Peter Wallenstein's Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History, rocks to rave reviews
March 28, 2007
Peter Wallenstein, professor of history at Virginia Tech, is the author of the newly released Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Pushing 500 pages in length with 84 images, it is the first modern history of Virginia authored by a historian.
"From Pocahontas to Patsy Cline, from William Byrd I to Harry Byrd Jr., Cradle of America brings to life four centuries of Virginia history," says James L. Roark, noted historian at Emory University.
"This book is going to change the minds of citizens and scholars alike," said Wallenstein, "Or at least challenge them as to what they've always thought was true about the past."
Named a History Book Club selection for May, Cradle of America has already been cited for its "crisp writing and innumerable fascinating stories" by Professor Roark. Robert C. Vaughan, president of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, calls it "a compelling, readable narrative of Virginia's complex place in the American story."
The book also represents a research-and-writing collaboration between a University Honors colloquium of undergraduates and a Virginia Tech professor. Wallenstein has encouraged and utilized undergraduate research for years, and this book takes his championing of undergraduate involvement in historical research even further.
"I've cited my students' work in various previous publications," said Wallenstein. "My undergraduates have presented their work at the annual conference of the Virginia Social Science Association and elsewhere, and some of it has even been published."
Wallenstein is the author or editor of seven previous books, mostly on the history of the U.S. South, including Blue Laws and Black Codes: Conflict, Courts, and Change in Twentieth-Century Virginia and Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Marriage, and Law--An American History. Wallenstein's next release entitled Higher Education and the Civil Rights Struggle: Black Southerners, White Supremacy, and College Campuses is slated for November.
Wallenstein participated in the Festival of the Book last weekend in Charlottesville, complete with a C-Span interview. There will be a Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching reception at Hillcrest Hall for Wallenstein's book, and the undergraduates who contributed to it, on Monday, April 2, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. He is also a plenary speaker at the Virginia Forum in Richmond on April 14.
Perhaps most pertinent, the book is getting rave reviews from advance readers, including public school teachers.
"Peter Wallenstein's book provides, for the first time, the backstory for virtually every significant person and event in the history of Virginia," said Wade Whitehead, fifth grade Virginia studies and science teacher at Crystal Spring School in Roanoke. "In an immensely enjoyable and astoundingly thorough effort, he has achieved what we teachers of Virginia history have sought for some time--a reference for teachers and students alike, which will drive explorations, conversations, and learning in classrooms all over the Commonwealth."
"The inclusion of the sidebars is excellent because they provide primary source material that accompanies the stories in the text," noted Justin Halterman, world history teacher at Salem High School. "Also, Professor Wallenstein seems to be focusing on the relations between the races and the relations between different genders, and how they have impacted Virginia's history. This in an innovative approach to the history of the state."
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