Curator's Book Club

Born during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, the Curator's Book Club is the creation of Museum Manager David Moore. Every two weeks, Dave recommends a book related to some area of history for our members, volunteers, and social media followers to dive into.
CompletelyBOOKED in Murrysville has partnered with the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center is offering members a 10% discount on all books, including our book club features. They have a  great selection and they can order books for you as well. 
201 Blue Spruce Way
Murrysville, PA 15668
412-724-575-7520
These books are all available online in hardcover and/or paperback, digital ebooks, audiobooks, and through your local library.
 
 
 
 
 
If you purchase your books on Amazon, you can donate to the Center via the
Amazon Smile program.
Every dollar helps keep our doors open and remain YOUR Mon Valley Museum.
 
Be sure to follow our social media accounts for our posts on the new books or search #curatorsbookclub on Facebook and Instagram.

 

The Curator's Book Club Book List

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The Gatekeepers: How The White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency

by Chris Whipple

With the 2020 election approaching, I thought it would be a great time to take a deep dive into arguably one of the most important, and often overlooked, positions in the American government, the President's Chief of Staff. Thus, the October selection for the #curatorsbookclub is The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

 

I read this book earlier this year and absolutely loved it. Chris Whipple takes you behind the scenes for every Chief of Staff dating back to the Kennedy Administration, and weaves the story of how these individuals play an important role in every presidency and the impact they have had on American History. In hyper-partisan times, this is a breath of fresh air where it looks at the facts of historical events and looks at the positives and negatives of their actions.

 

No matter your political affiliation, I think you will enjoy this read this election season!

Be sure to check out Completely Booked in Murrysville to get 10% off your copy when you mention the Heritage Center!

PURCHASE OPTIONS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

By Erik Larson

 

This is one of my absolute favorite true crime/history books. Erik Larson, a phenomenal writer, takes you back to the late 19th Century and America's bid to host the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Interwoven in his tale is the story of H.H. Holmes, a "pharmacist" in Chicago who created a building on the streets of Chicago known as the "Murder Castle." The story of Holmes, America's first serial killer, is documented from beginning to end, along with the history of Chicago and everything that went into the hosting of the 1893 World's Fair in an incredibly gripping way. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did. 

PURCHASE OPTIONS:

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1776

by David McCullough

Written by Pittsburgh native and wonderful historian David McCullough, 1776  is the newest addition to the #CuratorsBookClub. A companion to McCullough's earlier writings on John Adams, this book focuses on the beginnings of the American Revolution and looks specifically at certain key figures, including King George and Generals Washington, Howe, Knox and Greene, and the key early battles of the war such as Dorchester Heights, Long Island and Trenton. 

 

More of a military history of the Revolution rather than a political read, this is a must-read book for any fan of American History and anyone who is a fan of David McCullough's work. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out Completely Booked in Murrysville to get 10% off your copy when you mention the Heritage Center!

PURCHASE OPTIONS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Coming of Age in Mississippi By Anne Moody

This is a book I read during my studies at the University of Pittsburgh and in the current climate of Black Lives Matter and the importance of this essentially next generation of Civil Rights activism, I thought Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi would be a great read for the #curatorsbookclub.

 

Anne takes you into her upbringing on a poor tenant farm in the south. How she became the first member of her family to attend college and her eventual involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Anne brings you right into the climate in which she grew up, the turbulence of those times and the strides her generation helped foster. I hope you will enjoy this read.

PURCHASE OPTIONS:

Amazon

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The Killer Angels By Michael Shaara
 
As we enter June, it is time to add a new book to the #curatorsbookclub! For this new selection, I am offering  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
 
This work of historical fiction is a pretty accurate representation of the overall Battle of Gettysburg of July 1-3, 1863. For those who have read Martin's Game of Thrones series, Shaara's book is written in a similar fashion, as the battle is being told from the perspective of the major players, both Union and Confederate, of the battle. It is the book that sparked my deep interest in the American Civil War and I hope you find it interesting as well. When you are finished reading, I highly recommend watching the film Gettysburg which is based on Shaara's novel and stars the likes of Martin Sheen, Jeff Daniels, Sam Elliot, and Tom Berenger.
PURCHASE OPTIONS: 
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The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Tale of the Donner Party
By Daniel James Brown

 

Recommended to me by my favorite podcast, The Last Podcast on the Left, this incredible book gives the true story of the Donner Party and the dangerous trip that countless Americans made annually to settle California in the 1840s.
 
The book gives an in-depth account of life in a wagon train, but also focuses on the horrific consequences the Donner Party faced in their journey. Full of murder, starvation and eventually cannibalism, Brown brings the true horrors of the Donner Party's particular journey to life in the 21st Century. A great read for anyone interested in the settling of the old west and the Donner Party.
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The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down
By Colin Woodard
 
I have been fascinated by pirates since I was a young boy playing with LEGO Pirate sets and watching Disney’s Peter Pan. As I grew up, that interest never waned and now I try to read as many books on Caribbean piracy that I can find.
In my opinion, Woodard’s 2008 book is the pinnacle of the history of piracy. He explores how men like Charles Vane, “Blackbeard” Edward Teach and Henry Morgan pillaged the seven seas and created a truly equal and democratic society in the Caribbean before being hunted down and wiped out by the powers of Europe. It shows how these men, and women, created a society that was years ahead of its time, even if they were conducting illegal activities. It gives the best narrative tale to a highly entertaining subject.
 
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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
By David Grann
 
I read this book while sitting on a beach in South Carolina, but I felt as if I was searching the Amazon myself. The book tells the life story of British Explorer Percy Fawcett and his explorations of the Amazon jungles. In 1925, Fawcett went into the Amazon in search of the fabled “Lost City of Z,” and never emerged. Grann weaves the life of Fawcett and his disappearance with his own search in the present day to discover what happened to Fawcett and if there is indeed a lost city in the Amazon.
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With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
By E.B. Sledge
The basis for the 2010 HBO Miniseries The Pacific, this book is a first-hand account of life for U.S. Marine Eugene Sledge in the Pacific Theater during World War II. An incredibly gripping read, Sledge brings you right into his world during the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. He will have you smelling the smoke, seeing the carnage and feeling the fear of men in combat. It is a phenomenal read and one of my favorite books on the Second World War.
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The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Break Their Silence
By Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin
 
The first book in the #curatorsbookclub focuses on the Secret Service agents that protected President John F. Kennedy in the weeks leading up to his assassination, the day itself, and the aftermath. Selected because of Kennedy’s ties to McKeesport, which is featured in our museum, this book gives you insight into the minds of all those agents who were there on November 22, 1963.
 
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