Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Kentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright’s House for I. N. and Bernardine Hagan

By Bernardine Hagan
The Local History Company, 2005 (220 pages, cloth, $39.95)

“This is not a treatise on architecture,” writes Bernardine Hagan in her introduction to Kentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright’s House for I. N. and Bernardine Hagan. “That I will leave to more professional writers. What I would like to recount is the true story of how we came to build Kentuck Knob and our lives there over three decades.” What follows is the author’s intimate memoir of the Frank Lloyd Wright house that she and her husband, Isaac Newton Hagan, built in the mountains overlooking Uniontown, Fayette County. I. N. Hagan, proprietor of the Hagan Ice Cream Company, founded in 1878, had a deep seated desire to live in the nearby wooded mountains, where the couple had purchased two tracts of land. In 1940, in the course of business, he met Edgar J. Kaufmann, president of Kaufmann’s Department Store, Pittsburgh, for whom Wright designed Fallingwater near Mill Run. The dairyman and the retailer grew friendly and the Hagans and their son Paul began visiting Fallingwater at least once each summer for the following dozen years or so. It was in 1953 during a visit at Fallingwater that Hagan asked Kaufmann if he thought Wright would design a house for him and his family on property he owned on the mountain. Kaufmann’s enthusiasm proved infectious and the Hagans were quickly on their way to visit the architect at Taliesen North at Spring Green, Wisconsin. “That was when our adventure began,” Hagan noted. The Hagans met with the contentious Wright, who urged them to visit a number of designs on their way home before sending them off with parting words, “I guess we can build you a house.” The author takes readers on a fascinating, whirlwind tour of Ken­tuck Knob, treating them to intimate portrayals not only of the master architect, but the laborers who helped build the house. She punctuates her commentary with humor and warmth, re­calling with fondness the discussions she and l. N. had with Wright and his assistants. She also recalls with clarity her and her husband’s role as clients and how they negotiated changes in the building plans with Wright, who could be surly, severe, and downright difficult. The magic of Kentuck Knob is the graceful way in which the author chronicles the history of the house, from its conception to its completion – and beyond. She charms readers with the “little stories” that tend to be forgotten or neglected. She shares details that give insight into how she and her husband managed what was an incredibly complicated undertaking, whether it was coping with Wright’s lack of attention to budgetary matters or the challenge of reforesting more than two hundred acres. (Asked by Bernardine Hagan if the architect and the builders were adhering to the couple’s budget, Wright replied, “My dear lady, I have no idea.” He truly did not.) The book brims with well more than two hun­dred images; I. N. Hagan, an accomplished amateur photographer, made thousands of images of Kentuck Knob, from its beginnings as a denuded hilltop through its transfor­mation into a beautiful, comfortable home with marvelously landscaped grounds. Individuals who tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterworks in southwestern Pennsylvania are awed by Fallingwater, but want to live at Kentuck Knob and this book offers the many reasons why.


World War II in Their Own Words: An Oral History of Pennsylvania’s Veteran

By Brian Lockman
Stackpole Books, 2005 (251 pages, paper, $19.95)

A companion volume to the popular Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) television series, World War II in Their Own Words: An Oral History of Pennsylvania’s Veterans is a compila­tion of recollections by nearly three dozen Pennsylvanians who served during the second World War. Each individual offers riveting eyewitness accounts of his or her participation during the war, ranging from heartbreaking and horrific to heartwarming and humorous. As each member of what television newsman Tom Brokaw pronounced “The Greatest Generation” recounts his or her story – many of them peppered with anec­dotes – readers are given an unusual glimpse of the combatants’ perspective on warfare, including how they felt about the killing of fellow human beings, including innocent civilians, and their narrow, harrowing escapes from death. In addition to describing their wartime experiences, the veterans – from all walks of life and from all areas of the Keystone State – discuss their feelings of fear, despair, isolationism, sadness, and anger, as well as their spirit of patriotism, hope, and pride as Americans that helped them prevail. “It took twenty-one bomb hits and eighteen torpedoes for that giant ship to sink,” recalls Lehigh Valley resident Walter R. Kuczma, a crew member on the USS Intrepid, about sinking, in late October 1944, the largest battleship in the world at the time, Japan’s Musashi, which led the attack at Pearl Harbor. “I weighed about 140 pounds, a skinny kid from Pittsburgh, and I had loaded those bombs. ‘This is for Pearl Harbor!’ I would yell, or ‘This is payback time!’ Other guys wrote their names on bombs, saying ‘This is from St. Louis,’ or ‘This is from New York,’ or ‘Remem­ber Pearl Harbor!”‘ Others recount the nightmare of being captured and tortured. The Japanese captured Nick Gazibara of Export, a tail gunner in the Army Air Forces, and imprisoned him at Tokyo’s Kampei-tai Military Prison. “Well, whenever you are held by the Kampei-tai, says Gazibara, “you are interrogated.” “They don’t interrogate you like you and I are talking; they interrogate you with a bamboo pole. You are handcuffed and kneel in front of a table. The interrogator – I know his name, Kobyashi – he worked me over. I mean he really beat me three times pretty hard.” Still others reflect on the devastation and destruction, the chaos and the carnage. World War II in Their Own Wards includes a photograph of each of the veterans, as well as a brief summary of what they did after the war. With additional text by author and historian Dan Cupper, the book features maps, informative sidebars, timeline, bibliography, and a list of resources, such as military museums and research centers.


