Nebraska Stories Lost in the Stacks

At the age of 17, Randall Hunsacker shoots his mother’s boyfriend, steals a car and comes close to killing himself. His second chance lies in a small Nebraska farm town, where the landmarks include McKibben’s Mobil Station, Frmka’s Superette, and a sign that says The Wages of Sin is Hell. This is Goodnight, a place so ingrown and provincial that Randall calls it “Sludgeville”-until he starts thinking of it as home.

After the death of his parents, Jim Burden is sent to live with his grandparents on the Nebraska plains. On that same train is Ántonia, his soon to be neighbor and lifelong friend. Her family has emigrated from Bohemia to start a new life but soon lose their money and must work hard just to survive. Through it all, Ántonia retains her natural pride and free spirit. In My Ántonia, Willa Cather paints a rich picture of life on the prairie at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In 1973 the small southwest Nebraska railroad town of McCook became the unlikely scene of a grisly murder. More than forty years later, author James W. Hewitt returns to the scene and unearths new details about what happened. Hewitt takes readers through the evidence, including salacious details of sex and intrigue between the Hoyts and the Nokeses, and draws new conclusions about what really happened between the two families on that fateful September night.

Burt and Vicky, a couple trying to save their marriage, are driving to California for a vacation and to visit Vicky’s brother. Driving through the cornfields in rural Nebraska, they accidentally run over a young boy—only to discover that he was already hurt and they may not be responsible for his death. They decide to report the incident to the police and go to the nearest two to look for help. Out in the corn, something is watching them, and help is nowhere to be found.

During the war, American soldiers rolled through North Platte on troop trains. The town transformed its railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen –a place where soldiers could enjoy coffee, music, and home-cooked food. In this heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the GIs who passed through, Bob Greene unearths and reveals a classic American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt called for the largest arms buildup in our nation’s history. A shortage of steel, however, quickly slowed the program’s momentum, and arms production fell dangerously behind schedule. Henry Doorly, publisher of the Omaha World-Herald, had the solution. Prairie Forge tells the story of the great Nebraska scrap drive of 1942—a campaign that swept the nation and yielded five million tons of scrap metal.

Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family and as the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed.

Matthew Worth is a mess. Somewhere between a good cop and a bad screwup, he botched a marriage and a career. Busted to night patrol at a robbery-prone Omaha supermarket, Worth is doing time, wearing his uniform and asking shoppers if they want paper or plastic. If that isn’t enough, he suspects he might be falling for Gwen, the shy checkout girl who may be an even bigger mess than he is. It couldn’t get any worse. Until it does.

In June, 1954, Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska from the work farmwhere he has just served a year for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, and the family farm foreclosed upon, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his brother and start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden in the trunk of the car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future.

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