Lois Leveen


May 7, 2012

Don’t Fire Till You See the Whites of Their Wine

Two Civil War action figures in front of boxes of wine
I'm thrilled that The Secrets of Mary Bowser has been chosen as a finalist for the June selection in the Sutter Home Wine book club. Please vote! Tell your friends to vote! http://on.fb.me/IDbrbG
And remember to always drink, and read, responsibly.
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April 23, 2012

World Book Night

It's World Book Night. Or at least English-speaking World Book Night. All over the UK, Ireland, and the US, people are giving away free books. Bestsellers. Classics. Books donated by authors and publishers, to spread the joy of reading.

I paired up with some of the staff at Multnomah County Library to give away Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

We went to some of the parks downtown, like the rest of the pushers.

The first book is free. After that, you need a library card.

I was particularly pleased to turn my leopard-print bicycle into a minibook mobile. You can ride 3 miles with 20 copies of a bestselling novel onboard.

The highlight of the day was meeting these kids
Kids getting free books
They're from a small town in Washington. They were visiting Portland together because one of them is about to leave for military training.

We gave them 3 books. They're giving a lot more.

They did love the cat ears.
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April 20, 2012

Dangerfield, all too aptly named

Dangerfield Newby. That's the sort of name you can't make up as a novelist. I'll be reading a passage about Newby tomorrow, and I'm afraid I'll choke.

Not over his fantastic name. Over the letters his wife, who was a slave, wrote him, once he was free and trying to save the money to buy her.
Dangerfield Newby photograph
Here's one--real people, real letter.


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April 19, 2012

Remembering Shiloh

Is this a brilliant, touching way to show the horror of war, or a Martha Stewart project gone awry?
On the one hand, it makes visible the thousands who died. On the other hand, it looks like a garden party, albeit a somber one.
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April 17, 2012

You’re free. As in, free to go.

The good news: you're free. The (potentially) bad news: as in free to leave the country.

Today's Civil War fact: The law that emancipated DC slaves compensated owners $300 per slave. It also offered those former slaves $100 each to emigrate.

It's one of the sharpest examples of the racism of many (though certainly not all) white abolitionists, who might have objected to slavery as an institution but were not quite up for accepting blacks as equal citizens of the United States. The colonization movement mostly focused on sending former slaves to Liberia, although the DC law didn't specify where a former slave had to go.

From the perspective of free blacks--whether newly freed or whether born free to free parents--emigration was more complicated. Some free blacks chose, even without any compensation, to move to Liberia, or to Haiti or Canada. Why? Because even in states were slavery was illegal, discrimination was not. Schools, jobs, housing, public transit, the right to vote--any of that might be denied to someone purely based on race. In some cases, well into the second half of the twentieth century.
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