Illinois 101 Recommending Reading List

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July 16, 2020 - Institute Invites Submissions to Illinois 101 Recommended Reading List

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s Renewing Illinois program encourages Illinois college and university students to discuss and debate creative solutions to revitalize the Prairie State. While preparing background materials for the students who will participate in our annual summit, we recognized the need to provide additional sources to allow them to delve more deeply into the history, politics, and literature of Illinois.

To that end, we have compiled a recommended reading list. We asked more than twenty-five prominent Illinoisans to respond to the question: If you were teaching an “Illinois 101” course to highly motivated undergraduates, what five books you would assign them to read? They can be histories, biographies, novels, or essays. In sum, they would provide a wide-ranging and nuanced understanding of Illinois.

The Institute received a remarkable range of recommendations. We pass this list on to all who are looking for a good read and a better understanding of Illinois. 

Download PDF of the Recommended Reading List

RICHARD DURBIN, U.S. SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS
Frontier Illinois
by James Davis, 1998.
Lovejoy: Martyr to Freedom by Paul Simon, 1964.
City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America by Donald Miller, 1996.
Bloody Williamson by Paul Angle, 1969.
Henry Horner and his Burden of Tragedy by Thomas B. Littlewood, 2007.
Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 1995.

Additional Reading
The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Beating the Curse by Tom Verducci, 2017.

JIM EDGAR, FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR
Horner of Illinois by Thomas Littlewood, 1969.
Bipartisan Coalition in Illinois by Thomas B. Littlewood, 1960.
Clout: Mayor Daley and His City by Len O’Connor, 1975.
Bloody Williamson by Paul Angle, 1969.
Illinois History: A Reader by Mark Hubbard, 2018.

RAY LAHOOD, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION, FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN
Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State by James D. Nowlan and J. Thomas Johnson, 2014.
Robert Michel: Leading the Republican House Minority edited by Frank H. Mackaman and Sean Q. Kelly, 2019.
The Education of a Senator by Everett McKinley Dirksen, 1998.
Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original by Robert E. Hartley, 2009.
Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics by Ray LaHood with Frank H. Mackaman, 2015.

SHEILA SIMON, LAW PROFESSOR - SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY, FORMER ILLINOIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg, 1939. 
Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 1995. 
Song of My Life by Harry Mark Petrakis, 2014.
Bloody Williamson by Paul Angle, 1969.
Gwendolyn Brooks. Anything.

GLENN POSHARD, FOUNDER - POSHARD FOUNDATION, FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT - SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg, 1939.
Cornhuskers by Carl Sandburg, 1918.
Southern Illinois: A Photographer’s Love for the Countryside and its Beauty by Ned Trovillion, 1995.
Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement by Steven Ashby and C.J. Hawking, 2009.
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, 2000.
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, 1915.
The Little Theatre on the Square: Four Decades of a Small-Town Equity Theatre by Beth Conway Shervey, 2000.

PAULA WOLFF, POLICY ADVISOR - ILLINOIS JUSTICE PROJECT
Jane Addams, Spirit in Action by Louise Knight, 2010.
From Bullet to Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago by Jakobi Williams, 2013.
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Moore, 2016.
Frances Willard: A Biography by Ruth Bordin, 1986.
Family Properties: How The Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America by Beryl Satter, 2009.
Creating the Land of Lincoln: The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870 by Frank Cicero Jr., 2018.

JIM NOWLAN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, FORMER ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE, FORMER PROFESSOR - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko, 1971.
Illinois: A History of the Prairie State
by Robert Howard, 1972.
Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
by William Cronon, 1991.
Trilogy of Desire: The Financier, The Titan, The Stoic
by Theodore Dreiser, 1972.
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and War Years
by Carl Sandburg, 1939.

SAMUEL WHEELER, ILLINOIS STATE HISTORIAN
Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi by Timothy R. Pauketat, 2009.
Creating the Land of Lincoln: The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870
by Frank Cicero Jr., 2018.
City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America
by Donald Miller, 1996.
Illinois: A History of the Land and its People
by Roger Biles, 2005.
Finding a New Midwestern History edited
by Jon K. Lauck, Gleaves Whitney, and Joseph Hogan, 2018.

Additional Reading
Kaskaskia: The Lost Capital of Illinois
by David MacDonald and Raine Waters, 2019.
Frontier Illinois
by James Davis, 1998.
Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy
by Paul Simon, 1994.
Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
by William Cronon, 1991.
Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919
by William M. Tuttle Jr., 1996.
The Illinois Governors: Mostly Good and Competent Men
by Robert P. Howard, 1988.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama, 1995.

DAVID JOENS, DIRECTOR - ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
The Illinois Governors: Mostly Good and Competent Men by Robert Howard, 1988.
Creating the Land of Lincoln: The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870 by Frank Cicero Jr., 2018.
Corn Kings & One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois by James Krohe Jr., 2017.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, 2003.
Illinois Vignettes by John H. Keiser, 1977.

