New books: Eisenhower, prairie fires, Kansas for kids

Our 34th president is experiencing a resurgence in popularity – well deserved – as evidenced by the number of recent books about him. “Eisenhower: The White House Years” by Jim Newton (Doubleday, 357 pages, $29.95) adds a thorough, well-researched chronicle of the eight years Ike spent in office.

While Winfield professor David A. Nichols’ two excellent books “Eisenhower 1956” and “A Matter of Justice” focused on particular aspects of the Eisenhower presidency, “Eisenhower: The White House Years” takes a broad view. Beginning with a brief overview of Ike’s young life and military career, the book delves deeply into each of Eisenhower’s terms, the crises – foreign and domestic – and the president’s chosen issues. Newton shows how Eisenhower moved from military command to leading the country and highlights the experience and wisdom he brought to the office, while weaving in the events and culture of 1950s America as well.

Fire, always a crucial element on the prairie, gets its own history in “Prairie Fire” by Julie Courtwright (University Press of Kansas, 193 pages, $29.95). Butler County native Courtwright goes back 500 years to discuss the ways humans have influenced the prairie ecosystem through both controlled burns and fire suppression.

The book is somewhat academic – and meticulously sourced – but filled with lively anecdotes and firsthand accounts drawn from newspapers, diaries, various records and eyewitness accounts.

This week is Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week, and the book chosen is “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Kansas author Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, with illustrations by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books, 32 pages, $7.99). In this colorful, rhyming book, all the letters of the alphabet race to the top of a coconut tree, and tumble down in a heap when the weight is too much.

The project is sponsored by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

For older children, the Kansas Historical Society has released “Kid’s Kansas,” a full-color activity book featuring puzzles, games, stickers and other activities related to Kansas’ history, culture and geography. It even has pull-out trading cards of famous Kansans.

The historical society is offering free copies of the book to any Kansas fourth-grade teacher. For more information about the book, including where it’s sold and how to order it, visit

Local author George Warholak has scheduled a book-signing for his book “The Reprobate” (Tate Publishing, 231 pages, $18.99 paper). The event is from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble at Bradley Fair, 1920 N. Rock Road.