Welcome to Current Reads: a collection of books written about in the Marblehead Current, recommended by our staff and board or voted upon by our readers. These works are available for purchase on the Current Reads shelf at Saltwater Bookstore, 134 Washington Street, Marblehead or online at bookshop.org.
The Indispensables: The Diverse Soldier-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware
Author: Patrick O’Donnell
Book Description: “On the stormy night of August 29, 1776, the Continental Army faced capture or annihilation after losing the Battle of Brooklyn. The British had trapped George Washington’s forces against the East River, and the fate of the Revolution rested upon the shoulders of the soldier-mariners from Marblehead, Massachusetts. Serving side by side in one of the country’s first diverse units, they pulled off an “American Dunkirk” and saved the army by transporting it across the treacherous waters of the river to Manhattan. In the annals of the American Revolution, no group played a more consequential role than the Marbleheaders. At the right time in the right place, they repeatedly altered the course of events, and their story shines new light on our understanding of the Revolution. As acclaimed historian Patrick K. O’Donnell dramatically recounts, beginning nearly a decade before the war started, and in the midst of a raging virus that divided the town politically, Marbleheaders such as Elbridge Gerry and Azor Orne spearheaded the break with Britain and shaped the nascent United States by playing a crucial role governing, building alliances, seizing British ships, forging critical supply lines, and establishing the origins of the US Navy. The Marblehead Regiment, led by John Glover, became truly indispensable. Marbleheaders battled at Lexington and on Bunker Hill and formed the elite Guard that protected George Washington. Then, at the most crucial time in the war, the special operations-like regiment, against all odds, conveyed 2,400 of Washington’s men across the ice-filled Delaware River on Christmas night 1776, delivering a momentum-shifting surprise attack on Trenton. Later, Marblehead doctor Nathaniel Bond inoculated the Continental Army against a deadly virus, which changed the course of history. White, Black, Hispanic, and Native American, this uniquely diverse group of soldiers set an inclusive standard of unity the US Army would not reach again for more than 170 years. The Marbleheaders’ chronicle, never fully told before now, makes The Indispensables a vital addition to the literature of the American Revolution.”
A Heart That Works
Author: Rob Delaney, Marbleheader
Book Description: “Henry, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The family had moved from Los Angeles to London with their two young boys when Rob’s wife was pregnant with Henry, their third. The move was an adventure and a challenge that would bind them even more tightly together as they navigated the novelty of London, the culture clashes, and the funhouse experience of Rob’s fame–thanks to his role as co-creator and co-star of the hit series Catastrophe. Henry’s illness was a cataclysm that changed everything about their lives. Amid the hospital routine, surgeries, and brutal treatments, they found a newfound community of nurses, aides, caregivers, and fellow parents contending with the unthinkable. Two years later, Henry died, and his family watched their world fall away to reveal the things that matter most. A Heart That Works is Delaney’s intimate, unflinching, and fiercely funny exploration of what happened – from the harrowing illness to the vivid, bodily impact of grief and the blind, furious rage that followed through to the forceful, unstoppable love that remains. In the madness of his grief, Delaney grapples with the fragile miracle of life, the mysteries of death, and the question of purpose for those left behind. Delaney’s memoir–profound, painful, full of emotion, and bracingly honest–offers solace to those who have faced devastation and shows us how grace may appear even in the darkest times.”
The Good House
Author: Ann Leary, Marbleheader
Book Description: “Hildy Good is a townie. A lifelong resident of a small community on the rocky coast of Boston’s North Shore, she knows pretty much everything about everyone. And she’s good at lots of things, too. A successful real-estate broker, mother, and grandmother, her days are full. But her nights have become lonely ever since her daughters, convinced their mother was drinking too much, sent her off to rehab. Now she’s in recovery–more or less.
Alone and feeling unjustly persecuted, Hildy finds a friend in Rebecca McAllister, one of the town’s wealthy newcomers. Rebecca is grateful for the friendship and Hildy feels like a person of the world again, as she and Rebecca escape their worries with some harmless gossip and a bottle of wine by the fire–just one of their secrets. But Rebecca is herself the subject of town gossip. When Frank Getchell, an old friend who shares a complicated history with Hildy, tries to warn her away from Rebecca, Hildy attempts to protect her friend from a potential scandal. Soon, however, Hildy is busy trying to protect her own reputation. When a cluster of secrets becomes dangerously entwined, the reckless behavior of one person threatens to expose the other, and this darkly comic novel takes a chilling turn.”
On My Watch: A Memoir
Author: Virginia Buckingham, Marbleheader
Referenced In: A book lover’s pledge
Book Description: “Blamed for the 9/11 attacks, one woman has to find the courage to be her own hero.
