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  1. 10.0 hrs • 8/16/2016 • Unabridged

    At midday on May 4, 1970, after three days of protests, several thousand students and the Ohio National Guard faced off at opposite ends of the grassy campus commons at Kent State University. At noon, the Guard moved out. Twenty-four minutes later, Guardsmen launched a thirteen-second, sixty-seven-shot barrage that left four students dead and nine wounded, one paralyzed for life. The story doesn’t end there, though. A horror of far greater proportions was narrowly averted minutes later when the Guard and students reassembled on the commons. The Kent State shootings were both unavoidable and preventable: unavoidable in that all the discordant forces of a turbulent decade flowed together on May 4, 1970, on one Ohio campus; preventable in that every party to the tragedy made the wrong choices at the wrong time in the wrong place. Using the university’s recently available oral-history collection supplemented by extensive new interviewing, Means tells the story of this iconic American moment through the eyes and memories of those who were there, and skillfully situates it in the context of a tumultuous era.

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    67 Shots by Howard Means

    67 Shots

    10.0 hrs • 8/16/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 22.1 hrs • 7/12/2016 • Unabridged

    Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded the Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a “Modern Moses,” becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for the Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr. Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs.

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    The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

    The Defender

    22.1 hrs • 7/12/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 8.3 hrs • 5/10/2016 • Unabridged

    One of North America’s most destructive fires, and the amazing true story of how its survivors escaped to change a nation. On September 1, 1894 two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over 2,000 people. Daniel J. Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in the first and only book to chronicle the dramatic story that unfolded. Whereas Oregon’s famous “Biscuit” fire in 2002 burned 350,000 acres in one week, the Hinckley fire did the same damage in five hours. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. In some instances, “fire whirls,” or tornadoes of fire, danced out from the main body of the fire to knock down buildings and carry flaming debris into the sky. Temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit—the melting point of steel. As the fire surrounded the town, two railroads became the only means of escape. Two trains ran the gauntlet of fire. One train caught on fire from one end to the other. The heroic young African American porter ran up and down the length of the train, reassuring the passengers even as the flames tore at their clothes. On the other train, the engineer refused to back his locomotive out of town until the last possible minute of escape. In all, more than four hundred people died, leading to a revolution in forestry management practices and federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires today. Author Daniel Brown has woven together numerous survivors’ stories, historical sources, and interviews with forest fire experts in a gripping narrative that tells the fascinating story of one of North America’s most devastating fires and how it changed the nation.

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    Under a Flaming Sky

    8.3 hrs • 5/10/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 13.7 hrs • 9/15/2015 • Unabridged

    It’s 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city’s leaders are among the most visionary in America: grandson of the first Ford, Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown’s founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C. L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and civil-rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; and Martin Luther King, Jr. It was the American auto makers’ best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther’s United Automobile Workers (UAW) had helped lift the middle class. The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march. Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot, before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and before white flight; before people trotted out the grab bag of rust-belt infirmities and competition from abroad to explain Detroit’s collapse. From high labor costs to harsh weather, one could see the signs of a city’s ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.

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    Once in a Great City

    13.7 hrs • 9/15/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 8.4 hrs • 6/1/2015 • Unabridged

    A stunning tell-all from a former Chicago cop who worked closely with the chief of detectives while maintaining a friendship with his old friend who had mob connections.

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    Mob Cop

    8.4 hrs • 6/1/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    24.3 hrs • 12/3/2014 • Unabridged

    The epic of Chicago is the story of the emergence of modern America. Here, witness Chicago’s growth from a desolate fur-trading post in the 1830s to one of the world’s most explosively alive cities by 1900. Donald Miller’s powerful narrative embraces it all: Chicago’s wild beginnings, its reckless growth, its natural calamities (especially the Great Fire of 1871), its raucous politics, its empire-building businessmen, its world-transforming architecture, its rich mix of cultures, its community of young writers and journalists, and its staggering engineering projects—which included the reversal of the Chicago River and raising the entire city from prairie mud to save it from devastating cholera epidemics. The saga of Chicago’s unresolved struggle between order and freedom, growth and control, capitalism and community, remains instructive for our time, as we seek ways to build and maintain cities that retain their humanity without losing their energy. City of the Century throbs with the pulse of the great city it brilliantly brings to life.

