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

Keystone of Justice: The Pennsylvania Superior Court

By Patrick J. Tamilia and John J. Hare
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, 2000 (366 pages; cloth, $29.95; paper, $19.95)

A result of crisis in appellate proceedings, once solely the domain of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was the creation, in 1895, of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. More than twenty years earlier, the Constitutional Convention of 1873 addressed measures of relief for the Supreme Court, which was woefully backlogged, but the debate failed to congeal consensus. With the Industrial Revolution still in full swing during an era of prosperity that historians call the Gilded Age, the Keystone State (and the nation) found progress impeded by the Jack of a definitive judicial system. The General Assembly of Pennsylvania did what the convention could not do: it created an intermediate court of appeals to relieve the Supreme Court of its backlog. The state legislature’s initiative expedited appeals and provided a vehicle for the rapidly developing industrial Commonwealth to construe legislation, resolve disputes, and give guidance to evolving concepts and principles of law in economics, crime, family, torts, and government affairs. In his introduction, Superior Court Judge Patrick R. Tamilia explains that “the foundations [of a judicial system] in Pennsylvania had been laid with one of the best and earliest constitutions and the first Supreme Court in the nation. The industrialization of the Gilded Age and the wealth it created, accompanied by the negative consequences of lais­sez-faire policies, a disproportionate distribution of the wealth generated, and the widespread corruption, graft, and special legislation, impacted heavily upon the judicial system and ultimately on the Supreme Court. The pressures generated by the burgeoning appeals demanded the relief, which was afforded by creation of the Su­perior Court. Progressive legislation and a sound legal and judicial system were necessary to prevent this revolution from self­-destructing.” The authors trace the history of the Superior Court, from these late nineteenth-century origins to the emergence of a “modern” court during the last two decades of the twentieth century. Among the subjects discussed in this book are criminal law, juvenile law, Progressivism, Prohibition, un­fair trade practices, labor law, war cases, and proposals to change the court. Organized chronologically, Keystone of Justice addresses not only the issues and initiatives affecting the judicial process, but it portrays the individuals who made an impact, whether negative or positive, on the dispensation of justice in Pennsylvania.


The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual

By Ann Fowler Rhoads and Timothy A. Block
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000 (1,061 pages, cloth, $69.95)

A state of diverse geography and geology, Pennsylvania is rich in flora (see “Growing Bigger and Better Year by Year” by Liz Ball in the spring 2001 issue). The knowledge of the plants of Pennsylva­nia is derived from the accumulated record of botanical exploration built up in museum collections of herbarium (dried plant) specimens. These collections reflect early activity, dating to the opening years of the nineteenth century, and continue to be updated to document changes in the flora or to record new discoveries. Major herbarium collections are maintained by the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, and The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, although smaller, more regional collections do exist at colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth (see “A Flowering for the Ages” by Albert G. Mehring, Summer 1998). Using information gleaned from these repositories, The Plants of Pennsylvania: An illustrated Manual is the definitive tool for identifying the thirty-four hundred species of flowering plants, ferns, and gymnosperms (plants whose seeds are not contained within an ovary, such as a conifer) native or naturalized in the Commonwealth. The manual includes keys to families, gen­era, and species; extensive diagnostic illustrations; scientific and common names; and data on distribution ranges, relative frequency, rare and endangered species, blooming and fruiting periods, taxonomic notes, and an illustrated glossary. Developed in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Flora Database project and compiled by botanists at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s official arboretum, located in Chestnut Hill, The Plants of Pennsylvania is an authoritative, accessible guide to the plant life of the Keystone State. It will be indispensable to taxonomists, conservationists, ecologists, land planners, gardening enthusiasts, and amateur naturalists. Hundreds of drawings by Anna Anisko, botanical illustrator of the Morris Arboretum, complement the text.


