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Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

Out of Wisconsin

New Books on the Badger State

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With its diverse geography and history, Wisconsin is a fertile topic for writers. Anyone with an interest in the Badger State’s people and culture will find plenty of new titles this season.

The Quiet Season: Remembering Country Winters (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Jerry Apps.

Growing up on a Wisconsin farm during the 1940s, Jerry Apps learned to appreciate winter as the time when the rhythms of life slowed to a comfortable pace. A snow day could last many days; country folk looked after each other in those years, brought together by the dangers of storm and isolation.

One Small Farm: Photographs of a Wisconsin Way of Life (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Craig Schreiner

Although separated by decades, Apps’ experiences are similar to the contemporary way of life on Whistling Pines Farm near Pine Bluff, visited for two years by photojournalist Craig Schreiner. One Small Farm records the sunrise-sunset rhythms—the unending cycle of milking, feeding, cleaning, planting and hoeing—performed by uncomplaining people whose aspirations are to make a living from the land.

Wisconsin Talk: Linguistic Diversity in the Badger State (University of Wisconsin Press), edited by Thomas Purnell, Eric Raimy and Joseph Salmons

To the editors of Wisconsin Talk—none of them Badger natives but all teaching at UW-Madison—“listening to how different words sound here in Wisconsin shows how much history one can hear when a Wisconsinite opens their mouth.” In other words, immigrant languages from Polish and German to the more recent Hmong and Spanish have influenced the pronunciation of “Wisconsin English,” which the editors regard as a regional dialect every diphthong as distinct as Boston English.

The Education of an Anti-Imperialist: Robert La Follette and U.S. Expansion (University of Wisconsin Press), by Richard Drake

Robert La Follette is remembered in the Badger State as a reformer with a vision, but on the national stage he was known as a courageous opponent of America's entry into World War I and the peace that followed. In The Education of an Anti-Imperialist, University of Montana history professor Richard Drake investigates the inspiration behind La Follette's shift from conservative to progressive, starting with the 1890s Depression and stimulated by his readings in economics and history.
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