The Honorable Marge Roukema

imagesAnother day, another passing. Today New Jersey lost former Congresswoman Marge Roukema who was 85 years-old. She was a Republican elected in 1980; the same year Ronald Reagan won the presidency. Her first term in office would be Millicent Fenwick’s last term in Congress, but neither women knew that at the time.

As a freshman, Roukema sought Fenwick’s sage advice. Back then Fenwick was known for the uncanny amount of time she spent on the House floor. What most didn’t realize was that her time was more calculated than her peers gave her credit for. That became clear to me when I interviewed Roukema. She relayed how Fenwick told her “You need to sit on the floor to get to know your colleagues. Get to know them, not only in committee, but on the floor when debates are going on. It is then you can learn to judge whose opinions you can trust, and whose opinions you must be skeptical of. Be able to evaluate them.”

“That was wonderful advice,” said Roukema. “The first year or so I spent a lot of time on the floor listening to debates . . . and got a sense of things. Not only the issues but a sense of the evaluation of the people that were presenting things and who was being superficial and political and who was being substantive and incisive. It was excellent advice. Of course, she [Fenwick] was always there. Third row on the aisle.”[i]

What I did not know until today was that Roukema was the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives, serving eleven terms from 1981 – 2003. Since 2003 New Jersey has not sent a woman to Congress, but all that has just changed. Last week, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat, was elected to the House. When she takes office in January she will be the first woman elected to Congress from New Jersey since Roukema retired more than a decade ago. It’s about time.

[i] Amy Schapiro, Millicent Fenwick: Her Way (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 153.

John Doar

Today the nation learned that we lost another hero from the Civil Rights Era – John Doar, He worked alongside Nicholas President+Obama+Awards+Presidential+Medals+1o6TF0QDodvlKatzenbach at the Department of Justice and served as the head of the Civil Rights Division during Katzenbach’s tenure as Attorney General. Like Katzenbach, Doar was at many pivotal events in this nation’s fight for equal rights. It was John Doar who escorted James Meredith when he desegregated Ole Miss in 1962, and it was Doar who helped diffuse a tense situation in the wake of Medgar Evans murder a year later. And it was Doar who successfully prosecuted and got convictions in the highly publicized murder case that gripped the nation of three civil rights volunteers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.

A couple of years ago, fellow author and friend, Henry Gallagher, led the charge for John Doar to be recognized for his service to this nation with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gallagher succeeded in his quest and in 2012 President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to John Doar. Just this week the White House announced this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and among the nineteen individuals who will receive this honor are Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman posthumously.

While I was fortunate to meet John Doar on several occasions and chat with him about Katzenbach, he was a man of few words. He always agreed to an interview, but actually scheduling it proved to be a challenge and one that I never accomplished.

On this Veteran’s Day while we remember and salute those who have served and currently serve to protect this nation and the freedoms we enjoy, we also remember another a freedom fighter – John Doar, may he rest in peace.

101 Great New Jersey Books

imagesThis year New Jersey is celebrating it’s 350th Anniversary. As part of that celebration, the New Jersey State Library, Rutgers Library, and the New Jersey Historical Commission developed a list of the 101 best New Jersey books and Millicent Fenwick: Her Way made the cut!

I’m in good company. Other authors on the list include Sylvia Nasar for her biography, A Beautiful Mind about John Forbes Nash, Jr.; David McCullough for his book 1776 shedding new light on the Revolutionary War; and Phillip Roth’s classic Goodbye, Columbus. More recent titles include Junot Diaz’s award winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her.

Here’s the full list of great New Jersey books:

101 Great New Jersey Books List

GENERAL HISTORY
1. Patricia Bonomi – The Lord Cornbury Scandal: the Politics of Reputation in British America
2. Charles Boyer – Old Inns and Taverns in West Jersey
3. John Cunningham – This Is New Jersey
4. Giles Wright – “Steal Away, Steal Away”: a Guide to the Underground Railroad in New Jersey
5. Graham Russell Hodges — Slavery and Freedom in the Rural North: African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1665-1865
6. Michael Immersa – Newark’s Little Italy: the Vanished First Ward
7. Nelson Johnson – Boardwalk Empire: the Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City
8. Robert Kurson – Shadow Divers: the True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
9. Marc Mappen – Jerseyana: the Underside of New Jersey History
10. Dermot Quinn – The Irish in New Jersey: Four Centuries of American Life

FICTION (SET IN NJ)
1. Mary Higgins Clark – On the Street Where You Live
2. Harlen Coben – Fade Away
3. Junot Diaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
4. Janet Evanovich – Four to Score
5. Richard Ford – The Bascombe Novels
6. Nathan Heard – Howard Street: a Novel
7. Curtis Lucas – Third Ward, Newark
8. Joyce Carol Oates (ed.) – New Jersey Noir
9. Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus
10. Joe Vallese & Alicia Beale – What’s Your Exit?: a Literary Detour Through New Jersey