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    City of the Century

    24.3 hrs • 12/3/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 9.2 hrs • 5/6/2014 • Unabridged

    They came from one street, but death found them in many places: in a distant jungle, a frozen forest, and trapped in the flaming wreckage of a bomber blown from the sky. One died going over a fence during the greatest paratrooper assault in history. Another fell in the biggest battle of World War II. Yet another was riddled with bullets in an audacious act of heroism during a decisive onslaught a world away. All came from a single street in a railroad town called Silvis, Illinois—a tiny stretch of dirt barely a block-and-a-half long with an unparalleled history. The twenty-two Mexican-American families who lived on that one street sent fifty-seven of their children to fight in World War II and Korea—more than any other place that size anywhere in the country. Eight of those children died. It’s a distinction recognized by the Department of Defense, and it earned that rutted, unpaved strip a distinguished name. Today it’s known as Hero Street. This is the story of those brave men and their families, how they fought both in battle and to be accepted in an American society that remained biased against them even after they returned home as heroes. Based on interviews with relatives, friends, and soldiers who served alongside the men, as well as personal letters and photographs, The Ghosts of Hero Street is the compelling and inspiring account of a street of soldiers—and men—who would not be denied their dignity or their honor.

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    The Ghosts of Hero Street

    9.2 hrs • 5/6/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 12.1 hrs • 4/15/2014 • Unabridged

    Songs Only You Know: A Memoir plunges listeners into the Detroit hardcore punk scene with eighteen-year-old Sean and spans a dark decade during which his father succumbs to crack addiction, his younger sister spirals into a fatal depression, and his sense of home crumbles. Sean’s salvation is music, as well as the many eccentrics and outsiders he befriends as front man of a band once referred to by Spin magazine as “an art-core mindfuck.” Sean’s prose whips from mordantly funny to searingly honest while offering an unflinching look at a family in crisis, low-rent music subculture, and the hard-earned identity of its author. A story of young manhood that deserves a place alongside Tobias Wolff’s In Pharaoh’s Army and Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Songs Only You Know is a beautiful, devastating exploration of family, friends, and one young man’s musical dream. It marks the arrival of a fiercely original literary voice.

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    Songs Only You Know by Sean Madigan Hoen

    Songs Only You Know

    12.1 hrs • 4/15/14 • Unabridged
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  9. 5.5 hrs • 4/9/2014 • Unabridged

    In The Distancers, seven generations worth of joy and heartache is artfully forged into a family portrait that is at once universally American yet singularly Lee Sandlin’s own. From the nineteenth century German immigrants who settled on a small Midwestern farm, to the proud and upright aunts and uncles with whom Sandlin spent the summers of his youth, a whole history of quiet ambition and stoic pride—of successes, failures, and above all endurance—leaps off the page in a sweeping American family epic. Touching on The Great Depression, World War II, the American immigrant experience, and the uses of proper manners, The Distancers is a beautiful and stark Midwestern drama about a time and place long since vanished, where the author learned the value of family and the art of keeping one’s distance.

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    The Distancers

    5.5 hrs • 4/9/14 • Unabridged
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  10. 12.2 hrs • 2/20/2014 • Unabridged

    The true story of Eliot Ness, the legendary lawman who led the Untouchables, took on Al Capone, and saved a city’s soul. Eliot Ness is famous for leading the Untouchables against the notorious mobster Al Capone. But it turns out that the legendary Prohibition Bureau squad’s daring raids were only the beginning. Ness’s true legacy reaches far beyond Big Al and Chicago. Eliot Ness follows the lawman through his days in Chicago and into his forgotten second act. As the public safety director of Cleveland, he achieved his greatest success: purging the city of corruption so deep that the mob and the police were often one and the same. And it was here, too, that he faced one of his greatest challenges: a brutal, serial killer known as the Torso Murderer, who terrorized the city for years. Eliot Ness presents the first complete picture of the real man. Both fearless and shockingly shy, he inspired courage and loyalty in men twice his age, forged law-enforcement innovations that are still with us today, and earned acclaim and scandal from both his professional and personal lives. Through it all, he believed unwaveringly in the integrity of law and the basic goodness of his fellow Americans.

