Kevin Patrick, Pennsylvania Caves & Other Rocky Roadside Wonders. Stackpole Books, 2004. Photographs, maps, diagrams, visitor information, bibliography, index, 248 pages, paperback $19.95.
Brian Lockman, World War II in Their Own Words. Stackpole Books, 2005. Photographs, timeline, maps, bibliography, index, 251 pages, paperback $19.95.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, oral history is something everyone talks about, but no one does anything about. Only after a participant or an eyewitness of what is later considered history passes beyond deposition does everyone say, "Someone really should have written his (or her) stories down." Rarely are there exceptions to this Barn Door rule of historiography. The Pennsylvania Cable Network, led by producer Jolene Risser and president Brian Lockman, is one of the sterling exceptions.
Beginning in 2001 PCN began assembling a television series of oral histories of Pennsylvania World War II veterans. The series, originally envisioned a modest effort of sampling veterans' stories, grew into twenty-four hours of interviews, then three later installments, and is continuing at the present hour. It has become an inspirational model for other public broadcasting and state cable networks. Over 150 veterans have been interviewed on film. This book is a transcription with additional context of thirty-three of those interviews. Harrisburg-based historian Dan Cupper has added pithy and helpful sidebars of period biography, tactics, and other detail that ground the stories in their era. The only apparatus of the book that is weak is the bibliography, which is shallow, and the web-resources, which are shallower as well as naive in a work of historical value.