CHILDREN & YOUNG ADULTS
1. Judy Blume – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
2. Eileen Cameron – G is for Garden State: a New Jersey Alphabet
3. Wende and Harry Devlin – Cranberry Thanksgiving
4. David Lubar – Dunk
5. Joyce McDonald – Swallowing Stones
6. Carol Plum-Ucci – The Body of Christopher Creed
7. Mary Pope Osborne – Revolutionary War on Wednesday
8. Ann Rinaldi – Time Enough for Drums
9. Gertrude Chandler Warner – The Boxcar Children: The Boardwalk Mystery
10. David Wiesner – Flotsam

SCIENCE, BUSINESS & NATURE
1. Thomas Belton – Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: From Cancer Alley to the New Garden State
2. Joanna Burger – A Naturalist Along the Jersey Shore
3. Jack Connor – Season at the Point: the Birds and Birders of Cape May
4. Ernest Freeberg – The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
5. Jon Gertner – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
6. Wheaton Lane – From Indian Trail to Iron Horse: Travel and Transportation in New Jersey, 1620-1860
7. John McPhee – The Pine Barrens
8. Robert Sullivan – The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of a City
9. Richard Veit – Digging New Jersey’s Past: Historical Archaeology in the Garden State
10. Peter Wacker & Paul Clemens – Land Use in Early New Jersey: a Historical Geography

POLITICS
1. Paul Clemens – The Uses of Abundance: a History of New Jersey’s Economy
2. Ovid Demaris – The Boardwalk Jungle
3. Steven Hart – The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway
4. Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure – The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption
5. Alan Karcher – New Jersey’s Multiple Municipal Madness
6. Duane Lockard – The New Jersey Governor: A Study in Political Power
7. Richard McCormick – New Jersey: From Colony to State, 1609-1789
8. Gerald Pomper – The Political State of New Jersey
9. Salmore & Salmore – New Jersey Politics and Government: the Suburbs Come of Age
10. John Wefing – The Life and Times of Richard J. Hughes: the Politics of Civility

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
1. Martin Duberman – Paul Robeson: A Biography
2. Gillan, Gillan and Giunta – Italian American Writers on New Jersey
3. Howard Greenfeld – Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life
4. Walter Isaacson – Einstein: His Life and Universe
5. S. Mitra Kalita – Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America
6. Sylvia Nasar – A Beautiful Mind: a Biography of John Forbes Nash,Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994
7. Amy Schapiro – Millicent Fenwick: Her Way
8. James Still – Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still
9. Patricia Tyson Stroud – The Man Who Had Been King: the American Exile of Napoleon’s Brother Joseph
10. Mary Walton – A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot

NEW JERSEY AT WAR
1. Michael S. Adelberg – The American Revolution in Monmouth County: The Theatre of Spoil and Destruction
2. Joseph Bilby – “Remember You Are Jerseymen!”: a Military History of New Jersey’s Troops in the Civil War
3. Joseph G. Bilby, ed. – New Jersey Goes to War: Biographies of 150 New Jerseyans Caught up in the Struggle of the Civil War
4. Kevin Coyne -Marching Home : to War and Back with the Men of One American Town
5. Mark Di Ionno – A Guide to New Jersey’s Revolutionary War Trail : for Families and History Buffs
6. David Hackett Fisher – Washington’s Crossing
7. William Gillette – Jersey Blue: Civil War Politics in New Jersey, 1854-1865
8. Arthur Lefkowitz – The Long Retreat: The Calamitous American Defense of New Jersey, 1776
9. Mark Lender – One State in Arms: a Short Military History of New Jersey
10. David McCullogh – 1776

ARTS & POETRY
1. Meredith Bzdak and Douglas Petersen – Public Sculpture in New Jersey : Monuments to Collective Identity
2. Walter Choroszewski – New Jersey, a photographic celebration
3. Alan Ginsburg – Howl
4. Robert P. Guter – Building by the Book: Pattern Book Architecture in New Jersey
5. Joyce Kilmer – Trees and Other Poems
6. Robert Pinsky – Jersey Rain
7. John R.Quinn – Fields of Sun and Grass: An Artist’s Journal of the New Jersey Meadowlands.
8. Gerald Stern – This Time: New and Selected Poems
9. Lynd Ward – Vertigo
10. Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass
11. William Carlos Williams – Paterson

