Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott (1863)

The atmosphere of the average hospital is foreign to me. Luckily I’ve not been forced into an extended hospital visit so far in my life. I hope that it is much different from the army hospital described in this book. One would hope that hospital care has improved since the American Civil War. The food and supplies are severely lacking in quality. Each ward is filled to the brim with wounded soldiers with little peace and quite amid the bustle of a full hospital. As an avid book reader and determined daydreamer, the confines of a noisy, busy hospital would feel claustrophobic. I don’t believe I’d enjoy either working with Miss Alcott in 1862 nor working in modern hospitals. The sight of blood makes slightly queasy; the groans of the afflicted fill me with equal discomfort. Mere talk of surgery gives my a light stomachache. For the rest of the day, I’d imagine surgeons sawing through my bones without anesthetic.

Louisa May Alcott is having a conversation with her family trying to decide where the head next in life. Shooting down ideas of writing or teaching, she turns favorably upon the idea of helping the war effort by volunteering as a war nurse. Down she travels from Massachusetts to Washington DC describing her bumbling travels with much levity. At the hospital, she explains the conditions and circumstances of daily hospital life. At first, she bumbles through the normal tasks but in a few days she becomes accustomed to the regular nurse routine. The hours are long, the food is poor, bandages are not always available and people die regularly without anesthetic. The death of one particular man of impressive character and stoic demeanor almost brought me to tears. Drifting from happy to sad moments with a impressive authenticity Louisa illuminates the world of an active war hospital. Be ready for laughing and crying while reading Hospital Sketches.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/hospital-sketches-by-louisa-may-alcott/

Advertisements

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1892)

This leaflet is a chilling reminder of America’s past when lynchings were commonplace. The author cited multiple newspaper articles that apologized for and encouraged the lynchings without trial. The unethical press distorted the facts to reinforce the 19th century beliefs of black inferiority and barbarism. To make matters worse black newspapers were pushed out of business for publishing articles condemning the unfair lynchings. The darkest point comes at the end when the author suggested that every black man should own a Winchester rifle to protect himself from the police and the lynching mobs. She cited multiple cases where the only reason an accused black man had a fair trial was by some desperate act of self defense. Learn from history by reading Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/southern-horrors-by-ida-b-wells/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14975

The Great Taxicab Robbery by James H. Collins (1912)

Here is a glimpse into the daily routine of New York Police Department and the lives of a band of criminals over a hundred years ago. Two things caught my eye throughout the story, sensational journalism and dubious lie detection. Multiple times the author criticizes the New York press for overreacting to the absence of immediate arrests and visible police investigation. A smart reminder that newspapers and periodicals were just as likely to print half true, provocative headlines in the past as they do today. At the end of the story watch for some unscientific lie detection. The commissioner seems aware that these devices and ruses are bogus. Instead, these “lie detectors” are used as psychological leverage during interrogation.

A sensation swept through New York City on February 15, 1912. In the middle of the day, a taxi carrying $25,000 from bank to bank was stopped and robbed. Five men were seen escaping with the money in an unidentified black motorcar. Slowly and methodically the case is solved and all the criminals involved are arrested. See the world through the eyes of the police force by reading this account of The Great Taxicab Robbery.

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-great-taxicab-robbery-by-james-h-collins/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53145

Mob Rule in New Orleans by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1900)

This is a disturbing read. With incredible directness and absence of colorful language this little pamphlet describes the horrible events committed by mobs in and around New Orleans. The utter disregard for the lives of black people and the complete disdain for the rule of law is shocking when looked at in a modern context. Common law concepts such as innocence until proven guilty and freedom of speech were continually ignored. At the same time, the atrocities attributed to the mob didn’t result in any arrests whatsoever.

Robert Charles and his friend are sitting out in front of house when they are accosted by three officers. His friend submits to the unwarranted arrest while Robert fights back and flees the scene. What follows is a citywide manhunt that results in the death of Robert Charles and a dozen police officers and citizens. As a result of this bloodshed mobs form around New Orleans killing innocent black people indiscriminately. Ida B. Wells-Barnett crafts a patchwork of local news articles and interviews to paint the terrible scene. Learn from the past by picking up Mob Rule in New Orleans.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/mob-rule-in-new-orleans-by-ida-b-wells-barnett/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14976