Great Lakes reading for the holidays

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Image: Mel Poole, Unsplash

By Eric Freedman

If you’re searching for a recent Great Lakes-themed book as a holiday gift, here are some prospects that Great Lakes Echo has written about in 2021, including interviews with their authors. They’re listed in alphabetical order by title.

The Artisan Herbalist by Bevin Cohen is available for $24.99 online and in bookstores.

The Artisan Herbalist by Bevin Cohen

This book by a Sanford, Michigan, writer is a comprehensive guide to at-home herbalism for beginners through experienced herbalists.

What the author says: “Just choose a plant and learn about it. Start small. Even when we look at our spice racks, we have so many herbs available to us right inside of our houses already.”

Available from Small House Farm ($24.99).

A Backyard Prairie: The Hidden Beauty of Tallgrass and Wildflowers by Fred Delcomyn and James L Ellis

A Backyard Prairie. The Hidden Beauty of Tallgrass and Wildflowers. (Southern Illinois University Press)

The authors document their journey to convert Illinois farmland to tallgrass prairie and to create a yard that travels back to a time before the wild prairie was plowed and planted in rows of corn and other crops.

What the authors say: “The trend towards using native plants in your garden, of even having a wild or semi-wild stretch of our little plot on your grounds instead of a manicured lawn, is all a step in the right direction.”

Available from Southern Illinois University Press ($24.50).

Declaring Disaster: Buffalo’s Blizzard of ‘77 and the Creation of FEMA

Declaring Disaster: Buffalo’s Blizzard of ’77 and the Creation of FEMA by Timothy Kneeland

The Great Lakes’ snow belt brought havoc to Buffalo, New York, in January 1977. It was the first snowstorm to receive a federal emergency disaster declaration. The author documents the experience and its impact on public policy.

What the author says: “I hope people walk away going, ‘Holy cow, presidents really manipulate disaster declarations to help get votes. You should be aware that there is a kind of gerrymandered electoral politics in terms of who gets a disaster declaration and who doesn’t.”

Available from Syracuse University Press ($24.95).

Cover of “The Founding Mothers of Mackinac Island: The Agatha Biddle Band of 1870.” Image: Michigan State University Press

The Founding Mothers of Mackinac Island: The Agatha Biddle Band of 1870 by Theresa L. Weller

This is a history of a highly unusual band of predominantly Native American women who lived on Michigan’s Mackinac Island and got together because the U.S. government owed them annuity payments for land given up in an 1836 treaty.

What the author says: “Who were these women? Where did they come from? What was their lives like?”

Available from Michigan State University Press ($32.95).

The cover of “A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson.” Image: University of Minnesota Press

A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson, edited by David Backes

These journals provide insights into how Sigurd Olson, a Minnesota naturalist, became one of the most influential American conservationists and wilderness advocates of the mid-20th century.

What the editor says: “His main message was that the wilderness, natural places, are important to the human spirit. And he wanted to preserve that.”

Available from University of Minnesota Press ($29.95).

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