REFERENCE
1. Joan Burstyn – Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women
2. The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage:10,000 BC to AD 2000, By Herbert C. Kraft.
3. Joseph Felcone – New Jersey Books. Vols. I & II.
4. Maxine Lurie & Marc Mappen – Encyclopedia of New Jersey
5. Maxine Lurie, Peter Wacker ( eds.) & Michael Siegel – Mapping New Jersey: An Evolving Landscape
6. Clement Price – Freedom Not Far Distant: a Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey
7. Helen Schwartz – The New Jersey House
8. Donald Sinclair – New Jersey Biographical Index: covering some 100,000 biographies and associated portraits in 237 New Jersey cyclopedias, histories, yearbooks, periodicals and other collective biographical sources published to about 1980
9. Skinder-Strauss Associates (pub.) – Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey
10. John Snyder – The Mapping of New Jersey: the Men and the Art

RECENTLY PUBLISHED
1. Peter Ames Carlin – Bruce
2. Junot Diaz – This is How You Lose Her
3. Mark Di Ionno – The Last Newspaperman
4. Charles Graeber – The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
5. George Kirsch – Six Guys from Hackensack: Coming of Age in the Real New Jersey
6. Cathy D. Knepper – Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six
7. Marc Mappen – Prohibition Gangsters: the Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation
8. Barksdale Maynard – Princeton, America’s Campus
9. Holly Metz – Killing the Poormaster: a Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression
10. Maxine Lurie and Richard Veit – New Jersey: A History of the Garden State

This Day in History

Millicent Fenwick CoverSeptember 16, 2014: It is hard to believe, but 22 years ago today Millicent Fenwick quietly passed away in her sleep at her Bernardsville home. I guess the old adage that time flies is true as it doesn’t seem like it’s been more than two decades since she left us.

50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act

1393523191000-AP-LBJs-Legacy-001I woke up this morning expecting to be inundated with memories and reflections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on its 50th Anniversary. Last night there was a great piece on CBS Evening News with former White House Aid Clifford Alexander, and, as he said,  he was “the only African American on the staff at the time.” I was hoping to be greeted by similar stories this morning through my morning news – NPR and the Washington Post (no TV) and was disappointed when neither mentioned this historic occasion. I even flipped through the front section of the Washington Post and there was nothing. However, one story, that jumped out was about Michelle Howard. She just became the first female four-star admiral and first African American to become the Navy’s vice chief of naval operations, the number two person at the Navy. So while I didn’t see news of LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act, the impact of that historic legislation is reflected within the news of the day. I imagine (and hope) that there will be more stories later in the day.

For history junkies like me there is always C-Span, and particularly C-Span 3, which has treated viewers with all sorts of archival treasures in the days leading up to this historic 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

 

BIO Announces Hazel Rowley Prize – Deadline January 31, 2014

Bio-Logo_Black2-500x193 It’s still January and there’s still plenty of time to keep all those new year’s resolutions you made. My new year’s resolution is that this will be the year of the book, which for me means finishing the Katzenbach biography.

But for all those aspiring first-time authors, the Biographers International Organization (BIO) is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for a future biographer (and I’m on a committee to help raise awareness about this new award so here goes it). BIO has named a prize after BIO member Hazel Rowley (1951-2011), an author of several biographies including Tȇte-à-Tȇte: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, translated into twelve languages.

The Hazel Rowley prize is intended for first-time biographers and will award the prize to the best proposal for a first time biography. The purpose of this award is to provide new biographers an opportunity to have their proposal read by an agent who will bring the winning proposal to the attention of editors and publishers who are actively seeking to publish biography.  The Prize also includes $2,000 in prize money.

The winner of the BIO/Hazel Rowley Prize for Best Proposal for a First Biography will be announced at BIO’s fifth annual conference in Boston on May 17, 2014.

The deadline for applying is January 31, 2014. See details about the prize and eligibility guidelines at http://biographersinternational.org/rowley-prize/

 And for more information about BIO, a grassroots organization of writers, educators, publishing experts, readers and others who support the art and craft of biography please visit: www.biographersinternational.org

Good luck!

 

Sept. 16

Millicent Fenwick CoverIt is 21 years ago today that Millicent Fenwick passed away and 10 years since Millicent Fenwick: Her Way was first published. I cannot believe either milestone. The other thing that always surprises me is that despite the passing of time, Fenwick still makes headlines every election season, at least in New Jersey. We’ll see if the same holds true this year with the gubernatorial race and Frank Lautenberg’s open Senate seat. Ironically, it was Lautenberg’s death this past June that once again revived Millicent Fenwick in print as it was Fenwick that Lautenberg defeated to win his first Senate campaign 31 years ago.  Today we remember the feisty pipe-smoking grandmother and can only imagine what she would do if she was in Congress today.

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