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12 books about Connecticut [sort by author]      

Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon
Edited by George S. Burkhardt
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

In 1861 at the age of eighteen, Edward Woolsey Bacon, a Yale student and son of well-known abolitionist minister Leonard Bacon, left his home in New Haven, Connecticut, to fight for the United States. Over the next four years Bacon served in both the Union navy and army, which gave him a sweeping view of the Civil War. His postings included being a captain’s clerk on the USS Iroquois, a hospital clerk in his hometown, a captain in the 29th Connecticut Infantry (Colored), and a major in the 117th U.S. Colored Infantry, and he described these experiences in vibrant letters to his friends and family. Historian George S. Burkhardt has compiled these letters, as well as Bacon’s diary in the impressive Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon.

Bacon tells of hunting Confederate commerce raiders on the high seas, enduring the tedium of blockade duty, and taking part in riverine warfare on the Mississippi. He recalls sweating in South Carolina as an infantry officer during drill and picket duty, suffering constant danger in the battlefield trenches of Virginia, marching victoriously on fallen Richmond, and tolerating the boredom of occupation duty in Texas.

His highly entertaining letters shed new light on naval affairs and reveal a close-knit family life. The narrative of his duty with black troops is especially valuable, since few first-hand accounts from white officers of the U.S. Colored Troops exist. Furthermore, his beliefs about race, slavery, and the Union cause were unconventional for the time and stand in contrast to those held by many of his contemporaries.

            Double Duty in the Civil War is filled with lively descriptions of the men Bacon met and the events he experienced. With Burkhardt’s careful editing and useful annotations, Bacon’s letters and diary excerpts give rare insight into areas of the Civil War that have been neglected because of a lack of available sources. Given the scarcity of eyewitness testimonies to navy life and life in African American regiments, this book is a rarity indeed.

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High-Stakes Reform: The Politics of Educational Accountability
Kathryn A. McDermott
Georgetown University Press, 2011

Performance accountability has been the dominant trend in education policy reform since the 1970s. State and federal policies set standards for what students should learn; require students to take "high-stakes" tests to measure what they have learned; and then hold students, schools, and school districts accountable for their performance. The goal of these policies is to push public school districts to ensure that all students reach a common threshold of knowledge and skills.

High-Stakes Reform analyzes the political processes and historical context that led to the enactment of state-level education accountability policies across the country. It also situates the education accountability movement in the broader context of public administration research, emphasizing the relationships among equity, accountability, and intergovernmental relations. The book then focuses on three in-depth case studies of policy development in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Kathryn McDermott zeroes in on the most controversial and politically charged forms of state performance accountability sanctions, including graduation tests, direct state intervention in or closing of schools, and state takeovers of school districts.

Public debate casts performance accountability as either a cure for the problems of US public education or a destructive mistake. Kathryn McDermott expertly navigates both sides of the debate detailing why particular policies became popular, how the assumptions behind the policies influenced the forms they took, and what practitioners and scholars can learn from the successes and failures of education accountability policies.

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Identity And Power: Puerto Rican Politics and the Challenge of Ethnicity
José E. Cruz
Temple University Press, 1998

On the surface, identity politics appears to promote polarization. To the contrary, political scientist Jose E. Cruz argues that, instead, fragmentation and instability are more likely to occur only when the differences are ignored and nonethnic strategies are employed. Cruz illustrates his claim by focusing on one group of Puerto Ricans and how they mobilized to demand accountability from political leaders in Hartford, Connecticut.

The activities of the Puerto Rican Political Action Committee from 1983 to 1991 illustrate the power of ethnic mobilization and strategy in an urban setting. Cruz examines their insistence on their right to be included in the political process in the context of both a typical mid-sized American city and the unique attributes of Hartford's predominantly white-collar population. At the same time, this study acknowledges the limitations of the exercise of such power in the political process.

Through extensive interviews Cruz brings to light the variety of ways in which politicians and political activists themselves view their own activities and achievements. This group of Puerto Rican activists attempted to penetrate the power structure of Hartford. Though their success was limited, their work constitutes a springboard for further change.
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Legendary Connecticut: Traditional Tales from the Nutmeg State
David E. Philips
Northwestern University Press, 1992

From Litchfield's great church stove war to Hartford's Charter Oak to Stonington's infamous Lantern Hill, these traditional tales from the Nutmeg State span four centuries of Connecticut history. Personal legends, narratives, anecdotes, and supernatural stories--all are fascinating, humorous and rich with the history and lore of the land.
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Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven
Mandi Isaacs Jackson
Temple University Press, 2008

Model City Blues tells the story of how regular people, facing a changing city landscape, fought for their own model of the “ideal city” by creating grassroots plans for urban renewal. Filled with vivid descriptions of significant moments in a protracted struggle, it offers a street-level account of organized resistance to institutional plans to transform New Haven, Connecticut in the 1960s. Anchored in the physical spaces and political struggles of the city, it brings back to center stage the individuals and groups who demanded that their voices be heard.

By reexamining the converging class- and race-based movements of 1960s New Haven, Mandi Jackson helps to explain the city's present-day economic and political struggles. More broadly, by closely analyzing particular sites of resistance in New Haven, Model City Blues employs multiple academic disciplines to redefine and reimagine the roles of everyday city spaces in building social movements and creating urban landscapes.

