Weekly Reads: America, 1908

Cover of America, 1908
Emily Dickinson // The Watchdog

“The America in which the following stories occurred will be, in scattered glimpses, familiar to readers of 2008; if we squint, we might even mistake it for our own.”

— Jim Rasenberger, “America, 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T and the Making of a Modern Nation”

A lot happened in America during the year 1908. The year started off with a bang as the first ball drop commenced in New York City in celebration of the coming year. The Wright brothers invented the first type of flying machine and by year’s end, Wilbur Wright flew for a record two hours and 20 minutes. The Wright brothers also brought up the first passenger to ever fly in an airplane. The around-the-world automobile race from New York to Paris occurred. Following the race, Henry Ford invented the Model T, a car intended to be affordable and durable for all. Robert Peary raced towards the North Pole, destined to be the first to find it, and Teddy Roosevelt sent out the Great White Fleet of Navy battleships to circumnavigate the world.

This isn’t your typical history book. Filled with interesting facts and stories, “America, 1908” will not disappoint. 1908 was a historically educational year as discoveries were made and relations were recognized. The Springfield, Illinois race war broke out, an event that was substantial to all. As a result, African Americans were mobbed, lynched, beaten and murdered, making the relations of race crystal clear. Another significant event was the Harry Thaw and Stanford White case. This occurred in 1906, but the book explains Evelyn Nesbit’s take. You will have to read the book to understand what the case was about, but Nesbit was one of the first women to openly talk about sex. This, especially in the Victorian era, was largely significant.

With new stories on every page, I would highly recommend this book. In order for us to face the future, we have to know our nation’s past.