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Echoes of the past found in new book series

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

Looking at the political arena from recent months brings to mind the idea that the founding fathers had of having an educated citizenry. It is often difficult to keep up with the barrage of information available, but it behooves us to try to catch up and understand how situations became what they are, as well as understanding the history of certain countries or peoples.

To this end, the library has recently acquired a couple of wonderful series of books. These sets are specifically designed to appeal to young adults; however, they can be a terrific resource for everyone. Both series are located in the new book section.

The first series, “Cause & Effect In History,” examines particular events or conflicts — for example, the American Revolutionary War or the fall of Rome — giving a general overview of the events, but also analyzing the facts, giving examples and mixing primary and secondary documentation.

The “Cause and Effect: World War II” includes timelines, period photographs and sidebars which look at African Americans in the war, the Versailles Treaty, Pearl Harbor and the invasion of the Soviet Union.

It also looks at how World War II, the NATO action in Korea and the differences of the two allies, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, influenced the Cold War. Another book in the series looks at the Sept. 11 attacks and examines how the Afghan-Soviet War and other Middle East conflicts may have contributed to that fateful day.

The second set of books deals with “Major Nations of the Modern Middle East” including Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Understanding the Middle East is so important to the current political and military situation. For example, many Americans’ understanding of Iraq begins with the 2003 invasion of the international coalition, yet this area has a long and complicated history.

Once known as Mesopotamia and identified as “the cradle of civilization,” it has seen much — the Sumerian Empire, then the Assyrian, then the Persians controlled it, only to fall to Alexander the Great. By 1530, the Ottomans controlled this area and did so until after the First World War when the country of Iraq was actually formed under the Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

The British hand picked the ruling monarch from the Saudi Hashemite family despite the opposition of the Iraqi Shi’i and Kurds. The book “Iraq” goes on to describe the history of the people, the religious, political and economic concerns, the significant communities and customs and their foreign relations.

It is a solid but succinct overview of the salient points of a country’s history and the effects on today’s global state of affairs. Each book in the series gives similar information and lends itself to understanding the entire region and its complex interactions.

Rowan Public Library annual book sale: Friday, May 6; Saturday, May 7, and Monday, May 9, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., headquarters. There will be a large selection of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books available for purchase. Come find a great bargain in withdrawn library books, DVDs, CDs and more. Items priced $2 or less.

Summer reading registration: Begins May 16, all locations. On Your Mark, Get Set, READ! Registered participants may log reading hours June 12 through Aug. 6 to earn prizes, complete weekly book reviews to enter weekly program raffles, and attend special weekly reading programs for their age group. Registration is free and can be done at any library location or online.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, May 31, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “The Book Thief,by Markus Zusak. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Genealogy Class: Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-noon, headquarters. Co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the History Room, this class will explore the different types of records used in genealogical research and the information that can be gleaned from them.

Learn.Act.Grow.: May 23, 5:30-7 p.m., East branch, Rockwell. Learn how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables by canning, freezing or dehydrating. Local experts will discuss how to choose freezer-friendly foods, how to know when to keep and when to toss, and techniques for preserving. Participants with their own dial-gauge canners may bring the lid for Toi Degree, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Agent, to test for safety.  Register online or by calling 704-216-7734 to ensure your spot.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on the library’s teen programming and book selection and discuss current events and issues in Rowan County. TAB meets once a month at each library location from 4:30-5:30 p.m. May 3, headquarters.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly book club for teens ages 14-17 primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at Yosties, 202 N. Main St, Faith, Tuesdays, 4 p.m., through May 24.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children ages 7 to 9 can practice reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Reading Therapy dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations are recommended but not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m. East, Mondays, 3:30 p.m., May 9 and 23.

Displays: Headquarters, Washington Day, celebrating Saturday, May 21 and photos from Spring photowalk; South, student art, South Rowan High School; East, kick-off display for Children’s Summer Reading Program – On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

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