Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Presidential Origins of Thanksgiving

When we think of Thanksgiving we often think of the pilgrims, cornucopias, turkeys, and pumpkin pie. Days of Thanks are celebrated in many nations throughout the world, including Canada (on the second Monday in October), Grenada (October 25th), and Liberia (November 1st).

The roots of these holidays are varying, but the heart of the day remains thankfulness for health and prosperity. In Grenada, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of a bloody battle and political upheaval. After a coup led to the assassination of Grenada's Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, American troops joined troops from Jamaica, Barbados, and the eastern Caribbean to intervene and restore order.

Here in the States, of course, Thanksgiving's roots are usually traced to a harvest feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. English emigres to the States brought with them a tradition of Thanksgiving feasts which carried on through the years and even transformed into larger Harvest Festivals.

Most Americans associate Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and Puritans of Plymouth, Massachusetts, but few realize what a significant impact the American Presidency has had on the holiday. Indeed, some of our nation's most celebrated president's have made Thanksgiving what it is today. In 1789, Congress passed a resolution regarding Thanksgiving, asking President George Washington to mark one day that year as a
 "day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." 
Washington set November 26, 1789 (a Thursday) for this day of thanks.

For Washington, Thanksgiving was clearly a day in which people thanked and celebrated God, and not each other, for the blessings in their lives. It was also a day to remember America's troubled history and the unifying force of its new government. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation, Washington thanked God for protecting the American people before and during the Revolutionary War, and for "render[ing] our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws...". Like the Pilgrims, Washington viewed Thanksgiving as a religious holiday, but his religious praise was steeped in political rhetoric and the language of a man leading a young nation.

Seventy-four years later, President Abraham Lincoln would establish the holiday we all know today, a yearly national holiday held on the last Thursday of November. Like Washington, Lincoln viewed Thanksgiving as a day to praise God for his many blessings in a time troubled by war. In his Proclamation of Thanksgiving, issued October 3, 1863, Lincoln thanked God for his "gracious gifts" of law and order, peace among nations, growing and continued industry, population growth, and an American people
"rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor...permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom."
 In other words, though the nation was as yet embroiled in a divisive and bloody war, God and the coming years held the promise of peace and prosperity. Lincoln asked the American people to thank and praise God for his blessings while remembering to "commend to His tender care" those harmed--directly or indirectly--by the Civil War.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would later (briefly) move Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of the month, reasoning that this move would boost sales (and the economy) by providing stores a few extra days between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in which to conduct business. This change was short-lived, however, as it proved unpopular with a nation used to its tradition and unhappy with an economically-based change to its beloved holiday. Roosevelt would restore the holiday to its traditional date in 1941.

Decades later, Thanksgiving is still celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Though for many it has lost its religious connotations, it remains for all a day of grateful appreciation for the blessings we've received throughout the year.

For more wise words from Washington and Lincoln, check out George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior, our series of the month Abraham Lincoln: A History (available individually, or as a set by contacting us directly), and Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Speech and Other Pages.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the Anniversary of JFK's Assassination

 "It has been half a century and so many lifetimes ago, yet the images from November 1963 remain haunting, blurred into our national consciousness." - Bob Schieffer of CBS News
On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. It is a day that brought Americans together in sorrow, and yet divided them in the years to come. The nation collectively mourned the loss of its charismatic and powerful leader, yet questioned reports about how the events of that day unfolded.

Half a century later, official reports detailing the events of that day are still questioned by conspiracy theorists and concerned citizens who believe there is more to the story than what they've been told. Whether they doubt the reason behind the shooting or whether accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, many Americans find themselves still unconvinced by what the Warren Commission and the Assassination Records Review Board have stated.

The events of this day have been affirmed and questioned alike throughout American media. Oliver Stone's polarizing film JFK affirmed conspiracy theorists, found itself largely maligned by critics, and yet it received Academy Awards. A recently-released thriller called Parkland--centered on the events at Parkland Memorial Hospital--validates official reports about Oswald. These fictionalized accounts of the assassination remain a stark reminder that our nation is still intrigued, confused, and divided by that day in Texas. These films also remind us that--despite having actual footage of the assassination itself--we still know little about how and why these events occurred. We are left to piece together eyewitness reports, like those of the doctors at Parkland, with the official reports of the Warren Commission, trying desperately to bring some semblance of understanding to this event. Yet however much information we collect this day remains, in many ways, entirely unknowable.

John F. Kennedy
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wishing reKiosk a Happy Anniversary

Today we congratulate the team at reKiosk on their anniversary!

