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Pioneer Press: Minnesota writers have produced another good crop of nonfiction

By Mary Ann Grossmann
Pioneer Press

"The Beginning and End of Rape" by Sarah Deer (University of Minnesota Press, November)

Subtitled "Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America," this book by a professor at William Mitchell College of Law asserts that one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime and Native women experience the trauma of rape as an enduring violence that spans generations. This is a social history of rape, violence and sex trafficking in North America against Native women, and the legacy of rape in tribal communities. Deer suggests legal reforms that can be implemented by tribal governments.


"Everybody's Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock 'n' Roll in Minnesota" by Rick Shefchik (University of Minnesota Press, November)

From Augie Garcia and Bobby Vee to the Bops and the Castaways, former Pioneer Press critic Shefchik tells of local bands that almost made it in the 1960s, delving deeply into The Trashmen's rise to fame with a fluke novelty hit "Surfin' Bird" that inspired hundreds of Minnesota bands. Shefchik captures a time when live bands flourished in clubs, ballrooms, gyms and halls across the Upper Midwest.


"Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury" by Larry Millett, photography by Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari (University of Minnesota Press, November)

Seems everyone is talking about architecture and furnishings from the mid-20th-century these days. Architectural writer and novelist Millett explores Minnesota's midcentury modernism, from the first shopping malls to office buildings, hotels, churches and private homes. He writes about the refinement of the movement under the guidance of Ralph Rapson and other modernists.

This is the first detailed look at a period of transformation in Minnesota, from about 1945 to the early 1960s when modernist architecture was becoming the everyday architecture of the new suburbs. This richly illustrated coffee-table book is fun to look at because so many of the buildings still exist. But some are threatened, leading preservationists to fight for their importance.


"Myths of the Rune Stone: Viking Martyrs and the Birthplace of America" by David M. Krueger (University of Minnesota Press, October)

"Most of what has been written on the Kensington Rune Stone has been preoccupied with questions of authenticity," Krueger writes. "Insufficient attention has been given to the reasons for the popular appeal of the Kensington Rune Stone since it was unearthed in 1898."

The author, a scholar and teacher with degrees in religion, is more interested in why this strange object has captured imaginations. He argues that faith in the authenticity of the stone found in west-central Minnesota was a crucial part of the local Nordic identity that recast Native Americans as villains even though there was overwhelming evidence it was a hoax. He shows how the legitimacy of the stone has implications for a variety of Minnesotans, including Scandinavian immigrants, Catholics, small-town boosters and those who desired to commemorate the white settlers who died in the Dakota War of 1862.


"Portage: A Family, a Canoe and the Search for the Good Life" by Sue Leaf (Univer-sity of Minnesota Press, October)

Sue Leaf, a biologist and birder, has paddled the waters of North American for 40 years with her husband, Tom, beginning with a trip to the border lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Leaf showed her graceful writing skills in her previous books "The Bullhead Queen: A Year on Pioneer Lake" and "A Love Affair With Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts." She continues to captivate with "Portage," in which she recalls wandering into many little rivers of Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as the provincial parks of Canada, the Louisiana bayou and the West, noticing birds and plants along the way. Traveling the routes of the Ojibwe, voyageurs and explorers, she reflects on the region's history, and everywhere she assesses the health of the waters, some of which are in trouble. For Leaf, exploring the river means encountering life.


"The War Came Home With Him: A Daughter's Memoir" by Catherine Madison (University of Minnesota Press, September)

Catherine Madison's father, "Doc" Boysen, endured torture and starvation as a POW in North Korea, where he was held for three years. The former captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, captured in 1950, came home with suppressed grief that burst out in unreasonable rages against his daughter, who had to adhere strictly to codes she didn't understand.

Madison's dual memoir, both heartbreaking and riveting, moves between her father's struggles to survive unspeakable captivity and his difficult relationship with his family. She shows that soldiers aren't the only ones damaged by war.


Read the full list.