Archive for August, 2013

Take Ten: The Gilded Age

Take a break from your labors this Labor Day Weekend and get a glimpse of life on the other side of the street, historically. The books below all describe what life was like during the “Gilded Age” – the time period that covers the late 1800s through the turn of the 20th Century. The term was coined by Mark Twain to describe the superficiality of the wealth that seemed to cover deeper social problems. It was a time of success and excess – which still has ramifications in American society today. Read more about the names, institutions, and ideas that resonate even now.

Banquet at Delmonico’s: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America – Barry Werth

  • Draws readers inside the circle of philosophers, scientists, politicians, businessmen, clergymen, and scholars who brought Charles Darwin’s controversial ideas to America in the crucial years after the Civil War. Prominent among these men were the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, and political reformer Carl Schurz.


A Disposition To Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor’s Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States – Geoffrey C. Ward

  • Documents the story of Gilded Age con artist Ferdinand Ward, recounting how his large-scale pyramid operation and other sensational schemes triggered one of the greatest financial scandals in American history.


Edith Wharton – Hermione Lee

  • A critical biography of one of America’s greatest writers describes Wharton’s adventure-filled travels in Europe, the literary and artistic circles in which she lived and worked, her heroism during World War I, and the evolution of her writing.


First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt – T.J. Stiles

  • A biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism, documenting how Vanderbilt helped launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation.


Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and Their World – Hugh Brewster

  • Presents an account of the experiences of the historical ship’s wealthy and famous passengers and their world, drawing on original research to place their lives within an arc of the Titanic’s dramatic demise, explaining how their stories reflect key tenets of the Edwardian era.


Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt – Edward P. Kohn

  • Shows how Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s hopes for the presidency began to flag amidst the abhorrent heat of 1896 New York just as police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt scrambled to mitigate the dangerously high temperatures.


Love Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance – Jean Zimmerman

  • Documents the Gilded Age love story of an heiress who fought for women’s rights and an architect, tracing their upbringings, their pursuits, and their advocacy efforts on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised.


Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe & Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age – Cait Murphy

  • This true story of the most colorful and notorious law firm in American history offers an inside look at crime and punishment in the nineteenth century, and a whirlwind tour of New York’s Gilded Age


Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America’s Gilded Age – Mosette Broderick

Traces the story of the Gilded Age architectural firm, describing its partners’ shared vision about the role of architecture in shaping America and establishing an architectural practice that would set an international standard.


When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age – Justin Kaplan

  • Traces the lives of cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV, rivals who pursued separate ambitions, built the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and influenced social behavior before John Jacob perished aboard the Titanic.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus. Log in to NoveList Plus using your Library card.

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1961

Summer’s almost over, so let’s relive it just a little by looking back…. 53 years. In 1961, JFK was still alive, no one had heard of the Beatles (yet), and West Side Story ruled the box office (and Oscar race). Other events you may remember include:

  • The SL-1 at the National Reactor Testing Station near Idaho Falls explodes, killing its three operators (January).
  • Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to orbit in space (April).
  • Construction started on the Berlin Wall (August).

Get a feel for the cultural mood of the country by reading one of these books, New York Times Best Sellers from the week of August 20, 1961:



1. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3. Mila 18 by Leon Uris

4. The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor

5. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

6. The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins

7. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

8. Rembrandt by Gladys Schmitt

9. A Journey to Matecumbe by Robert Lewis Taylor

10. China Court by Rumer Godden

11. A Shooting Star by Wallace Stegner

12. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

13. Mothers and Daughters by Evan Hunter

14. Hawaii by James Michener

15. The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart

16. The Chateau by William Maxwell



1. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

2. A Nation of Sheep by William J. Lederer

3. The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White

4. Inside Europe Today by John Gunther

5. The New English Bible; New Testament

6. Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell

7. Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin by George F. Kennan

8. Life With Women and How to Survive It by Joseph H. Peck

9. My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House by Lilian Rogers Parks

10. Firsthand Report by Sherman Adams

11. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall by Gayelord Hauser

12. America — Too Young To Die! by Alex P. De Seversky

13. Lizzie Borden by Edward D. Radin

14. These Ruins Are Inhabited by Muriel Beadle

15. Gifts of Passage by Santha Rama Rau

16. The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas


Great Online Resource – Freegal

If you’re into music (and really, who isn’t?), then you’ll love the newest offering from Twin Falls Public Library. We’ve purchased a subscription to Freegal, a service that offers TFPL cardholders 3 MP3 downloads each week – at no direct cost – via the Library website. Freegal is part of Library Aware, which offers access to over 3 million songs including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists.

Go to our website,, and then click on “Get e-Audio.” Then, just click on “Freegal” and enter your Library Card # and your PIN (which should be the last four digits of your phone number). Happy searching!