We recently partnered with this unique "digital marketplace" to expand the digital reach of our titles. At reKiosk we are able to offer our titles in a variety of digital formats, making it easier for you to find a version of our books that's compatible with the many eReaders and other digital devices you use in your daily life.

We value our partnership with reKiosk because our mission statement goes hand in hand with theirs.
Our Mission is to create a smart and sustainable society by connecting people with valuable ideas; we offer authors and organizations full publishing support, while using the newest technologies to present their works in a timely and effective way.

As a publishing company, we seek to help independent authors, and reKiosk is using new technologies to help independent artists of all kinds. What's more, they have a similar goal at heart: to spread knowledge and ideas to the world. Like us, they believe in the power of the independent artist.

We're proud to partner with them, and we wish them another great year of innovation and inspiration!

Learn more about reKiosk at their homepage and blog. You can also follow them on Twitter @reKiosk or visit their Facebook page. Check out our storefront, which offers special discounts on particular titles each month.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gettysburg Address: 150 Years Later

"But the long story is that no single American utterance has had the staying power, or commanded the respect and reverence, accorded the Gettysburg Address. It has been engraved...translated...and analyzed in at least nine book-length critical studies over the last century." -- Allen C. Guelzo, "Lincoln's Sound Bite: Have Faith in Democracy"

We've been so busy we almost missed this important anniversary: the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address! At only 272 words, it's a rather short speech for a President, yet the Gettysburg Address remains one of the most well-known speeches in American Presidential history.

"Four score and seven years ago..." is an introduction we all know, yet how many Americans know the details that surround this speech? For example, that Lincoln's speech was not the only one given that day, as Edward Everett gave a much longer oration as well? It's a testament to Lincoln's powers as an orator and writer that school children do not learn word one of the two-hour speech Everett delivered.

In honor of this anniversary we provide some links to interesting and fun articles about the address:
  • "Lincoln's Sound Bite: Have Faith in Democracy," by Allen C. Guelzo. Here the author examines the reasons behind the Address' staying power in American history, detailing why it was--and is--considered a "landmark" speech.
  • This famous speech went through multiple drafts: you can compare the text of five known copies (including the most-often replicated 'Bliss Copy') here.
  • To commemorate the anniversary, special events were held on the fields of Gettysburg, including a reading of the Address by a Lincoln impersonator. Check out the video below for a vignette about what it's like being a Lincoln impersonator!

To learn more about the Gettysburg Address and other significant Lincoln works, check out Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Speech and Other Papers, our Series of the Month Abraham Lincoln: A History (in hardcover or paperback), or The Lincoln Year Book: Axioms and Aphorisms From the Great Emancipator, by Wallace Rice (paperback).

Spotlight on Darwin Gillett and Building Noble Corporate Enterprises

"...This book is about how to make a business far more successful by paying attention to the inner power of people and organizations catalyzed by working toward higher, more inspiring goals and working together in a spirit of unity and connection." - Darwin Gillett's Introduction to Noble Enterprise
Darwin Gillett in action
Since its publication in 2008, Darwin Gillett's Noble Enterprise: The Commonsense Guide to Uplifting People and Profits continues to inspire corporate entities to strengthen their organizations by focusing on human capital, harnessing (and nurturing) the human spirit to create vital and thriving businesses. This revolutionary work asks people to imagine a business model centered around a "new consciousness."

Gillett argues that people crave meaningful and rewarding work, and that customers desire to do business with people and organizations of higher ethics, thus "nobility" must be added to the business world and its strategies because nobility can attract and inspire people and drive "positive change and business performance." In other words, Noble Enterprise suggests that corporate entities can be both ethical and highly successful by awakening and activating the "rich array of human energy, wisdom, passion, and purpose" of those within their organization. Noble business strategies are, in short, a means to yield both monetary and spiritual returns.

Noble Enterprise has been embraced by academics and business strategists alike; it has been used in MBA courses and executive programs at Boston College, Fordham University, and Washington University of St. Louis, and remains a "Top Business Book" pick by business thought leader and consultant John Spence. Indeed, Spence's list of the "Top 50 Business Books of All-Time" was created at the behest of Spence's MIT students, and Spence has recently stated that Noble Business is in his personal Top 10 of business books, as it gets "to the heart and soul of what it takes to run a truly successful business in modern times," providing "actionable ideas to help the reader" create a business that "uplifts people, delights customers and creates sustainable profitability and success."

