Category Archives: History

Carter Lake: A Slice of Iowa in Nebraska (Brief History) by John Schreier

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Carter LakeWhy is a small section of Iowa surrounded by Omaha, Nebraska? Imagine a person arrives at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, and as they drive into the city, they see a sign stating, “Welcome to Iowa.” As they continue down the road, they quickly see another sign, welcoming them to the city of Omaha, Nebraska. Confused? For many travelers, this is a problem many encounter. Carter Lake, Iowa is in this situation.

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With the Missouri River being the dividing line between Iowa and Nebraska, the land east of the river belongs to Iowa, west to Nebraska. What happens when the river changes its path moving east a mile? Years ago, Dr. Thomas Jefferis purchased thirty acres of swampy land near the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa along with other land parcels throughout the area.

However, in 1877, the Missouri River flooded. When the waters finally receded the pathway of the river had changed. Dr. Jefferis’ land was now west of the river with deposits of new land.

Who owns the land now? Who is the owner of the additional new land forced into place by the river? With a new crescent-shaped lake surrounding much of this land, this Cut-Off Island quickly became in dispute between the previous owner and the two neighboring states.

Carter Lake, formerly known as Cut-Off Island has a unique history while trying to alternately be independent while maintaining its relationship with its birth-state, Iowa. Being separated from Council Bluffs has caused a multitude of problems for this community. From schools for their children, police and fire protection, to taxation, and being a refuge for criminals, Carter Lake maintains its individuality while sometimes being assisted by its mother city, an eight-mile drive, Council Bluffs.

John Schreier, the author, bases his interest in Carter Lake from growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a double major in history and journalism. While managing editor of the Daily Nonpareil, he still finds time to contribute articles to Sports Illustrated, the Denver Post, and the Omaha World-Herald.

Carter Lake is a short book for anyone who enjoys history. What is unique about this book is that Carter Lake, while a small city, becomes a character fighting to maintain its individuality. Between bullied by Omaha at times and not being protected by either its big brother, Council Bluffs or its parent, Iowa, Schreier successfully demonstrates the success of this community in achieving their dreams.

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Pandemic“Cholera kills people fast. There’s no drawn-out sequence of progressive debility. The newly infected person feels fine at first. Then half a day passes, and cholera has drained his or her body of its fluids, leaving a withered blue corpse.”

Pandemic sounds like a science fiction thriller. Unfortunately, it can be all too realistic and could happen.


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How do we prevent it? One way would be to read Pandemic.

Most of us do not plan to be exposed or infected with cholera. What would you do if you were on an airplane from Haiti to Florida in 2013?

Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots by David Fisher

Reviewed by Allen Hott

legendsandliesThis is really a great rendering of the story of our country’s battle to be a free nation and not part of England. The book tells about many of the people who participated in this great episode. Although it attributes some of the quotes that have become synonymous with these Patriots, it does point out that many of them may not necessarily be completely true and accurate.

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It seems somewhat hard to envision today how this country was divided at the time of the Revolution. Many Loyalists were very definitely in favor of staying under the wing of England but a major turning point for many happened when the British passed the Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty were formed to fight against this act with all of their might.

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself
by Christopher E. Pelloski, MD

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Trauma, Shame and the Power of LoveAlthough sexual abuse and pornography of children is nothing new within this society, each time it is discovered and reported there is an accompanying knee jerk reaction of anger, disgust and distrust that follows so much so that it becomes hard to see the many facets of the whole truth about the situation such was the case with Christopher E. Pelloski M.D. In his book, Trauma, Shame and the Power of Love, which is a biographical work, he bares his soul and shares his experiences from arrest to trial as a non-productive participant of child pornography.

Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell

Waterloo

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Two-hundred years ago in the year 1815, Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

With history usually being written by the victors, this famous battle of the French against the combined forces of Prussia and Great Britain has been told from various perspectives throughout the years. Three armies with three battles over four days ended Napoleon’s rule over much of Europe. So why write another book about Waterloo?

Historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell decided that none of these accounts truly reflected the actual battle. In his first non-fiction book, Cornwell breaks this battle down into chapters with accompanying maps detailing the placement and actions of the troops as well as artistic paintings of the events, explaining both in a readable version for the non-historians and military strategists demonstrating that sometimes the portraits painted years after the events were flawed.