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A Moveable Shore: The Fate of the Connecticut Coast
Peter C. Patton
Duke University Press, 1992

The Connecticut shoreline is made up of varying landscapes--the sandy coastline at Madison, the rocky shore at Branford, the replenished beach at Greenwich, and the erosion at Old Saybrook. A Moveable Shore offers a general user’s guide to the Connecticut shore. In a town-by-town journey down the 254-mile coastline, Peter C. Patton and James M. Kent explore in detail the history of specific sites, the climatic and geological forces that shape the shore, and regulations regarding land-use development. In addition, they provide a guide to coastal field trips.
Beginning with the hurricane of 1938, the biggest natural disaster to strike Connecticut since its settlement by Europeans, the authors demonstrate the continuing pattern of development of coastal land prone to flooding and high winds. Although the Connecticut coast faces Long Island and Block Island sounds, it is subject to the same natural hazards, land-use risks, and regulations as opean ocean shorelines. Global climatic events--glaciation, global warming, and rising sea levels--influence the shape and composition of the Connecticut shoreline, as do small-scale forces such as wind, waves, and tides.
Patton and Kent seek to instill a respect for the force of natural events and provide a guide for lessening the dangers of construction and development. A practical question-and-answer chapter explains what homeowners need to know to meet land-use regulations along the coast. In a state where the entire population lives within 100 miles of the coast, this important book will serve as a citizens’ guide to living with the Connecticut shore and will be of interest to coastal residents, developers, geologists, policymakers, and vacationers.
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Narratives of Justice: Legislators' Beliefs about Distributive Fairness
Grant Reeher
University of Michigan Press, 1996

An intriguing look into the minds of legislators
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Organizing In Hard Times: Labor and Neighborhoods In Hartford
Louise B. Simmons
Temple University Press, 1994

In 1990, Hartford, Connecticut, ranked as the eight poorest city in the country by the census; the real estate market was severely depressed; downtown insurance companies were laying off and the retail department stores were closing; public services were strained; and demolition sites abandoned for lack of funds pockmarked the streets. Hartford's problems are typical of those experienced in numerous U.S. cities affected by a lingering recession.

The harsh economic times felt throughout the city's workplaces and neighborhoods precipitated the formation of grassroots alliances between labor and community organizations. Coming together to create new techniques, their work has national implications for the development of alternative strategies for stimulating economic recovery.

Louise B. Simmons, a former Hartford City Councilperson, offers an insider's view of these coalitions, focusing on three activist unions—rhe New England Health Care Employees Union, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees, and the United Auto Workers—and three community groups—Hartford Areas Rally Together, Organized North Easterners-Clay Hill and North End, and Asylum Hill Organizing Project. Her in-depth analysis illustrates these groups' successes and difficulties in working together toward a new vision of urban politics.



In the series Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni.
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Plea Bargaining: The Experiences of Prosecutors, Judges, and Defense Attorneys
Milton Heumann
University of Chicago Press, 1978

"That relatively few criminal cases in this country are resolved by full Perry Mason-style strials is fairly common knowledge. Most cases are settled by a guilty plea after some form of negotiation over the charge or sentence. But why? The standard explanation is case pressure: the enormous volume of criminal cases, to be processed with limited staff, time and resources. . . . But a large body of new empirical research now demands that we re-examine plea negotiation. Milton Heumann's book, Plea Bargaining, strongly and explicitly attacks the case-pressure argument and suggests an alternative explanation for plea bargaining based on the adaptation of attorneys and judges to the local criminal court. The book is a significant and welcome addition to the literature. Heumann's investigation of case pressure and plea negotiation demonstrates solid research and careful analysis."—Michigan Law Review
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Process is the Punishment, The: Handling Cases in a Lower Criminal Court
Malcolm M. Feeley
Russell Sage Foundation, 1992

It is conventional wisdom that there is a grave crisis in our criminal courts: the widespread reliance on plea-bargaining and the settlement of most cases with just a few seconds before the judge endanger the rights of defendants. Not so, says Malcolm Feeley in this provocative and original book. Basing his argument on intensive study of the lower criminal court system, Feeley demonstrates that the absence of formal “due process” is preferred by all of the court’s participants, and especially by defendants. Moreover, he argues, “it is not all clear that as a group defendants would be better off in a more ‘formal’ court system,” since the real costs to those accused of misdemeanors and lesser felonies are not the fines and prison sentences meted out by the court, but the costs incurred before the case even comes before the judge—lost wages from missed work, commissions to bail bondsmen, attorney’s fees, and wasted time. Therefore, the overriding interest of the accused is not to secure the formal trappings of the judicial process, but to minimize the time, and money, spent dealing with the court.

Focusing on New Haven, Connecticut’s, lower court, Feeley found that the defense and prosecution often agreed that the pre-trial process was sufficient to “teach the defendant a lesson.” In effect, Feeley demonstrates that the informal practices of the lower courts as they are presently constituted are more “just” than they are usually given credit for being.