Gillett continues to inspire the integration of nobility into business strategy through his consulting business, publications, and speaking engagements. Gillett speaks to corporations and organizations about topics such as improving leadership, creating sustainable competitive advantage, managing human capital and socially-responsive businesses.
The Western business world is so Mind-centered and Action oriented, that it does not even see the Heart, steadily at work building and fueling great companies.
 Last year Mr. Gillett spoke at an international business conference on "Profits and Social Values: Closing the Gap," sponsored by Fundação Dom Cabral, a renowned Brazilian business school. This year Gillett published "The INVISIBLE HEART: Want Great Performance? Then Call Forth the Great Hidden Resource in Business - the Human Heart" in the school's management magazine. "The INVISIBLE HEART" details Gillett's discovery that when "heart" is integrated into business practices great results follow. The article also shows how businesses and individuals can integrate heart into their lives.

 Gillett is currently working with colleagues Ken Bardach, Bill Catucci, and Karen Jeisi to create a "Leadership Guidebook" for Noble Leaders. You can learn more about Noble Enterprise at the Noble Advisors website, where you can find information about Gillett's speaking engagements, Noble publications, and consulting. Noble Enterprise is available in paperback and for Kindle at Amazon & Barnes & Noble online.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NPR on the "Inconsistencies" that Haunt Us After JFK's Assassination

On November 10th, National Public Radio aired  "Inconsistencies Haunt Official Record Of Kennedy's Death." This feature, by Weekend Edition contributor Marcus D. Rosenbaum, concerns an investigation into President John F. Kennedy's assassination, as conducted by the Assassination Records Review Board.

This Board was established by Congress in 1992, a year after Oliver Stone's controversial film J.F.K. sparked renewed conversation about conspiracy theories and the findings of the Warren Commission, who determined that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald worked alone.

This fascinating report details the findings of Dr. T. Jeremy Gunn, who served as director of research and general counsel (and later as executive director) of the Assassination Records Review Board. As Rosenbaum notes at the conclusion of this piece, regardless of Gunn's findings (and indeed, perhaps because of them):
"Fifty years later, this case has still not been closed in the arena of public opinion."
Listen to the full interview here. For more on Kennedy's assassination, check out Trauma Room One, which provides first-hand accounts of the injuries Kennedy sustained, as reported by one of the doctors who attended him. This compelling work argues that Kennedy's injuries were sustained in a manner very different from official reports. It is available in hardcover and paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and is available for both your Nook and Kindle, as well as in numerous digital formats for eReaders and other digital devices via reKiosk.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oliver Stone Interviewed on the Assassination of JFK

Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone recently appeared on the Democracy Now! Global News Hour, discussing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Stone was joined by the show's host, Amy Goodman, and Peter Kuznick, a professor of history who co-wrote the companion to "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States," Stone's recent series for Showtime.

In this interview Stone takes a look at Kennedy's legacy and conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Stone has been--and remains--an avid believer that official reports of the assassination are incorrect. His fascination with the story led, of course, to his controversial film J.F.K., which opined that Kennedy's assassination was the result of a political conspiracy.

You can view the video below or read a full transcript of the interview here. (A note of warning that descriptions of President Kennedy's injuries are graphic.)

For more of Stone's thoughts on the Kennedy assassination--and for reports from one of the doctors who treated the President--check out Trauma Room One: The JFK Medical Coverup Exposed, by Charles A. Crenshaw and J. Gary Shaw, which features an introduction by Stone.

Trauma Room One is available in various digital formats at reKiosk and in both hardcover and paperback at Amazon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book of the Month: Trauma Room One

Our Book of the Month for November provides first-hand accounts of one of the worst moments in American history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Trauma Room One: The JFK Medical Coverup Exposed provides detailed accounts of what was witnessed in Parkland Memorial Hospital after John F. Kennedy arrived with gunshot wounds.  The book also features a compelling Foreword by director Oliver Stone.

Trauma Room One provides an eyewitness account by Dr. Charles Crenshaw, who provides compelling scientific evidence that official reports of the assassination do not match up with the physical evidence of the case. One of the many compelling claims that Crenshaw makes is that J.F.K.'s injuries were consistent with gunshots from the front, rather than the back. Many of Crenshaw's findings refute those of The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (also known as the "Warren Commission"), which determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) called JFK: Conspiracy of Silence, published in 1992 as a prior edition to Trauma Room One "a fabrication," but Crenshaw prevailed in a defamation suit against the Journal. Today the Warren Commission remains widely criticized for its investigative  methods, and a later investigation was undertaken in 1992 by the Assassination Records Review Board. The Board's complete findings are available here.

