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Fireworks in the mind: books and movies to celebrate the Fourth of July

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Fireworks. Picnics. Parades. There are many ways to celebrate American Independence Day. Book and movie lovers can turn to the following:

1776 by David McCullough, a true classic, covers the first year of the American Revolutionary War. Like all of McCullough's books, it is an easy read, if dense. It is even better to listen to! David McCullough reads this particular book; McCullough is "that guy from PBS" whose voice can be heard in numerous documentaries: the calm voice of history.

There is, of course, 1776, the musical. It bears no relationship to the above book although Nita Heerk has it on a good authority from her niece that it contains enjoyable songs.

Speaking of movies, Independence Day with Will Smith and Bill Pullman (and a dozen or more other memorable actors/actresses) is a hokey, fun, sentimental, and sensational roller-coaster ride. A great way to have fun on the fourth!

A more serious film of George Washington's crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night 1776 is the well-rendered The Crossing starring Jeff Daniels.

Books about the crossing include The Crossing by Howard Fast and, more recently, The Crossing: How George Washington Saved the American Revolution by Jim Murphy.

If a reader wants fiction, there is The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope (author of Newbery Honor Book The Perilous Gard) which involves a mystery, time travel and romance, all surrounding research into the Revolutionary War era.

So if, as looks likely in some areas of the country, rain stops you at home over the fourth, a book or movie can keep you in a celebratory mood!


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