The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill: Forts, Fights & Other Sites by Jeff Barnes

Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Imagine a book that explains real and present day historical tourist sites and the significance of each place in reference to one person’s life from their birth to their death recording the memorable events along the way. For the legendary, William Cody who was known as Buffalo Bill, that is exact; Jeff Barnes created in The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill.

Barnes combines a well-balanced biography of Buffalo Bill filtering the legend from the facts. Additionally he uses photographs and maps as he personally visited each of these sites throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Missouri. With each one, he tells the story while also giving current information such as directions, significance, costs involved, and even the hours and days when open and a listing of additional research for the reader about each place.

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington by Jonathan Horn

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington

Reviewed by Allen Hott

For those of you who have any interest in our country and leaders from our beginning through the Civil War this is truly an interesting read.

Many of us I am sure are not aware of the fact that Robert E. Lee, who became the military leader of the Southern armies in that Civil War, was in fact married to the daughter of George Washington’s adopted son.

There are many relationships between the Lees and our early leaders perhaps because there were so many Lees. Two of them signed the Declaration of Independence and Robert’s own father had been one of Washington’s top aides during the revolution.

Why Marx Was Wrong by Lawrence Eubank

Why Marx Was Wrong

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Why Marx Was Wrong by Lawrence Eubank is a scholarly and erudite examination and refutation of Karl Marx’s book, which was highly critical of Capitalism, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. The 500 pages of Eubank’s book is intended to serve as a convincing argument pointing out the inaccuracies in Marx’s reasoning and his central accusation that capitalism serves to make capitalists richer by the “exploitation of laborers, through the extraction of unpaid ‘surplus value’ from them.” That is exactly what Why Marx Was Wrong does, refuting Marx’s central argument thoroughly.

In order to refute Karl Marx’s argument completely and point out the philosophical rot inherent in it, Lawrence Eubank takes a look at many of Marx’s statements in his own work and explains why each of them are wrong. To help back up his point-by-point refutation of Marx, Eubank cites other authors who have a similar, pro-capitalist, perspective.

Pepper by Marjorie Shaffer

PepperReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Majorie Shaffer’s book Pepper has much to offer readers. For foodies the lure of this book is obvious. Pepper is after all, one of the leading spices used across virtually all cuisines. But there are other groups of readers who will be equally interested in Pepper. For history buffs, there is a chance to travel with the Portuguese followed quickly by the the Dutch and the English and finally the Americans, along the spice trade routes. And with more people embracing the current trend of turning to natural remedies for everything from health ailments to pesticides, Pepper again answers the call. Botanists surely will find the history of propagation attempts of the piper family of plants to which our beloved pepper belongs, interesting reading. Lastly, armchair travelers will find Pepper to be worthy of their time offering up such things as elephant fights staged for entertainment.

The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold by Edmund Contoski

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

With the economic uncertainties in the world today, should America return to the gold standard? This controversial topic is the driving theme behind author Edmund Contoski’s book The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold. Edmund, who has 45 years of experience in international markets and has conducted investment seminars in precious metals and foreign currencies, argues that “American politicians have debauched the currency for agendas contrary to our Constitution and to get themselves elected.” Whether you believe America should go back to the gold standard or not, most people would agree with the author’s statement that “governments are on the verge of bankruptcy because there is no restraint–which a gold standard would provide–on their spending and manipulation of credit.” Edmund Contoski has, with his book, made a topic I would ordinarily find dull and dry–namely, economics–one which is fascinating and interesting.

What are some of the points the author brings up to support his argument that the United States and the world should base the stability of their currency on their gold reserves? What’s happened to Greece is one of the best examples that the media and economists use to illustrate the worst that can befall a country which spends beyond its means and borrows to make up the difference. The U.S. has not yet suffered the same types of dire problems, but that’s because of the dollar’s status as a world reserve currency. This means it can pay its debts by simply printing more of its own money. However, even the U.S. cannot keep printing its own money forever without eventually its currency becoming devalued–it’s actually happening even now, to a degree.

Contoski writes in his very perceptive persuasive book how the world’s economic crisis began, how money was developed and how countries have ‘perverted” it, what the “credit bubble” is, how and why the euro arose, what some of the threats are to the world’s banking system, and much, much more, including the rise of China and India as major economic powers.