As the nation came together to mourn, to support, and to rebuild in the aftermath of 9/11, Virginia Buckingham was singled out for blame. As the head of Boston’s Logan International Airport, the launching pad for the hijacked planes that destroyed the Twin Towers, she was scapegoated by the media and political leaders for supposed airport security lapses and forced to resign. She was also sued for wrongful death by the family of a 9/11 victim, holding her personally responsible for the terrorist attack. A rising star at thirty-five–she had served as chief of staff to two consecutive Massachusetts governors before becoming the first woman to head the state’s Port Authority–Buckingham’s life and career was suddenly derailed.
Grappling with issues of trauma, faith, leadership, and resilience, this unique memoir shares her struggle to rebuild her life and come to terms with being blamed for the unimaginable tragedy that occurred on her watch.”
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Author: Robert D. Putnam
Refereced In: EDITORIAL: Sour taste lingers
Book Description: “Twenty years, ago, Robert D. Putnam made a seemingly simple observation: once we bowled in leagues, usually after work; but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolized a significant social change that became the basis of the acclaimed bestseller, Bowling Alone, which The Washington Post called “a very important book” and Putnam, “the de Tocqueville of our generation.” Bowling Alone surveyed in detail Americans’ changing behavior over the decades, showing how we had become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and social structures, whether it’s with the PTA, church, clubs, political parties, or bowling leagues.
In the revised edition of his classic work, Putnam shows how our shrinking access to the “social capital” that is the reward of communal activity and community sharing still poses a serious threat to our civic and personal health, and how these consequences have a new resonance for our divided country today. He includes critical new material on the pervasive influence of social media and the internet, which has introduced previously unthinkable opportunities for social connection–as well as unprecedented levels of alienation and isolation. At the time of its publication, Putnam’s then-groundbreaking work showed how social bonds are the most powerful predictor of life satisfaction, and how the loss of social capital is felt in critical ways, acting as a strong predictor of crime rates and other measures of neighborhood quality of life, and affecting our health in other ways. While the ways in which we connect, or become disconnected, have changed over the decades, his central argument remains as powerful and urgent as ever: mending our frayed social capital is key to preserving the very fabric of our society.”
Oh $#!% What’s For Dinner? No-Fuss Weeknight Recipes You’ll Swear By
Author: Maria Sansone, Marbleheader
Book Description: “If you ever looked at the clock and thought, Oh $#!%, what’s for dinner? This is your book! Emmy award-winning TV host, social media personality, lifestyle expert, and mom of two, Maria Sansone, knows that when it comes to weeknight dinners . . . the struggle is real. In Oh $#!% What’s for Dinner? Maria shares 65 of her go-to, no-fuss weeknight recipes for real life. No appetizers and no desserts because mama don’t have time for that on a weeknight. Quick and easy entrees paired with some tried-and-true sides designed to help you through meal time, in no time. From retro comfort foods like meatloaf, mac and cheese, and chicken pot pie to Sansone family favorites like meatballs, fried spaghetti, pizza, and wedding soup this is a thoughtfully curated collection of fun, kid-friendly, do-able dinners you’ll swear by.”
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution
AUTHOR: Eric Jay Dolin
BOOK DESCRIPTION: The heroic story of the founding of the U.S. Navy during the Revolution has been told many times, yet largely missing from maritime histories of America’s first war is the ragtag fleet of private vessels that truly revealed the new nation’s character–above all, its ambition and entrepreneurial ethos.
In Rebels at Sea, best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin corrects that significant omission, and contends that privateers, as they were called, were in fact critical to the American victory. Privateers were privately owned vessels, mostly refitted merchant ships, that were granted permission by the new government to seize British merchantmen and men of war. As Dolin stirringly demonstrates, at a time when the young Continental Navy numbered no more than about sixty vessels all told, privateers rushed to fill the gaps. Nearly 2,000 set sail over the course of the war, with tens of thousands of Americans serving on them and capturing some 1,800 British ships. Privateers came in all shapes and sizes, from twenty-five foot long whaleboats to full-rigged ships more than 100 feet long. Bristling with cannons, swivel guns, muskets, and pikes, they tormented their foes on the broad Atlantic and in bays and harbors on both sides of the ocean.
The men who owned the ships, as well as their captains and crew, would divide the profits of a successful cruise–and suffer all the more if their ship was captured or sunk, with privateersmen facing hellish conditions on British prison hulks, where they were treated not as enemy combatants but as pirates. Some Americans viewed them similarly, as cynical opportunists whose only aim was loot. Yet Dolin shows that privateersmen were as patriotic as their fellow Americans, and moreover that they greatly contributed to the war’s success: diverting critical British resources to protecting their shipping, playing a key role in bringing France into the war on the side of the United States, providing much-needed supplies at home, and bolstering the new nation’s confidence that it might actually defeat the most powerful military force in the world.
Creating an entirely new pantheon of Revolutionary heroes, Dolin reclaims such forgotten privateersmen as Captain Jonathan Haraden and Offin Boardman, putting their exploits, and sacrifices, at the very center of the conflict. Abounding in tales of daring maneuvers and deadly encounters, Rebels at Sea presents this nation’s first war as we have rarely seen it before.