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    Eliot Ness

    12.2 hrs • 2/20/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 10.3 hrs • 1/15/2014 • Unabridged

    In 1779, Shawnees from Chillicothe, a community in the Ohio country, told the British, “We have always been the frontier.” Their statement challenges an oft-held belief that American Indians derive their unique identities from longstanding ties to native lands. By tracking Shawnee people and migrations from 1400 to 1754, Stephen Warren illustrates how Shawnees made a life for themselves at the crossroads of empires and competing tribes, embracing mobility and often moving willingly toward violent borderlands. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the Shawnees ranged over the eastern half of North America and used their knowledge to foster notions of pan-Indian identity that shaped relations between Native Americans and settlers in the revolutionary era and beyond. Warren’s deft analysis makes clear that Shawnees were not anomalous among native peoples east of the Mississippi. Through migration, they and their neighbors adapted to disease, warfare, and dislocation by interacting with colonizers as slavers, mercenaries, guides, and traders. These adaptations enabled them to preserve their cultural identities and resist coalescence without forsaking their linguistic and religious traditions.

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    The Worlds the Shawnees Made by Stephen Warren

    The Worlds the Shawnees Made

    10.3 hrs • 1/15/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 10.8 hrs • 1/15/2014 • Unabridged

    The gripping account of a once-in-a-lifetime football team and their lone championship season For Rich Cohen and millions of other fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team: they were the greatest football team ever—a gang of colorful nuts, dancing and pounding their way to victory. They won a Super Bowl and saved a city. It was not just that the Monsters of the Midway won but how they did it. On offense, there was high-stepping running back Walter Payton and Punky QB Jim McMahon, who had a knack for pissing off Coach Mike Ditka as he made his way to the end zone. On defense, there was the 46: a revolutionary, quarterback-concussing scheme cooked up by Buddy Ryan and ruthlessly implemented by Hall of Famers such as Dan “Danimal” Hampton and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. On the sidelines, in the locker rooms, and in bars, there was the never-ending soap opera: the coach and the quarterback bickering on television, Ditka and Ryan nearly coming to blows in the Orange Bowl, the players recording the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video the morning after the season’s only loss. Cohen tracked down the coaches and players from this iconic team and asked them everything he has always wanted to know: What’s it like to win? What’s it like to lose? Do you really hate the guys on the other side? Were you ever scared? What do you think as you lie broken on the field? How do you go on after you have lived your dream but life has not ended? The result is Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game: its history, its future, its fallen men, its immortal heroes. But mostly it’s about being a fan—about loving too much. This is a book about America at its most nonsensical, delirious, and joyful.

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    Monsters by Rich Cohen

    Monsters

    10.8 hrs • 1/15/14 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    7.6 hrs • 7/23/2013 • Unabridged

    It was the most famous bank robbery of all time, involving the legendary James-Younger gang’s final shocking holdup, the infamous Northfield Raid, and the thrilling two-week chase that followed. Mark Lee Gardner, author of the critically acclaimed To Hell on a Fast Horse, takes us inside Northfield’s First National Bank and outside to the streets as Jesse James and his band of outlaws square off against the heroic citizens who risked their lives to defeat America’s most daring criminals. With vivid detail and novelistic verve, Gardner follows the James brothers as they elude both the authorities and the furious citizen posses hell-bent on capturing them in one of the largest manhunts in the history of the United States. He reveals the serendipitous endings of the Younger brothers, Cole, Jim, and Bob, and explores the James brothers’ fates after the dust settled, solving mysteries about the raid that have been hotly debated for more than a hundred years. A galloping true tale of frontier justice featuring audacious outlaws and intrepid heroes, Shot All to Hell is a riveting slice of Wild West history that continues to fascinate today.

