Tuesday, January 31, 2023

One mid-week event for a book about the Midwest: Jon K Lauck, at Boswell for The Good Country

Starting this week, our event blog posts have relocated to our Boswellians blog. Hello, Boswellians readers! 

Wednesday, February 1, 6:30 pm -
Jon K Lauck, author of The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800-1900
at Boswell, in conversation with Bill Glauber.
 Click here to register

Boswell hosts former Midwestern History Association president Jon K Lauck for an evening in which we’ll celebrate our region with his new book, The Good Country, a first-ever chronicle of the Midwest’s formative century which restores the American heartland to its central place in the nation’s history.

At the center of American history is a hole - a gap where some scholars’ indifference or disdain has too long stood in for the true story of the American Midwest. Lauck, the premier Midwest historian, puts Midwestern 'squares' center stage - an unorthodox approach that leads to surprising conclusions. The American Midwest, in Lauck’s cogent account, was the most democratically advanced place in the world during the nineteenth century, and The Good Country describes a rich civic culture that prized education, literature, libraries, and the arts, and generally put democratic ideals into practice to a greater extent than any nation to date.

In a trying time of contested politics and culture, Lauck locates a middle ground, fittingly, in the center of the country. The Washington Post calls the book "well-researched and provocative," and author Gregory L. Schneider says: "I know of no historian who has done such a superb job chronicling and framing the history of the American Midwest than Jon Lauck." AP News also published a review of the book, which you can read here. Apparently Lauck "developed the book out of his own search for a comprehensive history of the region to teach in his classes at the University of South Dakota. He discovered that while scholarship dedicated to the American South and West was flourishing, historical study of the Midwest had long been neglected." His hard work is our gain! 

From Bill Glauber's profile in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when asked about Midwest stereotypes: "The stereotype that's most offensive is that nothing happens here so we can just ignore this region. The Midwest was the biggest region in the country at the end of the 1800s. It's where all the manufacturing took place. It's where we grew our food. And it helped shaped early America and helped win the Civil War. And these are things we forget and that we neglect and people on the coasts aren't going to look out for us, so we need to do it."

Jon K. Lauck has authored and edited several books, including The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern HistoryFinding a New Midwestern History, and three volumes of The Plains Political Tradition. He teaches history and political science at the University of South Dakota and is Editor-in-Chief of Middle West Review.

Photo credit: Jon Lauck by Mike Barry

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