Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Things on my plate in '08 and books of '07

Happy new year! Among my resolutions: to thoroughly overhaul wwww.hartfordhistory.net and blog more regularly. On the latter score, I never got around last year to mentioning the publication of several books that deal in one way or another with city history. So I'll take the opportunity to list them here:

  • "The Hartford Whalers" is another addition to Arcadia Publishing's indispensable series, Images in History. This pictorial tribute to "The Whale," put together by Brian Codagnone, traces the team's history from its membership in the upstart World Hockey League to its absorbtion into the National Hockey League, which eventually allowed the team to move to -- ugh! -- North Carolina. Relive the fun and heartbreak.

  • "Victorian Hartford Revisited," another Arcadia photo book, is Tomas Nenortas's follow-up to his "Victorian Hartford," a compilation of postcards from Hartford's days as one of America's wealthiest and most beautiful cities. According to Arcadia, this volume contains "many never-before-published images."

  • "House of Good Hope: A Promise for a Broken City," tells the true story of five gifted Hartford boys who met as high school athletes and promised to stay in the city and work for its improvement. Intertwined with it is author Michael Downs' soul searching over whether to remain in Hartford, the scene of so much of his family's history. The book is published by the University of Nebraska Press.

  • "Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir" actually appeared at the end of 2005, but I can't resist plugging this amazing book, which has since been published in paperback. Author Mary-Ann Tirone Smith uses the 1953 murder of an 11-year-old classmate as a spur to explore her Hartford childhood, which included living with an autistic brother who could not bear many everyday sounds -- this in a time when autism was little recognized, let alone understood. Those nostalgic for the kinder, gentler Hartford of the 1950s will find lots of fodder here, but Smith also dissects the repressive mindset that led the adults around her to all but pretend the death of her friend never happened. Smith's experience as a mystery writer shows too, as she gives a riveting, step-by-step account of the movements that brought her friend into the path of her killer. This is an absolute page-turner.