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|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, How the Post Office Created America examines the surprising role of the postal service in our nation’s political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time, it was the U.S. government’s largest and most important endeavor—indeed, it was the government for most citizens. This was no conventional mail network but the central nervous system of the new body politic, designed to bind thirteen quarrelsome colonies into the United States by delivering news about public affairs to every citizen—a radical idea that appalled Europe’s great powers. America’s uniquely democratic post powerfully shaped its lively, argumentative culture of uncensored ideas and opinions and made it the world’s information and communications superpower with astonishing speed. Winifred Gallagher presents the history of the post office as America’s own story, told from a fresh perspective over more than two centuries. The mandate to deliver the mail—then “the media”—imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape of post roads and villages centered on post offices. The post was the catalyst of the nation’s transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It enabled America to shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and to develop the publishing industry, the consumer culture, and the political party system. Still one of the country’s two major civilian employers, the post was the first to hire women, African Americans, and other minorities for positions in public life. Starved by two world wars and the Great Depression, confronted with the country’s increasingly anti-institutional mind-set, and struggling with its doubled mail volume, the post stumbled badly in the turbulent 1960s. Distracted by the ensuing modernization of its traditional services, however, it failed to transition from paper mail to email, which prescient observers saw as its logical next step. Now the post office is at a crossroads. Before deciding its future, Americans should understand what this grand yet overlooked institution has accomplished since 1775 and consider what it should and could contribute in the twenty-first century. Gallagher argues that now, more than ever before, the imperiled post office deserves this effort, because just as the founders anticipated, it created forward-looking, communication-oriented, idea-driven America.
|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
Discover the surprising role of the postal service in our nation's political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time it represented the government for most citizens. The post became the catalyst of the nation's transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Gallagher traces its origins and leaders and describes its role in every major event in American history, from the Revolutionary War to the dawn of the Internet age.
|Author||: Devin Leonard|
|Editor||: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic|
“[The] book makes you care what happens to its main protagonist, the U.S. Postal Service itself. And, as such, it leaves you at the end in suspense.” —USA Today Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the United States Postal Service was the information network that bound far-flung Americans together, and yet, it is slowly vanishing. Critics say it is slow and archaic. Mail volume is down. The workforce is shrinking. Post offices are closing. In Neither Snow Nor Rain, journalist Devin Leonard tackles the fascinating, centuries-long history of the USPS, from the first letter carriers through Franklin’s days, when postmasters worked out of their homes and post roads cut new paths through the wilderness. Under Andrew Jackson, the post office was molded into a vast patronage machine, and by the 1870s, over seventy percent of federal employees were postal workers. As the country boomed, USPS aggressively developed new technology, from mobile post offices on railroads and airmail service to mechanical sorting machines and optical character readers. Neither Snow Nor Rain is a rich, multifaceted history, full of remarkable characters, from the stamp-collecting FDR, to the revolutionaries who challenged USPS’s monopoly on mail, to the renegade union members who brought the system—and the country—to a halt in the 1970s. “Delectably readable . . . Leonard’s account offers surprises on almost every other page . . . [and] delivers both the triumphs and travails with clarity, wit and heart.” —Chicago Tribune
|Author||: Philip F. Rubio|
|Editor||: Univ of North Carolina Press|
This book brings to life the important but neglected story of African American postal workers and the critical role they played in the U.S. labor and black freedom movements. Historian Philip Rubio, a former postal worker, integrates civil rights, labor, and left movement histories that too often are written as if they happened separately. Centered on New York City and Washington, D.C., the book chronicles a struggle of national significance through its examination of the post office, a workplace with facilities and unions serving every city and town in the United States. Black postal workers--often college-educated military veterans--fought their way into postal positions and unions and became a critical force for social change. They combined black labor protest and civic traditions to construct a civil rights unionism at the post office. They were a major factor in the 1970 nationwide postal wildcat strike, which resulted in full collective bargaining rights for the major postal unions under the newly established U.S. Postal Service in 1971. In making the fight for equality primary, African American postal workers were influential in shaping today's post office and postal unions.