It is suggested that this investigation was a direct result of the release of Oliver Stone's controversial film J.F.K., which agreed with Crenshaw that Kennedy's injuries were inconsistent with the Commission's findings. Indeed, this much is noted in the Board's final report, which notes that:

"Stone suggested at the end of JFK that Americans could not trust official public conclusions when those conclusions had been made in secret. Congress passed legislation--the JFK Act--that released the secret records that prior investigations gathered and created."

Trauma Room One remains a significant historical document that continues to raise questions about Kennedy's assassination and the possibility of a conspiracy. Whether one agrees with the Warren Commission or Crenshaw's first-hand account, Trauma Room One remains a significant work, shining a light on one of the most tragic days in American history and causing debates over political transparency, government activities, and even the Presidency itself.

Trauma Room One is available in paperback and hardcover, as well as in various digital formats.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Series of the Month: Abraham Lincoln: A History

Abraham Lincoln remains a source of fascination and inspiration for writers and filmmakers even 148 years after his death. Just last year saw the release and critical acclaim for the film "Lincoln", directed by Steven Spielberg, which detailed Lincoln's efforts to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. Then of course, on the lighter side, came the film adaptation of the eponymous novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, written by Seth Grahame-Smith and directed by Timur Bekmambetov. This unusual film asked viewers to imagine a Lincoln who lived a secret second life as an ax-wielding hunter of vampires.

Of course, works like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter aren't based in fact, but a sense of enjoyment that comes from watching a well-known (and rather serious) historical figure do something completely ridiculous and otherworldly. (It's certainly fun to watch Lincoln don his ever-present top hat and slice into a vampire). 

The cover of the issue which detailed "Lincoln's fate"
Re-imaginings aside, it's only natural that Lincoln remains a constant in American pop culture production, as he continues to be one of the most significant and fascinating figures in American history. His impact on American history solidified his impact in its cultural creation, so it's only fitting that his story remains rife for the telling and of interest to viewers and readers. 

There are plenty of ways for those interested in Lincoln to indulge in their fascination, but one literary work remains a significant and necessary read for the most ardent Lincoln fan: the 1890 work Abraham Lincoln: A History. This ten-volume work was written by two of Lincoln's private secretaries: John Milton Hay and John George Nicolay. This comprehensive work originally appeared in fragments in The Century Magazine over a period of 4 years, upon which it was issued in the first edition now available in replica form, complete with original illustrations. As the work of two people who worked intimately with the President, A History provides an exceptionally detailed account of Lincoln's life, from his genealogical lineage, to his boyhood, early legislative work, opposition to slavery, and so on through his assassination. It remains one of the most thorough examinations of Lincoln's life and administration.

Abraham Lincoln: A History is available in beautiful hardcover or portable paperback, as a 10-volume set or by individual volume. [Full sets are available at a discount by contacting us directly.]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Classic of the Month: Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, Cordials and Liqueurs...

Gone are the days of bathtub gin, replaced instead by the recent craze of homebrewing your own beer. Indeed, the homebrewing trend has become particularly popular in recent years, leading to the sale of high-tech brewing gadgetry and even deluxe "Home Brew Kits" for sale online and at major retailers. It's easier than ever to brew beer in your own home. Of course, people have always concocted their own alcoholic beverages, whether they prefer red wine or a hoppy beer at the end of the day.

Old Time Recipes book cover
With a little research you'll find that you can brew not just your own beer, but also your own wines, brandies, ciders, and liqueurs, and that this wide range of tasty beverages can be produced from the simplest and most common of ingredients, from roses and raspberries, to tomatoes and even daisies. In 1909, Helen Wright published a collection of recipes for just such an array of delicious beverages. Having visited friends in New England, she found herself enjoying an "acquaintance with many varieties of home-made wines, over whose wealth of color and delicacy of flavor [her] eyes and palate longed to linger." 

The result of her travels and visits with "ladies of the Great Houses" led to a collection of recipes she published under the title Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, Cordials and Liqueurs from Fruits, Flowers, Vegetables and Shrubs. This collection of recipes is as extensive as its title, including recipes for apple and blackberry wines, as well as American Champagne, root beer, sundry cordials and liqueurs, and three varieties of a beverage intriguingly titled "Cherry Bounce."

This wonderful collection of recipes serves as both a charming historical document (featuring a delightful introduction by Wright) and a practicable recipe book for the homebrewer. While some of the ingredients may be harder to come by in this decade (elephant's milk in particular, may be a hard find!), most of the recipes feature ingredients still accessible today at both the grocery store and even your own garden. The cider recipes (there are nine!) would make a delectable addition to your upcoming Thanksgiving feast or any brisk fall day.

Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, Cordials and Liqueurs... is available in paperback and as a Google eBook.