Book Report: A bit of mystery and history sure to please all readers“Crawl Space,” by Sarah Graves (Bantam, $25) shows you there’s a niche for writers with any sort of expertise, as long as they can couch it in terms of rousing mystery.
By: Dave Wood, Book Reviewer, River Falls Journal
“Crawl Space,” by Sarah Graves (Bantam, $25) shows you there’s a niche for writers with any sort of expertise, as long as they can couch it in terms of rousing mystery.
Graves writes the Home Improvement series of mysteries, featuring Jacobia Tiptree, a stockbroker who has given up that unsavory business to remodel an early 19th century Federalist-style mansion in the little town of Eastport, Maine, where someone always seems to be getting murdered. This time it’s two members of the aristocratic Dodd family.
And Jake’s skills are put to the test and complicated by the arrival of a famous crime writer and her bedeviled assistant, who is bitter about his boss’ ambition and unfettered abuse of his talents.
My great-uncle Jim was the only guy in my hometown who went off to fight the Spaniards in Cuba back in 1898. He left town a strapping farm boy and returned a year later the shell of his former self.
He never got a shot at a Spaniard despite the letters he wrote home about giving those Europeans “what for.” Instead, he got food poisoning in Camp Poland, Tenn., and never got past the United States border.
Still, I’ve been proud of his perhaps misguided patriotism and stand tall whenever his name is read during Memorial Day services in Whitehall’s cemetery.
A new element has been added to my understanding of the Spanish American War and its aftermath in a book by Elkhorn writer John Durand. It’s “The Boys” (Puzzlebox Press, P. O. Box 765, Elkhorn, WI 53121, $17.95).
Durand, a Spooner native, had a grandpa named Tom Stafne who kept a journal of his exploits after joining the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Regiment to go and give those Spaniards “what for.” Like Jim Wood, he never got to Cuba, but ended up in the Philippines to help liberate the Filipinos from the yoke of Spain.
Stafne ended up fighting the very Filipinos he had gone to help liberate, in what Durand calls the bloodiest battleground for Americans since the Civil War.
Durand dips into his granddad’s journal, which he later transformed into a “Short History” and the diary of a fellow soldier, John Kinne, whose work Durand discovered in his research to tell the story of the Philippine misadventure.
Although Stafne had a minimal education, he wrote very well, as does his grandson, who has done a marvelous job setting the stage for the 1898 war and the consequences for the Philippines. He begins with the sinking of the battleship “Maine,” which by all account was probably exploded due to internal combustion, except for the warmongering of president to be Teddy Roosevelt and yellow journalist William Randolph Hearst and the popularity of naval authority Alfred Mahan’s theory of the role of sea power in the making of nations.
The young men who went off to give the Spaniards “what for,” as Durand puts it had “the grandest event of our lives,” wouldn’t probably cotton to a new book from Minneapolis entitled “You Can’t Do That! Marv Davidov, Nonviolent Revolutionary,” by Carol Masters and Marv Davidov (Nodin Press, $19.95,paper).
Davidov is the professional demonstrator who has earned his keep appearing at demonstrations against wars, against sexism and all manner of causes. His new book tells his story and how he has managed to survive through donations from supporters, including medical services from prominent doctors.
Dave would like to hear from you. Call him at 426-9554.