Book about state history takes national award

Bruce Dearstyne

GUILDERLAND — Author and town resident Bruce W. Dearstyne has received a national award for his 2015 book on New York history, “The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State’s History.”

The award is from the American Association for State and Local History, and is one of 63 given this year, honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications across the country.

Dearstyne’s book focuses on, he told The Enterprise soon after it was published, “exciting and revealing events” in state history, “turning points with interesting people behind them.”

His book opens with the 1777 state constitution and ends with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; the chapter on 9/11 focuses on the way that the New York Fire Department transformed itself in response to that day’s events.

Each of its 15 chapters examines a dramatic event in state history, such as the tenant farmers’ rebellion in Berne; the campaign for women’s rights by Elizabeth Cady Stanton; pilot-and-inventor Glenn Curtiss’s first-ever flight, in 1910, from Albany to New York City; and Jackie Robinson’s integration of major league baseball.

In announcing the award, the AASLH wrote, “This book makes history come alive. The momentous events illustrate the ‘spirit’ of New York—the elusive traits that make New York State unique and a leader among the fifty states—and the complexity of its history.”

Dearstyne told The Enterprise, about the award, “Of course I am proud but, more important, I hope this will help bring more attention to New York state and local history.”


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