|Author||: Richard R. JOHN,Richard R John|
|Editor||: Harvard University Press|
In the seven decades from its establishment in 1775 to the commercialization of the electric telegraph in 1844, the American postal system spurred a communications revolution no less far-reaching than the subsequent revolutions associated with the telegraph, telephone, and computer. This book tells the story of that revolution and the challenge it posed for American business, politics, and cultural life. During the early republic, the postal system was widely hailed as one of the most important institutions of the day. No other institution had the capacity to transmit such a large volume of information on a regular basis over such an enormous geographical expanse. The stagecoaches and postriders who conveyed the mail were virtually synonymous with speed. In the United States, the unimpeded transmission of information has long been hailed as a positive good. In few other countries has informational mobility been such a cherished ideal. Richard John shows how postal policy can help explain this state of affairs. He discusses its influence on the development of such information-intensive institutions as the national market, the voluntary association, and the mass party. He traces its consequences for ordinary Americans, including women, blacks, and the poor. In a broader sense, he shows how the postal system worked to create a national society out of a loose union of confederated states. This exploration of the role of the postal system in American public life provides a fresh perspective not only on an important but neglected chapter in American history, but also on the origins of some of the most distinctive features of American life today. Table of Contents: Preface Acknowledgments The Postal System as an Agent of Change The Communications Revolution Completing the Network The Imagined Community The Invasion of the Sacred The Wellspring of Democracy The Interdiction of Dissent Conclusion Abbreviations Notes Sources Index Reviews of this book: "[A] splendid new book...that gives the lie to any notion that 'government' and 'administration' were 'absent' in early America." DD--Theda Skocpol, Social Science History "This well-researched and elegantly written book will become a model for historians attempting to link public policy to cultural and political change...[It] will engage not only historians of the early republic, but all scholars interested in the relationship between state and society." DD--John Majewski, Journal of Economic History "The strength of the book is...the author's ability to untangle the thousands of social, political, economic, and cultural threads of the postal fabric and to rearrange them into a clear and compelling social history." DD--Roy Alden Atwood, Journal of American History "Richard R. John provides an insightful cultural history of the often-overlooked American postal system, concentrating on its preeminent status for long-distance communication between its birth in 1775 and the commercialization of the electric telegraph in 1844...John effectively draws upon government documents, newspapers, travelogues, and contemporary social and political histories to argue that the postal system causes and mirrors dramatic changes in American public life during this period...John focuses his study on the communication revolution of the past, yet his meticulous analysis of the complex motives forming the postal institution and its policies relate to such current controversies as those that surround the transmission of information in cyberspace. These contemporary disputes highlight the power of the government in shaping the communication of the people. John privileges the postal institution as the reigning communication system, yet he links it with the developing ideology of the nation, and the scope of his study ensures its value--in the disciplines of communication studies, literature, history, and political science, among others--as a history of the past and present." DD--Sarah R. Marino, Canadian Review of American Studies "Spreading the News exemplifies the kind of sophisticated and nuanced research that US postal history has long needed. Richard R. John breaks from the internalist, antiquarian tradition characteristic of so many post office histories to place the postal system at the centre of American national development." DD--Richard B. Kielbowicz, Business History "[John] presents a thoroughly researched and well-written book...[which will give] insight into the history of the post office and its impact on American life." DD--Library Journal "It is surely true that in Richard John the post has had the good fortune to have found its proper historian, one capable of appreciating the complex design and social importance of the means a people use to distribute information. He has also accomplished the impressive feat of gathering together the pieces of a postal history present elsewhere as so many tiny fragments. John has drawn into a coherent design the stories of postal patronage, the decisions about postal privacy, the incidents along post roads used by others as illustrative anecdotes. John's work has inspired in him a deep appreciation for the accomplishments of the post." DD--Ann Fabian, The Yale Review "John's book explains how the letters and newspapers sent through the post were really the glue that held the early 13 states together and that embraced additional states as the nation expanded westward...It is a splendid attempt to show the importance of mail service in the years before the telegraph or the telephone made at least brief news transmission possible. The postal system of the 19th century really was a factor, perhaps the major factor, in making the United States one nation." DD--Richard B. Graham, Linn's Stamp News "This book traces the central role of the postal system in [its] communications revolution and its contribution to American public life. The author shows how the postal system influenced the establishment of a national society out of a loose union of confederated states. Richard John throws light onto a chapter in American history that is often neglected but sets up the origins of some of the most distinctive features of American life today...The book is a comprehensive study on an important American institution during a critical epoch in its history." DD--Monika Plum, Prometheus [UK] "John has produced an original, well-documented, and thoughtful study that offers alternative and enticing interpretations of Jacksonian policies and public institutions." DD--Choice
|Author||: Charles Bukowski|
|Editor||: Harper Collins|
"It began as a mistake." By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.
