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

Palace of Culture: Andrew Carnegie’s Museums and Library in Pittsburgh

by Robert J. Gangewere
published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011; 332 pages, cloth, $35.00

Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) is remembered as one of the world’s great philanthropists. As a boy, he witnessed the benevolence of Colonel James Anderson, a prosperous iron maker, who opened his personal library of several hundred volumes to “working boys,” including Carnegie, “and on Saturday afternoons acted as librarian, thus dedicating not only his books but himself to the noble work.” That early experience inspired the steel magnate to create the “Free to the People” Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh in 1895. In 1896, he founded the Carnegie Institute, which included a music hall, art gallery, and science museum. He fervently believed education and culture could lift up the common man and should not be the sole province of the wealthy. Today, his Pittsburgh cultural institutions encompass a library, music hall, natural history museum, science center, art museum, Andy Warhol Museum, and the Carnegie International, the oldest North American exhibition of contemporary art from throughout the world.

In Palace of Culture: Andrew Carnegie’s Museums and Library in Pittsburgh, Robert J. Gangewere presents the first history of a cultural conglomeration that has served millions of individuals since its inception and inspired the likes of August Wilson (1945–2005), Andy Warhol (1928–1987), and David McCullough (born 1933). In this absorbing account, the author details the political turmoil, budgetary constraints, and cultural tides that have influenced the collections and their caretakers over time. He profiles many benefactors, trustees, directors, and administrators who have stewarded the collections through the years. Gangewere provides individual histories of the library, music hall, museums, and science center, and describes each as an educational and research facility.

Palace of Culture documents the importance of cultural institutions to the citizens of large metropolitan areas. Both the Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Institute have inspired the creation of similar institutions in the United States and serve as models for museum systems throughout the world.


Stop the Revolution: America in the Summer of Independence and the Conference for Peace

by Thomas J. McGuire
published by Stackpole Books, 2011; 210 pages, cloth, $29.95

“They met, they talked, they parted,” wrote Ambrose Serle, secretary to British Admiral Richard Lord Howe, after the Staten Island (New York) Conference on September 11, 1776, at which Howe met with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Rutledge of the Continental Congress in an attempt to bring a peaceful end to the American Revolution. It would be the last time Great Britain would speak to America as colonies.

The fascinating story of this little known but pivotal event in American history is chronicled by Thomas J. McGuire, a Revolutionary War expert, in Stop the Revolution: America in the Summer of Independence and the Conference for Peace, who weaves together eyewitness accounts from the participants and information extracted from contemporary correspondence, logs, diaries, and reports.

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, Admiral Howe and his brother, General William Howe, had been granted limited power by the British government to act as “peace commissioners” in an attempt to bring an amicable end to the rebellion. Admiral Howe arrived in New York on July 12, 1776, one week after independence was declared in Philadelphia, and contacted his friend Benjamin Franklin in hopes of effecting reconciliation with the colonies. Howe made another effort after the disastrous Battle of Long Island on August 27 by sending captured American General John Sullivan to Congress with a message requesting a meeting with “private gentlemen” to discuss peace. Adams, Franklin, and Rutledge embarked from Philadelphia on a journey through New Jersey to meet with Howe on Staten Island to find out precisely what the British had to offer.

The story of the conference is set in the context of the Summer of Independence, a tumultuous period of tavern meetings, military encampments, horse-and-carriage transport, and menacing warships, with insights from an array of colorful individuals such as the Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the acerbic senior Lutheran pastor living in Trappe, Montgomery County, who was distressed by the war and Pennsylvania’s new state constitution.


Rooney, A Sporting Life

by Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson, and Michael P. Weber
published by the University of Nebraska Press, 2011; 641 pages, paper, $24.95

Born to an Irish Catholic working-class family on Pittsburgh’s North Side, Arthur J. “Art” Rooney (1901–1988) dabbled in semi-professional baseball and boxing before discovering that his real talent lay not in playing sports but in promoting them. Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson, and Michael P. Weber, authors of Rooney, A Sporting Life, contend that although their subject was at the center of boxing, baseball, and racing in Pittsburgh and beyond, he is best known for his contribution to the National Football League (NFL), in particular to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he had founded in 1933.

As Rooney led the team in its early years, he came to be known as football’s greatest loser. His influence, however, was instrumental in making the NFL the best-run league in American professional sports. The authors show how Rooney guided professional football, as well as the Steelers, through the Great Depression, World War II, the ascension of television, and the development of the NFL. The book follows the man often referred to as “The Chief” through the team’s dynasty years under his sons, with four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s alone.

An authoritative look at one of the most iconic figures in the history of the NFL, Rooney, A Sporting Life, is both a critical chapter in the story of football in the United States and a thoroughly engaging, in-depth introduction to a character unlike any other in the annals of American sports.


So Bravely and So Well: The Life and Art of William T. Trego

by Joseph P. Eckhardt
published by the James A. Michener Art Museum, 2011; 146 pages, cloth, $39.95

He was a painter who could barely hold a brush. He had to move his entire body to mix his colors. Yet, William T. Trego (1858–1909) was a prize-winning artist with an international reputation, and his highly detailed and powerful battle scenes of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War were widely exhibited and critically acclaimed during the late nineteenth century. Partially paralyzed by a childhood illness, Trego never experienced the horrors of war, but his uncanny ability to portray warfare from the view of fighting men and horses was much admired.

Born in Yardley, Bucks County, and trained by his father, artist Jonathan K. Trego (1817–1909), he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and the Academie Julian in Paris. Two of his works were accepted in the annual exhibits of the Paris Salon. His decision to devote himself to military history painting was made early on, a choice possibly influenced by the Civil War, which raged during the years of his boyhood. Despite his severe physical challenges, Trego created his dramatic battle scenes with meticulous care, staging recreations of skirmishes outdoors with models wearing authentic uniforms drawn from his private collection. Only after making countless charcoal sketches and working up individual soldiers and horses did he begin applying paint to his final canvas.

So Bravely and So Well: The Life and Art of William T. Trego by Joseph P. Eckhardt, the first full-length study of the artist, places him in the context of his world and the art of his time. Previously unexplored original source materials, as well as studies of his surviving works, have altered and enhanced what has been known about Trego’s career. Recently discovered sketches, letters, and family stories have been blended with the known facts to form a three-dimensional portrait of a remarkable individual unwilling to be limited by his disability. His largely unknown work as a sculptor, illustrator, genre painter, and teacher are explored in So Bravely and So Well, along with his failed romances, his fierce determination to maintain his financial independence, and his ultimately tragic end by committing suicide at the age of fifty-one at his home in North Wales, Montgomery County. In 2008, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a state historical marker at Trego’s former residence at 509 E. Montgomery Ave., North Wales, recognizing his artistic accomplishments.