Front-Page Pittsburgh: Two Hundred Years of the Post-Gazette

By Clarke M. Thomas
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005 (332 pages, cloth, $34.95)

The first edition of the Pittsburgh Gazette, published on Saturday, July 29, 1786, lives on as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the dominant newspaper in a major American city: survivor of name changes, ownership sales, numerous mergers, and a fiercely competitive market once populated by more than fifty newspapers. Front-Page Pittsburgh: Two Hundred Years of the Post-Gazette illustrates that the history of Pittsburgh’s newspaper is also inextricably entwined with that of the city. The book reveals how the publication and its predecessors influenced local politics and business – through behind-the-scenes personal connections and editorial positions advocated by the publishers – and brought more than two centuries of news from the nation and the world to the people of western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Gazette supported the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1787 as an antidote to the anarchy of the Articles of Confederation, and two years later printed the full text of James Madison’s Bill of Rights amendments. In 1794, during the Whiskey Rebellion, it published President George Washington’s proclamation offering a reward for bringing the tax protesters (“said offenders”) to justice. The newspaper announced the War of 1812, the city’s Great Fire of 1845, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the president’s assassination in 1865. Through the years, the Pittsburgh Gazette and, later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on local issues, from the incorporation in 1787 of the Pittsburgh Academy (now the University of Pittsburgh) to the heated controversy in 2001 over the cost of building two new sports stadiums. No problem or advancement in the city was immune from the newspaper’s coverage, and its editorial stances – especially its support of the civil rights movement and school desegregation in the 1960s – ­were subject to public outcry and harsh criticism. Front-Page Pittsburgh: Two Hundred Years of the Post-Gazette presents a history of the newspaper stretching from the nation’s founding to the controversies surrounding today’s downtown redevelopments in the city. By focusing on what stories were reported – and how – the book adds a fascinating dimension to the history of Pittsburgh and its people. By looking at key business decisions by various owners, the book illustrates how the first newspaper published west of the Allegheny Mountains emerged as the last one standing in Pittsburgh following a devastating labor strike of 1992. Front-Page Pittsburgh also explains why so many people have come to trust and respect the newspaper’s fairness in dealing with various viewpoints and why – from the Johnstown Flood of 1889 to the crash of USAir flight 427 near Aliquippa in 1994, which killed all 132 individuals aboard – whenever Pittsburghers have needed or wanted the news, they have turned to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


These Just In …

A number of new books about Pennsylvania history have been received by Pennsylvania Heritage’s editorial staff, which has not had the opportunity to review them, but wishes to share news of their availability with readers.

“EE-YAH”: The Life and Times of Hughie Jennings, Baseball Hall of Famer by Jack Smiles, published by McFarland & Company, 2005; 231 pages, paper, $29.95.

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park by James D. Ristine, published by Arcadia Publishing, 2005; 128 pages, paper, $19.99.

It Happened in Pennsylvania by Fran Capo and Scott Bruce, published by The Globe Pequot Press, 2005; 164 pages, paper, $9.95.

Sticks ‘n Stones: The Myers Family in Levittown by Daisy D. Myers, published by York County Heritage Trust, 2005; 102 pages, paper, $14.95.

Images of America: Conneaut Lake Park by Michael E. Costello, published by Arcadia Publishing, 2005; 128 pages, paper, $19.99.

Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: America’s First Coast-to-­Coast Road by Brian Butko, published Stackpole Books, 2005; 288 pages, cloth, $29.95.

The Stone Coal Way: A Guide to Navigating Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor through Eastern Pennsylvania by Tom Shealey, published by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, 2005; 154 pages, spiral bound, $19.95.

African Americans of Harrisburg by John Weldon Scott and Eric Ledell Smith, published by Arcadia Publishing, 2005; 128 pages, paper, $19.99.