|Author||: Christopher W. Shaw|
Christopher Shaw, the book's author said, "Through preferential postage rates for nonprofits the Postal Service facilitates civic involvement and a healthy democracy." Nader also noted, "Postal employees are fairly remunerated in an increasingly low-wage, low benefit 'Wal-Mart' economy." According to Nader, "Post offices serve as the heart of community life in neighborhoods and towns nationwide and the presence of postal workers on community streets make them safer, as the many beneficiaries of their frequently heroic efforts attest." "The lack of citizen-consumers' involvement in the recently passed postal reform legislation has highlighted the need for a public dialogue about the future of our postal system. The book provides a starting point for that conversation," stated Nader.
|Author||: Bill Bryson|
|Editor||: Anchor Canada|
When an old friend asked him to write a weekly dispatch from New Hampshire for the Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine, Bill Bryson firmly turned him down. So firm was he, in fact, that gathered here are nineteen months' worth of his popular columns about the strangest of phenomena -- the American way of life.Whether discussing the dazzling efficiency of the garbage disposal unit, the mind-boggling plethora of methods by which to shop, the exoticism of having your groceries bagged for you, or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on the world's richest and craziest country.
|Author||: Vigdis Hjorth|
|Editor||: Verso Books|
Winner of the 2020 Believer Book Award for Fiction "A brilliant study of the mundane, full of unexpected detours and driving prose. Hjorth's novel ingeniously orbits the intimate stories that are possible only when a character has put words on paper and sent them through the post." – New York Times Book Review, “The Best Post Office Novel You Will Read Before the Election” "Vigdis Hjorth is one of my favorite contemporary writers." – Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be? From the author of the 2019 National Book Award Longlisted Will and Testament Ellinor, a 35-year-old media consultant, has not been feeling herself; she's not been feeling much at all lately. Far beyond jaded, she picks through an old diary and fails to recognise the woman in its pages, seemingly as far away from the world around her as she's ever been. But when her coworker vanishes overnight, an unusual new task is dropped on her desk. Off she goes to meet the Norwegian Postal Workers Union, setting the ball rolling on a strange and transformative six months. This is an existential scream of a novel about loneliness (and the postal service!), written in Vigdis Hjorth's trademark spare, rhythmic and cutting style.
|Author||: David M. Henkin|
|Editor||: University of Chicago Press|
Americans commonly recognize television, e-mail, and instant messaging as agents of pervasive cultural change. But many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary. As David M. Henkin argues in The Postal Age, a burgeoning postal network initiated major cultural shifts during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our ever-evolving world of telecommunications. This fascinating history traces these shifts from their beginnings in the mid-1800s, when cheaper postage, mass literacy, and migration combined to make the long-established postal service a more integral and viable part of everyday life. With such dramatic events as the Civil War and the gold rush underscoring the importance and necessity of the post, a surprisingly broad range of Americans—male and female, black and white, native-born and immigrant—joined this postal network, regularly interacting with distant locales before the existence of telephones or even the widespread use of telegraphy. Drawing on original letters and diaries from the period, as well as public discussions of the expanding postal system, Henkin tells the story of how these Americans adjusted to a new world of long-distance correspondence, crowded post offices, junk mail, valentines, and dead letters. The Postal Age paints a vibrant picture of a society where possibilities proliferated for the kinds of personal and impersonal communications that we often associate with more recent historical periods. In doing so, it significantly increases our understanding of both antebellum America and our own chapter in the history of communications.