“... a book that should be read by anyone who is interested in understanding how courts work and how the criminal sanction is administered in modern, complex societies.”— Barry Mahoney, Institute for Court Management, Denver

“It is grounded in a firm grasp of theory as well as thorough field research.”—Jack B. Weinstein, U.S. District Court Judge." a feature that has long been the hallmark of good American sociology: it recreates a believable world of real men and women.”—Paul Wiles, Law & Society Review.

"This book's findings are well worth the attention of the serious criminal justice student, and the analyses reveal a thoughtful, probing, and provocative intelligence....an important contribution to the debate on the role and limits of discretion in American criminal justice. It deserves to be read by all those who are interested in the outcome of the debate." —Jerome H. Skolnick, American Bar Foundation Research Journal

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Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture
Elizabeth Chin
University of Minnesota Press, 2001

An exposé of the realities facing poor black children in our consumer society. What does it mean to be young, poor, and black in our consumer culture? Are black children "brand-crazed consumer addicts" willing to kill each other over a pair of the latest Nike Air Jordans or Barbie backpack? In this first in-depth account of the consumer lives of poor and working-class black children, Elizabeth Chin enters the world of children living in hardship in order to understand the ways they learn to manage living poor in a wealthy society. In order to move beyond the stereotypical images of black children obsessed with status symbols, Elizabeth Chin spent two years interviewing poor children living in New Haven, Connecticut, about where and how they spend their money. An alternate image of the children emerges, one that puts practicality ahead of status in their purchasing decisions. On a twenty-dollar shopping spree with Chin, one boy has to choose between a walkie-talkie set and an X-Men figure. In one of the most painful moments of her research, Chin watches as Davy struggles with his decision. He finally takes the walkie-talkie set, a toy that might be shared with his younger brother. Through personal anecdotes and compelling stories ranging from topics such as Christmas and birthday gifts, shopping malls, Toys-R-Us, neighborhood convenience shops, school lunches, ethnically correct toys, and school supplies, Chin critically examines consumption as a medium through which social inequalities-most notably of race, class, and gender--are formed, experienced, imposed, and resisted. Along the way she acknowledges the profound constraints under which the poor and working class must struggle in their daily lives. "Elizabeth Chin's Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture has both vitality and immediacy, thanks to Natalia, Tionna, Asia, and the other pseudonymous children of Newhallville whose voices we hear. The book's purpose is well served, too, by an identifiable first-person narrator whose relationships with several of her 'subjects' grow close and affectionate. Chin's vignettes from life with the Newhallville kids are touching, funny, troubling, strange, and familiar." --Ruminator Review "Compelling. As a result of a multilevel perspective, the reader gets to see firsthand how these African-American children struggle each day with the inequality of their economic status. Not only is this book a primer for the uninitiated in ethnographic research, it also serves as a valuable tool for the seasoned reader interested in such participant-observer studies. Chin adds significantly to the literature of an understudied area--minority children as consumers." --MultiCultural Review Elizabeth Chin is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
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Unreasonable Doubt: Circumstantial Evidence and an Ordinary Murder in New Haven
Norma Thompson
University of Missouri Press, 2006

It was to all appearances an ordinary murder—many might have said that it was an open-and-shut case. But some jurors were not convinced, and the taint of reasonable doubt led one of them to question the very future of our legal system.
            For many Americans, the civic responsibility of jury duty might seem an inconvenience; for Norma Thompson, it was a unique opportunity to bring her expertise to bear on the state of trial procedures in America today. With a background in political science, literature, and the classics, Thompson served as jury foreman in a trial of an “ordinary” murder in New Haven, Connecticut. Deliberations were buffeted by crosswinds of common sense and strong emotion. The trial ended in a hung jury because of what Thompson calls the “unreasonable doubts” of two fellow jurors concerning circumstantial evidence in an age when DNA testing holds out the promise of irrefutable proof.
In a compelling tale of contrasting rhetoric, Thompson takes readers into the courtroom to hear a streetwise convict verbally sparring with the D.A., then brings us into the confines of the jury room to have us witness nervous chatter over the meaning of evidence. She also contrasts this ordinary murder with the concurrent brutal stabbing of a Yale student, a case that attracted considerably more police and media attention.
            Thompson argues that the indeterminate results of the trial are symptomatic of larger problems in the justice system and society and that the reluctance of most people today to be judgmental is damaging the criminal justice system. As an antidote, she suggests that great literary and historical texts can help us develop the capacity for prudential judgment. Gleaning insights from an imaginary jury of Tocqueville and Plato, Jane Austen and William Faulkner, among other writers and thinkers, Thompson shows how confrontation with the works of such authors can help model more proper habits of deliberation.
            Blending personal memoir, social analysis, and literary criticism, Unreasonable Doubt is a challenging book that deals squarely with the evasion of judgment in contemporary political, social, and legal affairs. Brimming with brilliant insights, it suggests that the foundations for thought and action in our time have been neglected as a result of the wall erected between the social sciences and the humanities and invites readers to consider jury duty in a new light. Through real-world drama and literary reflection, it shows us that there is more to politics than power—and more of value to be found in the humanities than we may have supposed.
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