More for Further Reading

This essay by Emily McEwen, “Out of the academy and into public service: Changing expectations and new measures of success” on the History@Work blog by the National Council of Public History, should resonate with anyone transitioning from academia to the public sphere.  One line in particular was incredibly accurate, based on my experience: “All of a sudden, there was a whole lot of public in my history and I was completely overwhelmed.”  Well put Emily… well put.  She goes on to describe her experience in her job and the fruitful lessons she’s learned about public service.  For my part, I’ve been trying to keep a balance between public and history: integrating them when I can, reminding myself to take the time to listen to the public, and also taking needed breaks to do some academic-like research and writing.  I can’t say I’ve mastered that balance, but I think I’m keeping my head above water…


The new biography from the South Dakota Historical Society Press, Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor, is more than a biography — partly because so little verifiable biographical information about Hugh Glass is known.  As author Dr. James McLaird quoted recently at a presentation at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, Hugh Glass wouldn’t have made a dent in the history of fur-trading if he hadn’t been mauled by a bear, and if the ensuing tale hadn’t become a signature American epic.  But it did, and so we continue to retell the story, from Neihardt’s “Song of Hugh Glass” in 1915, to Frederick Manfred’s 1950s bestseller Lord Grizzly, to Michael Punke’s recent book The Revenant and its associated award-winning film.  There’s something to the story that strikes a chord, and McLaird set about (even before the film project was announced) to find out what he could verify about Hugh Glass’ origins and the mauling story.  The biography also digs into the many stories told about Glass, when they came out, where the authors got their information, and how the stories proliferated.  It’s a biography of the legend almost more than it is a biography of the man, but I think all the more interesting because of it.

 

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