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A bold and candid look at those who have dared break company with the conventional, the traditional, and stand for values and causes only later

embraced by the rest of us, who have learned to be far more cautious,

if not fearfula book about heroism,



Marching to a Different Drummer

Unrecognized Heroes of American History

By Robin Kadison Berson



Profiling 35 reformers and activists prominent in American history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, the author says her work is "a celebration of the maladjustment that has, small increments at a time, moved American society closer to the ideals we are proud to profess." Many of these individuals are familiar only to students of the discipline. They include such figures as Sara Josephine Baker, George Washington Cable, Florence Kelley, and Rose Schneiderman. Berson says her selection of subjects was based "not on material success or achievements (of the subjects), but on the breadth and quality of the vision that animated these lives."

To emphasize the scope and balance of her selection of reformers, the book begins with four subject lists: social reformers by date of birth, by gender, by ethnicity, and by major focus of activity. The gender breakdown includes 20 women and 16 men, while in terms of ethnicity, the book includes eight African Americans, two Asian Americans, two Native Americans, two Hispanics, and 23 European Americans. The major focuses include six abolitionists, 20 civil or minority rights activists, nine labor rights activists, seven social reformers, nine women's rights activists, and 11 "freedom of conscience" activists. Some of the reformers appear in more than one category.

The profiles are arranged alphabetically by surname (William Apess to Minoru Yasui). The birth and death dates for each activist are given, as well as a brief abstract summarizing the significance of the reformer's life and activities. A photo or illustration of each individual follows. A lengthy essay puts the reformer's life in perspective, discusses and analyzes his or her activities and puts them in the context of the times, and assesses the individual's place in American history. The essays are followed by a list of references used by the author in compiling the profile. Marching to a Different Drummer will be a valuable addition to academic, public, and high school libraries interested in building their resources on some of the unsung heroes of American history.Booklist

A collection of some 35 biographical profiles of little known heroes and heroines of American history from across the ethnic spectrum. Each profile integrates the individual's life with an explanation of the historical context, and includes excerpts from speeches, writings, and interviews, with bibliographical references. Includes b&w photos. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Book News, Inc.


Marching to a Different Drummer will be a valuable addition to academic, public, and high school libraries interested in building their resources on some of the unsung heroes of American history.Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

A bold and candid look at those who have dared break company with the conventional, the traditional, and stand for values and causes only later embraced by the rest of us, who have learned to be far more cautious, if not fearful--a book about heroism, really: its many aspects.
Robert Coles, Harvard University

Robin Berson has rounded up dozens of dissenters, mavericks, and reformers from mostly obscure sources to give us this immensely readable collection of profiles. Her book will help many to live better lives than they thought possible.
Milton Meltzer, Award-winning author of over 70 books on social reform

These 35 little known heroes and heroines of American history from across the ethnic spectrum have been virtually ignored in traditional history books. Their inspiring, biographical profiles reveal the struggle, in the face of entrenched opposition, for a just, equitable, and humane society. They spoke for racial and social justice, women's rights, safe working conditions, and freedom of conscience and religion. More than half of the profiles are of women, one fourth are of African-Americans, and Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latino and Chicano Americans are also represented. Each profile integrates the individual life with a detailed explanation of the historical context, and each entry provides excerpts from primary sources--speeches, writings, and interviews--and is followed by broad bibliographical references.

An alternative perspective on American history for students is offered in this work. The 35 men and women profiled here all defied the social and moral conventions of their times, frequently facing opposition and condemnation. Their voices were often stilled, muted, or lost, but their ethically grounded courage, their clarity of vision, and their willingness to stand up to injustice provide role models for Americans of all ages. One third of these people cannot be found in standard biographical references and others have never before been the focus of biographical sketches. Subject lists by chronology, gender, ethnicity, and focus of the biographee's concern will enable the student to select an appropriate subject for investigation and reports.

Berson has added breadth and depth to the underdeveloped corpus of biography on American reformers.
Wilson Library Bulletin

You will probably recognize only a few of the 35 names whose biographical sketches appear in these pages, but that's the idea. Berson devotes this interesting volume to the achievements of persons she calls dedicated deviants. She includes contributors to such areas as infant care, racism and segregation, sweatshop labor, and freedom of conscience. It is wholesome for young people to learn that persons of both sexes, from groups often ignored when credit is given--persons nobody has heard of--have made important contributions. Highly Recommended.
The Book Report

"This collection of brief studies of 35 individuals demonstrates how heroes and heroines come in many sizes--often unrecognized by themselves and by others--and should be remembered for their accomplishments. Berson gives brief but full studies of the individuals, of the social setting, and of the way these "dedicated deviants," as she calls them, marched to their own drum-beat through life."
IBJournal of Popular Culture


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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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