An encyclopedic and immensely entertaining history of the Hudson Valley’s long otherworldly tradition.

MYSTERIOUS BEAUTY

LIVING WITH THE PARANORMAL IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

A history book offers a comprehensive survey of supernatural events in New York’s Hudson Valley.

This substantial work by Matthews takes a broad-spectrum look at the wide variety of paranormal stories that have come out of the Hudson Valley, an area of 7,200 square miles surrounding the Hudson River, extending over 315 miles from the outskirts of New York City to the Adirondacks. For thousands of years in that area, the author points out, “haunted structures, strange lights in the sky and mysterious creatures in the forests are almost taken for granted, or at least the stories are.” The region, bordered by “the Catskills in the west, the Taconic range to the east, the Shawangunks running up from the south and west, and the Adirondacks at the northern edge,” is thickly forested and gnarled with ancient rock formations. The land has been populated by humans for millennia, from the Lenape, Mohican, and “Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)” to the European settlers whose New World towns and industries are immortalized in the Hudson Valley stories of Washington Irving. Matthews sees Irving’s tales as “absolutely foundational in understanding how this region came to be seen, not only by the rest of the United States, indeed, perhaps the world, but also how residents of the Valley came to see themselves.” Consequently, the vivid and enjoyable stories gathered in these pages range far beyond Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and its Headless Horseman. Readers encounter inquisitive extraterrestrials, menacing little people of various kinds, ravenous Native spirits, and of course the king of cryptozoology, Bigfoot (“It was definitely not a bear,” reports one witness, “because of how it was walking”). Throughout all this, Matthews perfectly matches impressive research with a born fieldworker’s ear for the evocative personal interview. Nowhere in these accounts is there either condescension or credulity. Instead, each anecdotal thread is given the serious treatment that makes every chapter thrillingly involving.

An encyclopedic and immensely entertaining history of the Hudson Valley’s long otherworldly tradition.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-64237-794-1

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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