|Author||: Mehrsa Baradaran|
|Editor||: Harvard University Press|
The United States has two separate banking systems today—one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities—all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later. “Baradaran argues persuasively that the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal...How the Other Half Banks is well researched and clearly written...The bankers who fully understand the system are heavily invested in it. Books like this are written for the rest of us.” —Nancy Folbre, New York Times Book Review “How the Other Half Banks tells an important story, one in which we have allowed the profit motives of banks to trump the public interest.” —Lisa J. Servon, American Prospect
|Author||: Chris West|
DISCOVER THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF AMERICA THROUGH ITS BEAUTIFUL AND DIVERSE POSTAGE STAMPS IN THIS EXUBERANT AND ALWAYS CHARMING HISTORY. In A History of America in Thirty-six Postage Stamps, Chris West explores America's own rich philatelic history. From George Washington's dour gaze to the charging buffalo of the western frontier and Lindbergh's soaring biplane, American stamps are a vivid window into our country's extraordinary and distinctive past. With the always accessible and spirited West as your guide, discover the remarkable breadth of America's short history through a fresh lens. On their own, stamps can be curiosities, even artistic marvels; in this book, stamps become a window into the larger sweep of history.
|Author||: K. Amy Phillips,Steven R. Bolduc,Kevin Carvell|
"Save our post office!" This was the plea when the USPS determined to restructure or close post offices across the United States, including 76 locations in North Dakota. In response, authors Amy Phillips and Steven Bolduc set out to explore the contemporary role of post offices in North Dakota and document an essential institution. Includes a history of northern Dakota Territory and North Dakota rural postal services by Kevin Carvell and 100+ color photos by Wayne Gudmundson.
|Author||: Eric Steven Yellin|
|Editor||: UNC Press Books|
The Emancipation Proclamation, widely remembered as the heroic act that ended slavery, in fact freed slaves only in states in the rebellious South. True emancipation was accomplished over a longer period and by several means. Essays by eight distinguished contributors consider aspects of the president's decision making, as well as events beyond Washington, offering new insights on the consequences and legacies of freedom, the engagement of black Americans in their liberation, and the issues of citizenship and rights that were not decided by Lincoln's document. The essays portray emancipation as a product of many hands, best understood by considering all the actors, the place, and the time.
|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
Why are we attuned to the latest headline, diet craze, smartphone, fashion statement? Why do we relish a change of scene, eye attractive strangers, develop new interests? How did Homo sapiens survive near-extinction during an environmental crisis 80,000 years ago, while close cousins very like us have died out? Why is your characteristic reaction to novelty and change the key to your whole personality? Why do we enjoy inexpensive pleasures, like fresh flowers or great chocolate, more than costly comforts, like cars or appliances? How can a species genetically geared to engage with novelty cope in a world that increasingly bombards us with it? Follow a crawling baby around and you’ll see that right from the beginning, nothing excites us more than something new and different. Our unique human brains are biologically primed to engage with and even generate novelty, from our ancestors’ first bow and arrow to the latest tablet computer. This “neophilia” has enabled us to thrive in a world of cataclysmic change, but now, we confront an unprecedented deluge of new things, from products to information, which has quadrupled in the past 30 years and shows no sign of slowing. To prevent our great strength from becoming a weakness in today’s fast-paced world, we must re-connect with neophilia’s grand evolutionary purpose: to help us learn, create, and adapt to new things that have real value and dismiss the rest as distractions. In New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change, Winifred Gallagher, acclaimed behavioral science writer and author of Rapt, takes us to the cutting-edge laboratories and ancient archeological sites where scientists explore our special affinity for novelty and change. Although no other species can rival our capacity to explore and experiment with the new, we individuals vary in how we balance the conflicting needs to avoid risk and approach rewards. Most of us are moderate “neophiles,” but some 15 per cent of us are die-hard “neophiliacs,” who have an innate passion for new experiences, and another 15 per cent are cautious “neophobes,” who try to steer clear of them—a 1-5-1 ratio that benefits the group’s well-being. Wherever you sit on the continuum, New shows you how to use this special human gift to navigate more skillfully through our rapidly changing world by focusing on the new things that really matter.