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    Shot All to Hell

    7.6 hrs • 7/23/13 • Unabridged
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  14. 7.3 hrs • 5/21/2013 • Unabridged

    In the heart of America, a metropolis is quietly destroying itself. Detroit, once the richest city in the nation, is now its poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age—mass production, automobiles, and blue-collar jobs—Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark and the righteous indignation that only a native son can possess, journalist Charlie LeDuff sets out to uncover what has brought low this once vibrant city, his city. In doing so, he uncovers the deeply human drama of a city filled with some of the strongest—and strangest—people our country has to offer.

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    Detroit

    7.3 hrs • 5/21/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 17.8 hrs • 4/18/2013 • Unabridged

    A cultural history of Chicago at midcentury, with its incredible mix of architects, politicians, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, and actors who helped shape modern America Though today it can seem as if all American culture comes out of New York and Los Angeles, much of what defined the nation as it grew into a superpower was produced in Chicago. Before air travel overtook trains, nearly every coast-to-coast journey included a stop there, and this flow of people and commodities made it America’s central clearinghouse, laboratory, and factory. Between the end of World War II and 1960, Mies van der Rohe’s glass and steel architecture became the face of corporate America, Ray Kroc’s McDonald’s changed how people eat, Hugh Hefner unveiled Playboy, and the Chess brothers supercharged rock and roll with Chuck Berry. At the University of Chicago, the atom was split and Western civilization was packaged into the Great Books. Yet even as Chicago led the way in creating mass-market culture, its artists pushed back in their own distinct voices. In literature, it was the outlaw novels of Nelson Algren (then carrying on a passionate affair with Simone de Beauvoir), the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks, and Studs Terkel’s oral histories. In music, it was the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, the urban blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and the trippy avant-garde jazz of Sun Ra. In performance, it was the intimacy of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, the “Chicago School” of television, and the improvisational comedy troupe Second City whose famous alumni are now everywhere in American entertainment. Despite this diversity, racial divisions informed virtually every aspect of life in Chicago. The chaos—both constructive and destructive—of this period was set into motion by the second migration north of African Americans during World War II. As whites either fled to the suburbs or violently opposed integration, urban planners tried to design away “blight” with projects that marred a generation of American cities. The election of Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1955 launched a frenzy of new building that came at a terrible cost—monolithic housing projects for the black community and a new kind of self-satisfied provincialism that sped up the end of Chicago’s role as America’s meeting place. In luminous prose, Chicago native Thomas Dyja re-creates the story of the city in its postwar prime and explains its profound impact on modern America.

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    The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja

    The Third Coast

    17.8 hrs • 4/18/13 • Unabridged
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  16. 8.2 hrs • 9/28/2012 • Unabridged

    From Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard comes the inspirational story of a coach, a baseball team, and the season they’d never forget. In 1971 a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of 370 teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There, sporting long hair and warming up to Jesus Christ Superstar, the Ironmen would play a dramatic game against a Chicago powerhouse that would change their lives forever. In a gripping, cinematic narrative, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard tells the story of the team and its coach, Lynn Sweet—a hippie, dreamer, and intellectual who arrived in Macon in 1966, bringing progressive ideas to a town stuck in the Eisenhower era. Beloved by students but not administration, Sweet reluctantly took over a rag-tag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by Sweet’s unconventional methods and led by fiery star Steve Shartzer and spindly curveball artist John Heneberry, the undersized, undermanned Macon Ironmen embarked on an improbable postseason run that infuriated rival coaches and buoyed an entire town. Beginning with Sweet’s arrival, Ballard takes listeners on a journey back to the Ironmen’s historic season and then on to the present day, returning to the 1971 Ironmen to explore the effect the game had on their lives’ trajectories—and the men they’ve become because of it. Engaging and poignant, One Shot at Forever is a testament to the power of high school sports to shape the lives of those who play them, and it reminds us that there are few bonds more sacred than those among a coach, a team, and a town.

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    One Shot at Forever

    8.2 hrs • 9/28/12 • Unabridged
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