What's Your Summer Reading?

ByEllen Tucker
On June 11, 2024

Summer鈥檚 here! Time to do that reading you put off during the school year. We asked teacher friends what they plan to read during the summer vacation. Most will delve into the complex and fascinating American story, reading books that will enrich their teaching for next year. If you are still looking for good reads, here are some ideas.

Some MAHG students and graduates of the program now have time to read books recommended by fellow students and professors. Tina Boudell will read by HW Brands, which chronicles the rapid industrialization of America in the latter half of the 19th century and , by Thomas Leonard. David Widenhofer will read  by Michael Holt. Professor Jeremy Bailey called it 鈥渢he definitive work on the Whigs,鈥 Widenhofer recalls, 鈥渁nd of course it will be loaded with lots of Henry Clay. Who needs another reason?鈥 he asks.

Jody Glass is reading Gilbert Kings鈥檚 Devil in the Grove, a riveting account of Thurgood Marshall鈥檚 experience defending four young black men in Groveland, Florida, falsely charged with rape. 鈥淎 friend from the MAHG program referred the book to me after many discussions on civil rights activism from Reconstruction to the modern Black Lives Matter movement we see today,鈥 she said.  

Several teachers are reading in preparation for summer teacher institutes. Both Kymberli Wregglesworth and Kelly Steffen will attend an , site of a World War II Japanese detention center. They are reading Shirley Higuchi鈥檚 and Sam Mihara鈥檚 ,听among other books. In preparation for the 2024 Alexander Lebenstein Teacher Education Institute in Richmond, VA, Amy Livingston is reading Doris Bergen鈥檚 .

Amber McMunn will attend an , the effort that brought northern college students to Mississippi to help register African Americans to vote. She is reading Bruce Watson’s听听and John Dittmer’s听 听Tyler Nice, who will be attending an institute on the Civil War and Reconstruction at the University of Virginia, is reading , by Gary Gallagher and Joan Waugh, and听, by Caroline Janney.

Many teachers will pursue answers to Civil War-related questions. Both Adena Barnette-Miller and Jason Berling are reading  by Erik Larson, an account of the early days of the Civil War. Barnette-Miller, who now teaches a college course on West Virginia history, will also read by Brent Tarter, which tells the story of George Berlin, delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861 (which triggered the events leading to West Virginia statehood).  Berlin began as an outspoken opponent of secession yet ultimately voted in favor of it. George Hawkins will read by Bruce Levine, along with Henry Louis Gates, Jr鈥檚 collection of .

Greg Balan has been working toward a PhD at Liberty University. For a course on 鈥淭he Development of Western Freedoms,鈥 he鈥檚 reading Daniel Hannan鈥檚  and Eicholz鈥檚 , two books that he says attempt to define 鈥渢he West鈥 as a locus of political thought. Looking ahead to a dissertation on the origins of Southern pro-slavery arguments, he鈥檒l be reading by Keri Merritt and reading through the work of John C. Calhoun and James Henley Thornwell.

Great biographies, especially of presidents, always fascinate. Lucas George plans to read Ron Chernow鈥檚 biography of 鈥渢o enrich my classes with his Civil War experience鈥 and consider 鈥渉ow his legacy has changed over time.鈥 Brian Milliron will read byRichard Norton Smith.

Brett Van Gaasbeek plans to read , by Chris Matthews, which recounts the amical relationship between House Speaker Tip O鈥橬eil and President Reagan 鈥渄uring the 1980s, when it seemed that politics didn鈥檛 need to be so combative.鈥 Van Gaasbeek will also check out Stephen Knott鈥檚 , to see what this MAHG professor he admires really 鈥渒nows about the presidency.鈥

Speaking of books by beloved MAHG professors, Professor Marc Landy has co-authored with Dennis Hale a book that carefully considers criticisms of the US Constitution throughout our history yet finds good reasons to defend it: .

鈥淏order policies are a hot topic in the election year coming up,鈥 Robin Deck Davis notes, so she will be reading by Juan Gonzales. Spanning five centuries of Latino experience in the US, the book will enrich  her knowledge of American history as a whole.

With this year marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Milliron and Berling look forward to reading about the challenges faced by those who fought in World War II.听 Milliron will dig into , by Barrett Tillman. Berling plans to read C. S. Forrester鈥檚 , an historical novel about a battleship captain trying to protect a convoy of ships from German U-boats during an Atlantic crossing. Meanwhile, Miles Matthews plans a trip into some of America’s most enduring and revealing narrative myths: , published by the Library of America.

Both Nancie Lindblom and Anne Walker will read books exploring the influence of the Greek and Roman classics on the founders. Lindblom will read by Carl J. Richard; Walker will read by Jeffrey Rosen. Vince Bradburn intends to immerse himself in one of those classic texts the founders read, 笔濒补迟辞鈥檚 Republic. He also plans to read Henry David Thoreau鈥檚 Walden. 听鈥淚’ve chosen these two classics to revisit some essential questions on how best to organize society as well as order my individual life,鈥 Bradburn wrote.

Carrie Huber recommends that everyone read by Nick Estes. The book delves into the earlier 鈥渉istory of resistance for the Oceti Sakowin of the Upper Midwest. The discussion of dams on the Missouri River and dislocation of Native peoples was both heartbreaking and fascinating.鈥 Sonja Czarnecky will be slowly and carefully rereading a book she read quickly during her winter break:  by Ned Blackhawk. 鈥淒uring my graduate study I kept wondering how encounters between white colonials and native Americans shaped the founding era and the later development of the United States . . . .This book attempts to tell that story,鈥 she writes.

Even during summer, teachers continue thinking about their classrooms. Some look for insights into what is happening inside students鈥 heads. Berling will read  by Jonathan Haidt, which discusses the effects of cell phones, social media, and internet access on young people. Lindblom will read by Ron Ritchhart and Mark Church. The book elaborates a set of 鈥渢hinking routines鈥 that can be used across disciplines and age levels to reveal how students think, guide their learning, and deepen their understanding.

Happy reading to all!


The 80th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944


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