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Book Review: Cumberland County Government

Daniel J. Heisey, ed., Cumberland County Government, (Carlisle: County of Cumberland, 2000). 54 pp. illustrated. Paperback, Free. 

Ever wonder where local tax money goes or what it does? Although many of us certainly complain about taxes, few of us are probably aware of exactly where our percentage goes once the check is mailed. Gas needed in the Sheriff's cruiser? Grass mowing needed on the Courthouse lawn? Electric bill payment needed for the West Shore Public Library? These are Cumberland County taxes at work. Although I may appear to be advocating a county tax increase, I am actually advocating greater resident awareness of tax money through the local publication Cumberland County Government.

Book Review: Cumberland Justice: Legal Practice in Cumberland County 1750-2000 by the Cumberland County Bar Association

Cumberland Justice: Legal Practice in Cumberland County 1750 - 2000 by the Cumberland County Bar Association. Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Bar Association, 2001. Index, hardback. $39.95.

The great Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, one of the most successful converts from law to literature, reflected on his abandoned profession in his novel Guy Mannering, published in 1815. In it, an Edinburgh advocate muses, "In civilized society, law is the chimney through which all the smoke discharges itself that used to circulate through the whole house, and put every one's eyes out - no wonder, therefore, that the vent itself should sometimes get a little sooty." In Cumberland justice, Dickinson Law School archivist Mark Podvia and a committee representing the Cumberland County Bar Association take it upon themselves to perform a thorough inspection of our local societal chimney. They find sootiness, true, but they also find heroism, humor, and much else besides.

Book Review: Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg

David Valuska and Christian B. Keller, Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg. Stackpole Books, 2004. photographs, endnotes, index, 236 pages, hardcover $26.95.

"The Damned Dutchmen are running again!!!" That shout went up on the afternoon of the 1st of July 1863 at Gettysburg when units of the Federal XI corps were driven from their positions north of town by elements of the II corps of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. This book examines just who those "Dutchmen" were, their background and their performance at Gettysburg to shed a bit more light on them and their culture.

Book Review: Diners of Pennsylvania

Brian Butka and Kevin Patrick, Diners of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999. 250pp. Paperback, $19.95. ISBN 0-8117-2878-1 

Perhaps the appeal of roadside diners is that they lack pretension. They make no claim to elegance or exotica; they are reliable and durable, nothing more. Moreover, unlike the national purveyors of fast food, diners offer individualism and local color. One may find McDonalds the world over, bur The Sycamore in Bethel, Connecticut, is one of a kind. 

Book Review: Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

Nicholson Baker, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (New York: Random House, 2001) xii, 371, index. Hardback $25 .95 (ISBN 0-375- 50444-3).

We've all been hoodwinked, bamboozled, and flimflammed! Librarians for the past fifty years have waged an unnecessary war against so-called brittle books and newspapers, generating rolls upon rolls of microfilm of dubious quality, all in the name of preservation. As a result, countless original paper copies of microfilmed print materials have been needlessly discarded when they could simply have been warehoused at minimal expense. At least, that's what Nicholson Baker would have us all believe.

Book Review: From Horses to Horsepower: How Goods Got and Get to Market

G. Kenneth Bishop, From Horses to Horsepower: How Goods Got and Get to Market. (Carlisle: 250'" Anniversary Committee, 2000). 16 pp. Paperback $2.00 (This edition limited to 250 copies.)

For the compulsive researcher, this booklet is a catalyst. A survey of industry and transportation in Cumberland County from the 1730s to the present, it is a handy compendium of scattered secondary sources. A bibliography at the end points the way to further reading.

Book Review: Historical Monroe Township: A Collection of Articles and Images Illuminating Various Aspects of Our Community's Past

Sharon R. Nelson, ed., Historic M onroe Township: A Collection of Articles and Images Illuminating Various Aspects of Our Community's Past. (Camp Hill: Plank's Suburban Press, 2000) 90 pp. Paperback, $ 10.00 

It is exciting to have the opportunity to review an outstanding local history book, Historic Monroe Township. The goal of the authors, as given in the foreword, was "to document rhe history of our municipality and to share our knowledge and educational resources with the community. " I am pleased to report that they have more than accomplished their goal.