Stephen Crane was born in 1871–six years after the Civil War. He was the youngest of 14 children from an impoverished family, but he persevered, and matured into a newspaper correspondent, and an author. At 24, he attained international fame with the publication of The Red Badge of Courage, a tale about a teenager who enlists in the Union Army. One hundred twenty-eight years later, it is still widely read.
Crane was not in good health. According to History.com, he “contracted tuberculosis in his late 20s. Cora Howard Taylor nursed him while he wrote furiously in an attempt to pay off his debts. He exhausted himself and exacerbated his condition. He died in June 1900, at the age of 28.”
The Grateful American Book Prize suggests The Red Badge of Courage.
On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen made history. He pitched a “perfect” game—the fifth– against the Dodger’s, a feat that has occurred only 24 times; in 150 years of baseball of baseball history, he is the only person to achieve the distinction in the midst of a World Series.
According to History.com, “Larsen did not pitch well in Game 2 of the 1956 Series. In the second inning at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers knocked Larsen from the game in their 13-8 win. Larsen didn’t know he would start Game 5 three days later until he found a fresh baseball in one of his cleats in the locker room—that was Yankees manager Casey Stengel’s way of telling a pitcher that it was his day to pitch.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Perfect: Don Larsen’s Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen by Lew Paper.
On October 14, 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager did what other pilots’ thought was impossible: he piloted his X-1 super-jet over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California and broke the sound barrier–at more than 662 miles per hour.
Yeager participated in 64 missions over Europe –during World War II—that rubbed out 13 German planes; “…[he] was…shot down over France, but…escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground,” according to History.com. “After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.”
Yeager died Dec 7, 2020—the 79th anniversary of Pearl Harbor–and of his entering World War II.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize endorses Yeager: An Autobiography.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.