Additional Reading
Bloody Williamson by Paul Angle, 1969.
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Illinois by Mike Royko, 1971.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906.
Illinois: A History of the Prairie State by Robert Howard, 1972.
The Illinois State Archives: 100 Most Valuable Documents online exhibit:
https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/online_exhibits/100_documents

ROGER BILES, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY - ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY,
AUTHOR OF ILLINOIS: A HISTORY OF THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE

Twenty Years at Hull-House
by Jane Addams, 1910.
Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon, 1991.
The Social Order of a Frontier Community by Don Harrison Doyle, 1983.
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America by Nicholas Lemann, 1991. 
Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People by Roger Biles, 2005.

FRANK CICERO, JR., ATTORNEY - KIRKLAND AND ELLIS, AUTHOR OF CREATING THE LAND OF LINCOLN: THE HISTORY AND CONSTITUTIONS OF ILLINOIS, 1778-1870
Nathaniel Pope, 1784–1850: A Memoir, Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society by Paul Angle, 1936.
French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times by Carl Ekberg, 1998.
Confronting Slavery: Edward Coles and the Rise of Anti-Slavery Politics in Nineteenth-Century America by Suzanne Cooper Guasco, 2013.
The Illinois and Michigan Canal: A Study in Economic History by James William Putnam, 1918.
Lincoln’s Preparation for Greatness: The Illinois Legislative Years by Paul Simon, 1971.

ERIKA HAROLD, ATTORNEY - MEYER CAPEL, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL
There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz, 1991.
Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality by Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson, 2015.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906.
The Transformation of Rural Life: Southern Illinois, 1890-1990 by Jane H. Adams, 1994.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 2012.

CHUCK LEVESQUE, PRESIDENT - DEPAUL USA
Fair Weather by Richard Peck, 2001.
Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle, 2016.
Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg, 1922.
The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks by Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Elizabeth Alexander, 2005.
City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America by Donald Miller, 1996.

GREG SHAW, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR - ILLINOIS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, 2010.
Division Street: America by Studs Terkel, 1967.
There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz, 1991.
The Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois: Paul Powell, Clyde L. Choate, and John H. Stelle by Robert Hartley, 2016.
Frontier Illinois by James E. Davis, 1998.

CHRISTOPHER BELT, ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR, 57TH DISTRICT 
A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr., 2009.
Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy
by Paul Simon, 1994.
A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
by Robert Cherny, 1985.
Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America
by Elliott Gorn, 2001.
Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun’s Historic Senate Campaign
by Jeannie Morris, 2015.

EMANUEL “CHRIS” WELCH, ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 7TH DISTRICT
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, 2000.
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko, 1971.
Mayor Harold Washington: Champion of Race and Reform by Roger Biles, 2018.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 1995.
Our Culture of Pandering by Paul Simon, 2003.

LATOYA GREENWOOD, ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 114TH DISTRICT
Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Harper Barnes, 2008.
Harold, The People’s Mayor: The Biography of Harold Washington by Dempsey Travis, 1989.
There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz, 1991.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, 2006.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, 1959.

TERRI BRYANT, ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 115TH DISTRICT
Down Don’t Bother Me: A Novel by Jason Miller, 2015.
Sins of the South: Big Secrets in a Small Town by Maureen Hughes, 2012.
Roadside History of Illinois by Stan Banash, 2013.
When Lincoln Came to Egypt by George Smith, 2016.
The State of Southern Illinois: An Illustrated History by Herbert Russell, 2012.

MIKE LAWRENCE, FORMER DIRECTOR - PAUL SIMON PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE
Dirksen: Portrait of a Public Man by Neil MacNeil, 1970.
Governor Richard Ogilvie: In the Interest of the State
by Taylor Pensoneau, 1997.
The Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois: Paul Powell, Clyde L. Choate, and John H. Stelle
by Robert Hartley, 2016.
Bloody Williamson
by Paul Angle, 1969.
The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America
by Ethan Michaeli, 2016.

Additional Reading
The Illinois Tax Increase of 1983: Summit and Resolution
by Joan Parker, 1984.
Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy by Paul Simon, 1994.
Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois by John Bartlow Martin, 1976.
We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent: An Oral History of the Daley Years by Milton L. Rakove, 1979.

BERNARD SCHOENBURG, POLITICAL REPORTER AND COLUMNIST, STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko, 1971.
Paul Powell of Illinois: A Lifelong Democrat by Robert E. Hartley, 1999.
Governor Richard Ogilvie: In the Interest of the State by Taylor Pensoneau, 1997.
Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor’s Office and Into Prison by Jeff Coen and John Chase, 2012.
The Illinois Governors: Mostly Good and Competent by Robert Howard, 1988.

Additional Reading
Dan Walker: The Glory and the Tragedy
by Taylor Pensoneau and Bob Ellis, 1993.
Len Small: Governors and Gangsters by Jim Ridings, 2009.

JOHN SHAW, DIRECTOR - PAUL SIMON PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE
Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon, 1991.
The Heartland: An American History by Kristin L. Hoganson, 2019.
Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics by Ray LaHood with Frank H. Mackaman, 2015. 
In the Fullness of Time: The Memoirs of Paul H. Douglas, 1972.
P.S.: The Autobiography of Paul Simon, 1994.

Additional Reading
One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach, and A Magical Baseball Season
by
Chris Ballard, 2012.
Played in Peoria by Jerry Klein Sr., 1980.
Cleared for Takeoff: A Pilot’s Story of Challenges and Triumphs by William R. Norwood, 2014.