Holiday gift guide: local history

Local History Books.JPG

Your Capital Region history questions, answered.

Maybe it's just our inner geek, but we love knowing the back-story about the place we live.

Learning who stayed in that old hotel back in the day, what ghost haunts the music hall or the correct pronunciation of Kosciusko just kinda makes our day in a weird little way.

Today's local holiday gift guide suggestion celebrates exactly that type of local history geekdom.

What?
Local history books.

There are a surprising number of books about the history of the Capital Region. On a recent trip to The Book House we found books on Guilderland, Lansingburgh, the trolleys of the Capial Region, the railroads of Rensselaer and the Schenectady Stockade. And there were tons more. Well, not tons in the literal sense, but you get the idea.

Here are a few local titles that looked good:

Architects in Albany- Diana S. Waite - A companion to the 1993 book Albany Architecture, this book focuses on the local and national architects who designed many of the buildings you walk past, drive by, live in or work in today. It's published in part by the Historic Albany Foundation. $25

Hudson River Panorama -- Tammis K. Groft/W. Douglas McCombs/Ruth Greene-McNally -Commemorating the Hudson 400, this book is an illustrated history of The Hudson River and its impact on the people and landscape. $25

Saving Troy - William Patrick -A year in the life of firefighters and paramedics in Troy. While it's not exactly history, it gives you a glimpse inside a layer of the Collar City that you don't normally get to see. $

Saratoga Lives - Mike Hare - Think "Spoon River Anthology." Real and fictional characters from four different time periods in Saratoga's history speak out about their lives. In the process they give an account of the ups and downs of a city from a wide variety of
perspectives. $18.95

Where?
Sure, most of them are available on Amazon or on the local shelves at Borders, but if you're really into local, you can find most of these titles at The Book House in
Stuyvesant Plaza or Market Block Books in Troy.

Who are they for?
History or architecture buffs or anyone who might like to know more about the place they live.

How much?
Most of the local books we saw (including the titles mentioned here) are available for $30 or less.

Also try:
There are lots of other local history titles available, but if you know someone who is more into fiction or essays, you'll find plenty of books by local authors. A few you might want to try: Dan Nester's, "How to be Inappropriate," Allen Ballard's suspense novel "Carried by Six" and Michael Barrett's murder mystery, "The Keeler Principle."

Earlier on AOA:
The 2008 Holiday Gift Guide
More holiday gift ideas

Comments

Along with Hudson River Panorama and Saving Troy, both listed in this piece, SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions also offer a wide variety of books that focus on New York State.

Anyone interested in local history should check out O Albany by William Kennedy -- yep, the same William Kennedy who's written a stack of books based in and about Albany. It's not only full of info which I now, three years after the last reading, relate entirely incorrectly, but is also a really great read too.

Or for more about Thaddeus Kosciuszko there was a biography - The Peasant Prince, by Alex Storozynski - released this year.

Don't forget about books with local ties for kids. There are plenty out there!

Speaking of William Kennedy, I recommend his fictional works as well - particularly LEGS and IRONWEED.

And we cannot discuss books about local history without mentioning ALBANY, CITY ON THE HUDSON by Jack McEneny (who himself is a walking encyclopedia of local history).

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