|Author||: Garrett M. Graff|
|Editor||: Simon and Schuster|
The shocking truth about the government’s secret plans to survive a catastrophic attack on US soil—even if the rest of us die—is “a frightening eye-opener” (Kirkus Reviews) that spans the dawn of the nuclear age to today, and "contains everything one could possibly want to know" (The Wall Street Journal). Every day in Washington, DC, the blue-and-gold first Helicopter Squadron, codenamed “MUSSEL,” flies over the Potomac River. As obvious as the Presidential motorcade, most people assume the squadron is a travel perk for VIPs. They’re only half right: while the helicopters do provide transport, the unit exists to evacuate high-ranking officials in the event of a terrorist or nuclear attack on the capital. In the event of an attack, select officials would be whisked by helicopters to a ring of secret bunkers around Washington, even as ordinary citizens were left to fend for themselves. “In exploring the incredible lengths (and depths) that successive administrations have gone to in planning for the aftermath of a nuclear assault, Graff deftly weaves a tale of secrecy and paranoia” (The New York Times Book Review) with details "that read like they've been ripped from the pages of a pulp spy novel" (Vice). For more than sixty years, the US government has been developing secret Doomsday strategies to protect itself, and the multibillion-dollar Continuity of Government (COG) program takes numerous forms—from its potential to evacuate the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to the plans to launch nuclear missiles from a Boeing-747 jet flying high over Nebraska. Garrett M. Graff sheds light on the inner workings of the 650-acre compound, called Raven Rock, just miles from Camp David, as well as dozens of other bunkers the government built for its top leaders during the Cold War, from the White House lawn to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado to Palm Beach, Florida, and the secret plans that would have kicked in after a Cold War nuclear attack to round up foreigners and dissidents and nationalize industries. Equal parts a presidential, military, and cultural history, Raven Rock tracks the evolution of the government plan and the threats of global war from the dawn of the nuclear era through the War on Terror.
|Author||: Richard Burket Kielbowicz|
This work charts the relationship between the press and post office from colonial times through the Civil War. The book shows that the federal governemnt in the 1790s underwrote the circulation of printed matter and how the postal policy governing public information led to a cultural clash between the North and South that was partly a barometer of the tension that led to the Civil War. News in the Mail not only looks at the government's role in disseminating news and promoting communication, but also examines the structure and implications of this country's early communication system.
|Author||: Winifred Gallagher|
A revolutionary look at how what we pay attention to determines how we experience life Acclaimed behavioral science writer Winifred Gallagher's Rapt makes the radical argument that much of the quality of your life depends not on fame or fortune, beauty or brains, fate or coincidence, but on what you choose to pay attention to. Rapt introduces a diverse cast of characters, from researchers to artists to ranchers, to illustrate the art of living the interested life. As their stories show, by focusing on the most positive and productive elements of any situation, you can shape your inner experience and expand your world. By learning to focus, you can improve your concentration, broaden your inner horizons, and most important, feel what it means to be fully alive.
|Author||: Philip F. Rubio|
|Editor||: UNC Press Books|
For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal "wildcat" strike--the largest in United States history--for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines started in New York and spread across the country like wildfire. Strikers defied court injunctions, threats of termination, and their own union leaders. In the negotiated aftermath, the U.S. Post Office became the U.S. Postal Service, and postal workers received full collective bargaining rights and wage increases, all the while continuing to fight for greater democracy within their unions. Using archives, periodicals, and oral histories, Philip Rubio shows how this strike, born of frustration and rising expectations and emerging as part of a larger 1960s-1970s global rank-and-file labor upsurge, transformed the post office and postal unions. It also led to fifty years of clashes between postal unions and management over wages, speedup, privatization, automation, and service. Rubio revives the 1970 strike story and connects it to today's postal financial crisis that threatens the future of a vital 245-year-old public communications institution and its labor unions.