R is for Railway

Monet’s “Le Gare Saint Lazare”

Maybe it’s a remnant of our Wild West, frontier heritage, but I’ve always thought rail travel was fascinatingly romantic. And, unlike those in big cities, my idea of traveling with strangers in an enclosed place isn’t colored by the trials of the subway. Currently, I’m reading the newest Alexander McCall Smith novella, Trains and Lovers, which made me curious about other novels with significant action taking place in a railcar. There are several mysteries – primary among them Agatha Christie’s classic closed room case – but I was surprised not to see a greater number of other types of novels. Maybe reading one of these will inspire someone to write more about journeys by rail. Until then, “All Aboard!”


Andean Express – Juan de Recacoechea

  • Richardo finds himself involved in the revenge and murder plots of the passengers on board a train going from Bolivia to Chile, including a fellow student married to an older man she detests.


Breakheart Pass – MacLean

  • After the Civil War, an army relief train takes supplies to an Indian fort, and its passengers suffer mysterious accidents.


The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

  • Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend.


Dream Train – Charlotte Vale Allen

  • In accepting an assignment to ride the Orient Express and spend five days in Venice, photojournalist Joanna James begins a dramatic journey in which lasting friendships are made, hearts are broken, and love is found.


The Edge – Dick Francis

  • Tor Kelsey, an undercover security operative for the British Jockey Club, is assigned to protect guests on “The Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train,” individuals whose safety is imperiled by real-life murder and mayhem.


The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes – Tess Uriza Holthe

  • Set against the backdrop of the French Riviera and Italy, a collection of interconnected stories follows group of characters whose lives are linked by the 5:45 train to Cannes.


Ladies Coupe – Anita Nair

  • During a journey Akhila shares a sleeping car, the Ladies’ Coupe, with other women, and as they recount their life stories, she wonders whether her own life as a single woman has been complete.


Murder Express – Robert Scott

  • On his honeymoon trip aboard a cross-country train from Vancouver to Calgary, former police officer Jack Elton and his new bride, Valerie, investigate into the death of a passenger whose body was found in the bathroom.


Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

  • On a three-day journey through the snowbound Balkan hills, Hercule Poirot must weed through an array of international suspects to find the passenger who murdered a gangster on the Orient Express.


The Mystery of the Blue Train – Agatha Christie

  • When Miss Katherine Grey unexpectedly inherits a small fortune, she books the famous Blue Train for a trip to the French Riviera. But Nice is not so nice, for on arrival the gendarmerie asks Miss Grey to ID the strangled body of one of the pampered passengers–and for the great Hercule Poirot’s help in solving the crime.


The Necropolis Railway – Andrew Martin

  • Moving to London in 1903 in his endeavor to become a railway man, ambitious young Jim Stringer takes a graveyard shift moving coffins to cemeteries outside of the city and struggles with his predecessor’s untimely disappearance and his co-worker’s unsettling animosity.


Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse – Robert Knott

  • Territorial Marshalls Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are escorting a group of Mexican prisoners on a train trip to the border only to find the journey complicated by the Governor of Texas and a vengeful outlaw from Virgil’s past.


Stamboul Train – Graham Greene

  • A variety of passengers, including a chorus girl, a journalist, and a kindly doctor, on a train from Ostend to Constantinople become involved with the sly murderer, Josef Grunlich.


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – John Godey

  • Four ruthless gunmen hold a speeding New York subway train hostage for a hefty ransom, threatening to kill all the passengers on board.


Trains and Lovers – Alexander McCall Smith

  • Inspired by a love of trains and the nature of love, a series of intertwined romantic tales follows the experiences of four strangers traveling from Edinburgh to London who entertain each other with reminiscences about how trains have changed their lives.


Travels with My Aunt – Graham Greene

  • Henry Pulling, a retired manager, volunteers to accompany his aunt on a trip to Istanbul and soon becomes involved with an ill-assorted group of travelers on the Orient Express.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus, one of the TFPL eResources. Log in to NoveList Plus with your Library card.

Thanks for Participating in Summer Reading!

Summer Reading 2013 is over (but that’s not an excuse/reason/justification for not finishing your current book). We had a great response this year, with more than 450 entries. Next year, our challenge is for more than 500!

And, although we all benefited from the experience, a handful of winners were even luckier. Here’s a list of all our prize winners for Adult Summer Reading 2013. (Special thanks goes to Kiwi Loco for donating gift cards as prizes.)


Grand Prize (Amazon Kindle)



Weekly Prizes (T-Shirt and Tote)





Week 5 – PAM RAHE





Headline Contest ($5 Kiwi Loco)






Thanks again to all who participated. Summer Reading can be a challenge and we’re glad you took it on. See you next year!