Books About the Past

Defining terms:

(Past) History, archives, gaps in the record, voices that echo through time, memoirs of those who have passed, public memory, loss, traces, accumulated moments that create the present, the present spun backward, lessons, all that has gone before and will likely return in another form.

Above the Gravel Bar
With this book you can put your canoe in a nearby river and travel prehistoric Maine’s Native American canoe routes.

The Adventures
of Sir Goblin
For young adults and not-so-young adults, a well-researched story about a precocious cat in Medieval times.

At the Place of
Lobsters and Crabs
For thousands of years, native people lived on Deer Isle and the surrounding islands. This is their history.

Blown Apart
The story begins when a house of suspected Nazi spies is blown up in a small town in Maine. Based on a true story.

Breckinridge Long: American Eichmann???
The extent of Long’s efforts to impede immigration to safe harbor in the U.S.A. for Jews and gentiles alike is uncovered.

Crimes of War
This novel is based on the actual massacre by the SS of a small town in France during WWII.

Freda’s Diary
A diary that spans seven decades from a religious woman who spent her life in rural Maine.

Growing up on an
Island in Maine
There are many books about the islands off the Maine coast, but few by authors raised on one. This book is an exception.

Journal of a 2nd Lieutenant in Iraq
White recalls his deployment as a 2nd Lieutenant in Maine’s 133rd National Guard Engineer Battalion

Letters from a
Civil War Surgeon
These personal communications take us into the major battles of the Civil War and a first-hand assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Martin McMillan & the Lost Inca City
Martin’s parents drag him to an archaeological dig in Peru—where he skateboards down a secret path to adventure.

More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean Vol I
The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives during the Holocaust. This is the history of its extraordinary work.

More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean Vol II
The second book in Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board.

Penobscot Traditions
A realistic imagining of Penobscot Indian life in the Maine woods before Europeans arrived, based on research by Nicholas N. Smith, PhD.

Scattered Souls
Memoir written by the child of a Holocaust survivor.

Project Omaha Beach
Memoir by decorated WWII medic and Penobscot Indian elder Charles Norman Shay.

Three Hundred
Years in Thirty
A mixture of personal recollection and ethnohistory of the Mistassini people.

Venice and the Water
An analysis of the complex relationship between Venice and its environment, with an eye toward current climate issues.

The Way Things Were
Stories and essays that portray life on Deer Isle, Maine during the steamboat era, the 1840s until 1942.

A Winter Apprentice
Insights into life in a Maine boatyard, where Willey worked and kept a journal from 1978-79.

My Tainted Blood
Follows the author as a German/Jew teenager in wartime Breslau and postwar Germany. Survival story based on fact.

Thomas Votary, Medieval Oxford Coroner: The King’s Gold Double Leopards Medieval Oxford has no law only landowners who try and control Votary so he won’t unveil their secret world but Thomas believes in justice and love.

Traces of the past visible at our head quarters
  • Photographs of ancestors: family in Kansas and Ireland
  • A ring handed down through generations
  • Several diaries, some hand-written, some digital
  • Laugh lines
  • Worn-down soles of hiking boots, running shoes, sandals
  • Chlorine-bleached swim suit
  • The building itself, layers of walls made and remade
  • Collections of pebbles
  • A chunk of asphalt
  • A table made from logs once sunk in a log jam, washed ashore almost a century later
  • Tan lines
Words from the present about the past

What I think of as history on this land … can never be complete or single-voiced. Each of us participates in it.

-Lauret Savoy, Trace

You are confronted with abysses of time that are, in a way, unfathomable. You see a painting in charcoal of reindeer, and it was left unfinished, and somebody else finished it … 5,000 years later. You’re just blown away by the notion of passage of time. We have no relationship to that kind of depth of time.

-Werner Herzog
Questions for you to reflect on or write about the past

What did you do yesterday? What evidence exists of what you did? Where do your ancestors come from? Where are you going? What would someone like you be doing one hundred years ago? Two hundred? Two thousand? Where do you see repetition in history? Where has your own past repeated?

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