of the Confederate’s submarine, and the epic battle of the ironclads, history buffs wanting to know more about the War Between the States would do good to catch up on the naval side of things.

Listed here are a few books and resources that highlight this lesser-known aspect of the Civil War.



Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History – Craig L. Symonds

Gunfire Around the Gulf: The Last Major Naval Campaigns of the Civil War – Jack D. Coombe

The H.L. Hunley: The Secret Hope of the Confederacy – Tom Chaffin

The Last Shot: The Incredible Story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah and the True Conclusion of the American Civil War – Lynn Schooler

Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War – Craig L. Symonds

The Lost Fleet: A Yankee Whaler’s Struggle Against the Confederate Navy and Arctic Disaster – Marc L. Songini

Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine – Brian Hicks

Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack – James L. Nelson

Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah – Tom Chaffin

Thunder Along the Mississippi: The River Battles that Split the Confederacy – Jack D. Coombe

Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama – Stephen R. Fox



A Country of Our Own: A Novel of the Civil War at Sea – David Poyer

Fire on the Waters: A Novel of the Civil War at Sea – David Poyer

Southern Seahawk: A Novel of the Civil War at Sea – Randall S. Peffer

That Anvil of Our Souls: A Novel of the Monitor and the Merrimack – David Poyer

Thieves of Mercy: A Novel of the Civil War at Sea – James L. Nelson



Mariners” Museum: Battle of Hampton Roads

Navy Department Library: Overviews of Naval History (Civil War)

U.S. Navy: Naval History and Heritage: Civil War

A Good Book You May Have Missed, Part 2

Today’s recommendation is a more contemporary novel that I fell in love with a couple of years ago.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa is a short and sweet, slice of literature. The Professor is a brilliant mathematician, who, after an accident, has suffered damage to his brain. Consequently, he is only able to retain his short-term memory for 80 minutes. After that, things must be re-explained to him.

His new Housekeeper, a woman with a small son, shows us what life is like for him. They communicate best through math; he even nicknames her son, Root. Through seemingly irrelevant numbers and statistics (of course, the Professor loves baseball, the sport statistics’ gold mine), they form a bond that begins to pierce through his memory loss.

This book is ultimately about the characters, which is always a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. The three main characters are lovingly and realistically portrayed, and even in such a short work, they are three-dimensional. The other character of the story is math, which surprisingly, isn’t dull and adds another depth to the story. I found myself – an admitted math-hater – actually enjoying the way the Professor, the Housekeeper, and Root all connect through numbers and equations.

A heartwarming, sweet story!

Or, check out another novel by Ogawa: Hotel Iris



Let’s Talk About It!

The LET’S TALK ABOUT IT series is back!


     This season, we’re honored to present the popular reading and discussion series in conjunction with the Smithsonian Exhibit, titled “The Way We Worked”, brought into the area by the Magic Valley Arts Council.

     Stop by the Reference Desk and pick up a set of the five books in the series, WORKING: MAKING A LIVING, MAKING A LIFE. The books will be discussed every third Wednesday, starting next week (March 7), at 6:30 PM.  You don’t have to be a TFPL cardholder to participate; everyone is welcome!

Here’s the schedule (you can get it and more information on our website):


March 7 – Growing Up by Russell Baker (with guest speaker, Shelley McEuen)

March 28 – The Professor’s House by Willa Cather (with guest speaker, Clark Draney)

April 18 – The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder (with guest speaker, Steven Hall)

May 9 – Empire Falls by Richard Russo (with guest speaker, Susan Norton)

May 30 – Cliff Walk: A Memoir of a Job Lost and a Life Found by Don Snyder (with guest speaker, Steven Hall)


Let’s Talk About It is sponsored by the Idaho Commission for Libraries, the Idaho Humanities Council, and U.S. Bank.