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LITERARY HILL

A Compendium of Readers, Writers, Books, & Events

by Karen Lyon The Gentleman from Ohio Louis Stokes shined shoes in Depressionera Cleveland to help supplement his mother’s income as a maid. “We were poor as poor and we knew it,” he writes. But his mother encouraged him and his brother Carl to “get something in your head. Be somebody!” And they did. Carl became the first black mayor of a major American city, and Louis went on to become a criminal defense lawyer and a representative in the US Congress, where he served for 30 years. As he relates in his posthumous autobiography, “The Gentleman from Ohio,” Louis Stokes was one of only six African-Americans when he was elected to the House. As part of an “historic cohort,” he felt that he had not only a mandate to serve his district, but also “an obligation to reach out and represent black people wherever they were.” That duty defined his long and distinguished career. As a lawyer he addressed school inequality and police brutality and argued the case before the US Supreme Court that established rules for stop-and-frisk procedures. In the Congress he became the first black member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, chairing a subcommittee where he tackled racial disparities in healthcare. He also strove to maintain respectful and collegial relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. That changed with the election of Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House, whose leadership ushered in a “poisonous” atmosphere that ended an era of “functional bipartisanship.” No longer wanting to “work in a place where ill will and anger were the order of the day,” Representative Stokes retired in 1999. On his final day in the House, members were still lined up to speak after three hours of tributes to him and his service. “As I walked out the door for the last time,” he writes, “I thought, what a true honor this has been.” Louis Stokes died in 2015 at age 90, just days after finishing work on “The Gentleman from Ohio.” His daughter Lori, who grew up in DC, is an award-winning journalist who got her start at WJLA-TV. She is now a news anchor for WABC in New York City but will return to DC to talk about her father and his book at the BookFest.

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scalding vapors. Never mind that drinking the finished product can make you sick, blind, or dead. Despite the risks, however, moonshine has been a pervasive part of human societies for thousands of years, with government revenuers always struggling to keep up. It holds a special place in America’s cultural ethos, from Prohibition gangsters to the Dukes of Hazzard. Kosar covers it all, right up to the present day when boutique distilleries are churning out “haute-hillbilly” craft spirits. Civil rights lawyer and US Representative Louis Stokes Beautifully illustrated with artwork shares his inspiring life story in and photographs, this slim volume is ala posthumous autobiography. most too elegant for its earthy subject matter. In smooth, lively prose, Kosar presents a wealth of fascinating facts, history, and anA World of Moonshine ecdotes – and he even includes recipes. A The Irish call it potcheen. The Russians guzzle Moonshine Mojito, anyone? samogon. In Kenya it’s called chang’aa (translaKevin Kosar is also the author of “Whiskey: A tion: “Kill me quickly”). And in parts of this counGlobal History” and has written and edited Alcotry you can buy yourself a jug of white lightning (if holReviews.com for nearly 20 years. Come meet you know the right people). Whatever you call it, him at the BookFest! it’s an illegally produced alcoholic spirit intended to get you drunk. Fast. Baseball for Girls In “Moonshine: A Global History” author When his two girls were younger, Michael TurnKevin R. Kosar tries to get to the bottom of the lier couldn’t find any children’s picture books that quor’s “enduring allure.” He discovers that the anconnected dads, daughters, and baseball – so he swer varies from culture to culture, whether it’s “a wrote his own. The result is “Baseball Is Back,” a way to thumb one’s nose at government taxes and delightful storybook that sets out the rules of the regulation,” a rebellious thrill, or simply “a cheap game in rhyme. way to get severely intoxicated.” He evokes the sights and smells of the ballFor some, the making of moonshine reprepark (popcorn!), shares some personal memories, sents a technological challenge, and Kosar deand even works in Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, and a scribes the process, which can result in being whole teamful of famous players. Warm, colorful blown up, overcome by gases, or sprayed with illustrations lend spirit and whimsy to the action.

Kevin Kosar reveals everything you ever wanted to know about the world’s most popular DIY booze.

Turner is clearly a huge fan of baseball, but he loves his daughters even more. “Here are some memories and rules of the game,” he writes. “Perhaps you will love it like me – just the same. / And maybe you won’t or maybe you will. / I will love you the same, yes, I’ll love you still.” Michael Turner is a Navy veteran and foreign affairs professional who lives on the Hill with his wife and three kids, who all love going to baseball games. Catch him at the BookFest on May 7.

On the Hill in April East City Bookshop hosts the ECB Fiction Book Club, discussing “Orphan Train” by Christina Bak-

Hill Rag Magazine April 2017  

Our flagship publication delivering all of your news from the Capitol...

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