The Spirit of Sweetgrass
Seitz's main character is Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins, a Gullah sweetgrass basketmaker who weaves her magic on the roadside near Mt. Pleasant. With her special love baskets, she works to brings people together. Conflict ensues when her daughter wants her to go to a rest home, and the florist she's been trying to fix up turns out to be gay. Sweetgrass making, roadside basket sellers in the Charleston area, mystery, comedy, family relationships, friends.
Confederates in the Attic
April Childress says this is one of the funniest, most poignant, appalling, and clear pictures of the modern South's relationship to the Civil War she's ever seen. She says Horwitz (not a Southerner) is a great writer, no matter his topic, and here he jumps into his topic with both muddied feet.
From the Book Description: When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he's put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to his own heart.
Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America's greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance.
In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of 'hardcore' reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; in Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag; at Andersonville, he finds that the prison's commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and in the book's climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge, an eccentric pilgrim who dubs their odyssey the 'Civil Wargasm.'
Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones 'classrooms, courts, country bars' where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.
Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest
Our Naturalist Bill Hamel says this is the “best all around for naturalists and history lovers.” Longleaf pine forests are a special ecosystem and home to the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.
From Book Description: "Covering 92 million acres from Virginia to Texas, the longleaf pine ecosystem was, in its prime, one of the most extensive and biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. Today these magnificent forests have declined to a fraction of their original extent, threatening such species as the gopher tortoise, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and the Venus fly-trap. Conservationists have proclaimed longleaf restoration a major goal, but has it come too late?
In Looking for Longleaf, Lawrence S. Earley explores the history of these forests and the astonishing biodiversity of the longleaf ecosystem, drawing on extensive research and telling the story through first-person travel accounts and interviews with foresters, ecologists, biologists, botanists, and landowners. For centuries, these vast grass-covered forests provided pasture for large cattle herds, in addition to serving as the world's greatest source of naval stores. They sustained the exploitative turpentine and lumber industries until nearly all of the virgin longleaf had vanished.
Looking for Longleaf demonstrates how, in the twentieth century, forest managers and ecologists struggled to understand the special demands of longleaf and to halt its overall decline. The compelling story Earley tells here offers hope that with continued human commitment, the longleaf pine might not just survive, but once again thrive."
"The Swamp Fox"
Here's the link to this article about one of the most famous Revolutionary War heroes in SC, and one for whom counties and cities are named. Francis Marion used his knowledge of the swamps and woods of SC and his attention to details to outwit British troops and earn his nickname. A poor speller, he was nonetheless a great report-writer. www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/biography/fox.html
A Coast for All Seasons: A Naturalist's Guide to the Coast of South Carolina
From Book Description:
"Explore the marvels of the South Carolina coast through the eyes of two gifted coastal geologists. Miles O. Hayes and Jacqueline Michel take their exceptional understanding of the Carolina coast with its barrier islands, estuaries and bays, and, offer rare insights into this beautiful, and, sometimes, treacherous world.
Illustrations, photographs and satellite imagery enhance a narrative that presents hard science and makes it accessible and very human. This is a book that investigates the changing face of the coastline through erosion, hurricanes and climate change. This is a book that matters."
Our naturalist Bill Hamel says this is "a bible around here." Hand-drawn illustrations enhance the explanations. Each page was once an article in the local paper. Written for regular folks, there's information to satisfy trained naturalists.
The Water is Wide
Pat Conroy's memoir about teaching on Daufuskee Island in a one-room schoolhouse. The book was made into the movie Conrack, starring Jon Voight. Sense of place and people.
Product Description from publisher: The island is nearly deserted, haunting, beautiful. Across a slip of ocean lies South Carolina. But for the handful of families on Yamacraw island, America is a world away. For years the people here lived proudly from the sea, but now its waters are not safe. Waste from industry threatens their very existence--unless, somehow, they can learn a new life. But they will learn nothing without someone to teach them, and their school has no teacher.
Here is PAT CONROY'S extraordinary drama based on his own experience: the true story of a man who gave a year of his life to an island and the new life its people gave him.
Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast: Common Birds, Crabs, Shells, Fish, and other Entities of the Coastal Environment (2nd edition)
Copied from Book Description: "Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast, second edition, is a completely updated, revised, and expanded version of the book originally published in 1991. It is a practical, entertaining, reader-friendly guide to the common animals, plants, and environment of the Carolina coast. Fully illustrated, with over 150 color photographs to aid with identification of over 120 subjects, plus additional drawings with in-depth information on each subject. Scientifically accurate, yet written in language the lay public can understand. It is a perfect resource for coastal residents and visitors along the North Carolina/South Carolina, and even the Georgia coast. A beachcomber's handbook; valuable to any seaside explorer."
The Prince of Tides
Pat Conroy's novel captures the beauty of the lowcountry as it moves from present to past and back again. Made into a movie by the same title starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte. Narrated by Tom Wingo, the novel explores the relationships between members of a dysfunctional family as it moves between the lowcountry to Manhattan. Shrimping, good description of salt marshes.