The only Christmas presents I am competent to recommend are books, and this year I decided to recommend only books by authors whom I know. The first in the series was The Christmas Wish, by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen. Target and Power Line have both plugged The Christmas Wish, and I understand sales have shot up as a result.
Selection number two is Jon Lauck’s The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History. Jon, who is from South Dakota, is an interesting guy–a lawyer, a historian, and one of John Thune’s top advisers. The Lost Region is sort of a history of history: the Midwest, a region whose importance to American history should be self-evident, was once widely studied, but in recent years has generally been ignored by academic historians. This is curious, because not only is Midwestern history fascinating, it is mostly a story of success, not failure. Among other things, Midwestern states have generally had the most positive civic cultures of any region. One might think that historians would want to study success so that it can be replicated; but you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this is not high on most contemporary historians’ agendas.
You can order The Lost Region from Amazon at the link, or from the University of Iowa Press, whose description of the book includes this blurb by Stanford’s Richard White:
Jon Lauck justifiably laments the neglect of the Midwest by both the contemporary media and, more surprisingly, by historians, but this book is a robust and persuasive response rather than a complaint. The Midwest is vital to any explanation of the United States, and at one time midwesterners—particularly his Prairie Historians—explained the region to itself and praised its importance to the rest of the country. He is right. Historians need to refill the space they once occupied.
Whether you are a Midwesterner or not, you will enjoy The Lost Region.