The lost chapter in the history of Iowa State and the University of Iowa is complete, and awaiting your discovery. Meet the men behind the campus landmarks, and read about the feud which shaped Iowa’s universities for generations.
Lately it feels like my life has been subsumed by overtly political concerns and activity. I look down the front page of this blog, and posting has been a bit more sparse than usual, but more significantly almost everything in recent weeks has been tagged “politics.”
It’s a presidential election year, and I’m reading too much about that. I don’t know if things were different decades ago, or if it’s more my personal feelings changing, but US presidential contests seem like they have become not only all-consuming but invariably near-apocalyptic. Good news, we seem more and more to have real choices; bad news, the nature of those choices combined with the growing power of the office make it difficult for me to say “oh it’s just politics” and turn back to “real life.”
I would probably be getting more actively involved already, if not for having already just about maxed-out my personal energies for Lakewood Hospital. After weeks of dithering, our city council has confirmed the November general election as the date for our referendum on their vote to close our community hospital. So, just under 35 weeks to go. 😐 Then I can (maybe) have my life back! Certainly I could use more in my life than slow, tiring and usually dispiriting campaign hack work. As I’m not sure what else that is at this point, though, I’m doing a little stock-taking.
First, I have completed the manuscript for a third book, and at some point in the next year will present to the reading public Hancher vs. Hilton: Iowa’s Rival University Presidents.
I have been thinking that I really ought to post something about my upcoming book, here, at some point. I already began building a mini-site a couple of weeks ago, but good form seems to call for some sort of formal announcement here on the main blog.
So: I have written another book, and it will be available this fall as Cotton’s Library: The Many Perils of Preserving History. Very, very briefly, this is the story of a proto-national-library founded four centuries ago by Sir Robert Cotton, and its long, (sometimes absurdly) difficult journey from a DIY project to a world-class institution worthy of its contents. (You can read more here.) I am proud to add that, barring any surprise announcements in the next few months, this will be the first book-length examination of this important collection’s whole, incredible history, ever.
Today seemed like the right day to make this announcement, meanwhile, for two reasons.
One, the planned release date for Cotton’s Library is exactly three months from now, on November 17. Which date was long celebrated in England as (the Tudor) Queen Elizabeth’s Accession Day, and is therefore a particularly fitting date to remember Sir Robert Cotton and his library, both of them being products of the Elizabethan era.
Two, this morning brought the first outside reaction to the complete, relatively polished draft text… and it was very, very good. The reviewer is, admittedly, an old college friend, but it’s been around a decade since we’ve had much contact, and I don’t believe she would hesitate to share a negative opinion. I valued her judgment as both an avid reader and a librarian; today I got it. She made several small critical suggestions which I expect no difficulty in implementing in the weeks ahead. Overall, though, she “thought the writing in this book much stronger than Brilliant Deduction,” which fwiw wasn’t exactly a dud. She offered “thanks for the read,” noting that “I feel smarter now.”
This feels very encouraging. I’ve done my best to produce a good book, and haven’t necessarily been haunted by doubt. But I still feel a bit like Bryan Talbot in his behind-the-scenes vignette from Alice in Sunderland, after the spirit of Scott McCloud offers the nascent project a thumbs-up. “Yes! This can work!” It’s going to work!
Also, my friend confided that “I LOLed at some of the jokes. :)” and… well. Ahem. Good writing, advancing understanding and appreciation of some unsung heroes of history (maybe even making a buck or two?), all of this is very good. But, y’know. Really, there’s no overestimating the importance of teh lulz.