What are historians reading?

7/30/2020 Mark DePue

Picking up a good book and getting engrossed in the plot, characters, and storytelling is among the pleasurable pastimes many of us are embracing to help us through these uncertain times. This week's "Historian Corner" asks our Illinois State Oral Historian, Dr. Mark DePue, what books have been on his nightstand recently. Mark says, "My reading generally centers on upcoming presentations or interviews, and now is no different than what I would usually be reading."

Thanks to Dr. Mark DePue, Illinois' oral historian, for sharing his current reading list…

  • For the Iwo Jima & Okinawa presentation:
    • The Pacific War: 1941-1945 by John Costello – This provided a good general background for the presentation.
    • Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II by Robert Leckie – Just getting into Leckie's book, which is providing the level of detail I need for the presentation. I'm also always on the lookout for good quotes to incorporate with the presentation.
  • On an upcoming presentation to FBI managers on Lincoln's wartime leadership:
    • I recently finished Donald Phillips' Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times.  I read that while keeping in mind the U.S. Army's official Leadership Attributes as described in FM 22-100, Army Leadership.  Some interesting differences in the two, as you might imagine, such as Phillips' chapter entitled "Keep Searching Until You Find Your 'Grant'." But it's really not that different from several attributes listed in FM 22-100, which includes Judgment, Intelligence and Self-Control among many others. Certainly, Lincoln's application of those traits led him through his agonizing search for the right commander – one who would be willing to push through adversity while pursuing the ultimate victory.
  • And on an interview series I've just begun with Jim Nowlan, who has spent his life writing about Illinois politics, I've begun reading two books he's co-authored Illinois Politics: A Citizen's Guide and Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State.

It's worth noting that Dr. DePue's presentation on the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa set for April 2 was canceled, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We hope to reschedule this presentation later this year.

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