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A New Look at Old Stories: Moments in American History -The Exchange


This week on The Exchange, as we commemorate Independence Day, we take a fresh look at some familiar stories in American history.  We talk with the author of a new book about the rise of President George Washington.  David O. Stewart says the first president, despite being a privileged white man in 18th century society, worked hard and used his ability to overcome the elements and forge alliances with political opponents.  He also wrestled with the problem of slavery, and how to set free the enslaved people on his plantations. 

Also, we talk with Michelle Commander, a researcher and writer, who has edited a new volume of slave narratives that goes beyond the previous versions.  Commander focuses on the stories of both enslaved African Americans and those who were free, who worked to end slavery in America.

But first, why everything you thought you knew about the Alamo may be wrong.  Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth, tells the true story behind the battle of the Alamo and the men who fought there. The three authors are all from Texas.  They are Bryan Borrough, Jason Stanford and Chris Tomlinson. I spoke with Chris Tomlinson about the myth of the Alamo, how it developed and what the true events at the Alamo still resonate today in America. 

Author Chris Tomlinson, courtesy of christomlinson.net

There have been hundreds of books written about the US President George Washington.  Many of them laud the Virginia planter and surveyor as a champion of liberty, and others see the disconnect between the goals of the revolutionary fighter and his wealth embodied in his ownership of enslaved people. David O. Stewart is known for his books about the founding of America, including The Men who Created the Consitution: The Summer of 1787 and Madison's Gift: The Partnerships that Built America.  In his new book, George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father, Stewart devles into the personal traits that helped Washington rise in 18th century society, despite being a younger son of a family that had sunk into genteel poverty. 

David O. Stewart, author of George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father

Author David O. Stewart, Geroge Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father

George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father

Slavery has left its mark on America and yet the stories of African Americans who worked to end slavery are rarely told. Researcher and author Michelle D. Commander is the editory of a new collection that tells their stories. Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery and Aboliton contains first-person stories of slavery and vivid descriptions of the works of black freedom fighters. I spoke with Michelle D. Commander about the book. 

Michelle D. Commander, editor of Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery and Abolition

Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery and Abolition edited by Michelle D. Commander

Saturday In The Park is once again set for the 4th of July weekend.  This is year the celebration is a two-day event. Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer reported on SITP two years ago, before the the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Saturday In The Park with Sheila Brummer

John Fogerty, a headliner at this year's Saturday In The Park

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