Bat­tle of Paoli

By Thomas J. McGuire
Stackpole Books, 2000 (288 pages, cloth, $24.95)

Described by historian and author David McCullough as a “first-rate military history” written “with such spirit and such a sure mastery of telling detail,” Battle of Paoli is drawn on never-­before-published sources, including the personal papers of many of the individuals involved in what has become better known not as the Battle of Paoli, but as the Paoli Massacre. In the years since the American Revolution, legend has obscured the story of the battle in which British General Charles Grey attacked General Anthony Wayne’s division of fifteen hundred soldiers in Septem­ber 1777. This highly detailed account follows the action from the arrival of Wayne’s troops south of the Schuylkill River, near Paoli Tavern, to defend Philadelphia against the encroaching troops of the British general, Sir William Howe, to Grey’s discovery of Wayne’s position, the brutal – and bloody – battle that ensued, and the subsequent court-martial of Wayne, who has been accused of negligence. The slaughter in Montgomery County, although a defeat for the American side, united the troops and helped to rally more soldiers to the cause of independence. Beginning with the events leading up to the battle, the book explores the conflicting loyalties of the civilians and the soldiers, the frustrations of the fledgling Continental Army, and the attitudes of the British towards the rebels. The battle itself is brought to life in vivid detail, revealing both its pageantry and its pathos. A discussion of the aftermath of the encounter explains what the defeat and the loss of Philadelphia meant for the Americans. Bat­tle of Paoli tells the compelling saga of how a singular event can impact the outcome of a much larger struggle.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on Kentuck Knob

By Donald Hoffman
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000 (98 pages, cloth, $18.95)

Nearly everyone knows the master architect’s masterpiece on Bear Run in southeastern Fayette County, Fallingwater, which was recently designated a Commonwealth Treasure by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (see “Curator’s Choice,” Fall 2000), but it’s likely far fewer are aware of another mountain house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, also situated in southwestern Pennsylvania. Inspired, in fact, by Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob was commissioned by F.N. Hagan, president of the I.N. Hagan Jee Cream Company, and his wife Bernadine Landis Hagan, of Uniontown. In 1953, Wright, at the age of eighty-six, tackled the Hagan commission, designing what has been de­scribed as a “luminous but modest house.” Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on Kentuck Knob vividly recounts the story of how the house came to be, detailing the many complexities faced by the Hagans – for the delights and difficulties in dealing with Wright to the problems with topography, architectural plans, and the siting of the mountain retreat. In fulfilling Wright’s vision, the Hagans and their contractor created a building of great elegance, dignity, and serenity, which is beautifully portrayed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on Kentuck Knob. More than fifty photographs, drawings, and diagrams accompany a descriptive narrative to illustrate how the peculiarities of Wright’s plan, based on the equilateral triangle, resulted in a dwelling that generates countless vistas, indoors and out, and spatial effects of charm and intimacy. (Kentuck Knob, located just seven miles southwest of Fallingwater, is now open for public tours. For information, write: Kentuck Knob, Post Office Box 305, Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania 15421-0305; or telephone 727/329-1901.)


The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm

By Michael A Dreese
McFarland and Company, 2000 (190 pages, cloth, $45.00)

The Battle of Gettysburg, which raged during the first three days of July 1863, is often remembered for the Union’s defense of Little Round Top by General Joshua L. Chamberlain, by Confed­erate Generals George E. Pickett and James J. Pettigrew’s tragic charge, and by the valiant stand of the “Iron Brigade,” during which the North’s beloved General John F. Reynolds was killed instantly by enemy fire. However, less-remembered units – such as the 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers – were also crucial in the Civil War’s most famous battle. Relatively untried and nearing the end of its nine-month term of service, the 151st Pennsylvania nonetheless served courageously and suffered greatly in important actions against General Pettigrew’s North Carolinians on the first day of battle, and was involved in repulsing the Confederate charge two days later. The author contends that during the course of the battle, the 151st Pennsylvania lost more than sev­enty-two percent of its men to capture, wounds, and death, the second-highest percentage of losses of Union troops engaged at Gettysburg. The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm is an account of the brave (and often overlooked) unit and its role in this decisive moment in American history. Featuring a foreword by noted Civil War scholar Timothy H. Smith, the book also contains photographs, maps, bibliography, and index. The subtitle is extracted from a letter written by William Oren Blodget, an officer of the 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers, to his wife in northwestern Pennsylvania, on July 2, 1863. His letter was written the day after his regiment had participated in the bloody opening round of fighting at Gettysburg. “Our poor boys fell around me like ripe apples in a storm,” wrote Blodget. “God Bless Them! They were and are heroes, every one.”