The Library Reads – “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott

LiarTemptressSoldierSpy“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott tells the little-known story of four women who were spies during the Civil War. While this book is non-fiction, it reads like a thrilling espionage novel. Thoroughly researched with an impressive list of documentation by the author, it tells the compelling stories of four courageous women—Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a widow and Washington socialite; Belle Boyd, a small town girl from Martinsburg, Virginia (later West Virginia); Sarah Emma Edmonds, a Canadian farm girl; and Elizabeth Van Lew, a Virginia abolitionist.

Greenhow was a strong supporter of the Southern cause. She charmed top military leaders and senators to glean information and send it to her friend General P. G. T. Beauregard (USMA 1838). She was credited by confederate authorities for providing the key information which allowed First Manassas to be a victory. Eventually, Greenhow and her young daughter, who was involved in her spying activities, were arrested by the North and became some of the first women detained during the war.

Boyd, loyal to the Southern cause, coaxed many Northern politicians into divulging secrets. With sheer determination, she served as a courier by carrying intelligence to her hero Stonewall Jackson (USMA 1846). When Jackson was about to attack Front Royal, Virginia in May of 1862, she ran onto the battlefield to provide the General with last minute information about the Union troop dispositions. Boyd was arrested six or seven times, and was far from being a model inmate: she waved Confederate flags from her window, sang Dixie, and devised a unique method of communicating with supporters outside.

Edmonds, who cut her hair off and passed herself as a man, served the North as a soldier/spy in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Edmonds signed up as a male field nurse in the Second Volunteers of the United States Army under her alias Franklin Flint Thompson. In March 1862, she was reassigned as a mail carrier for her regiment. A few months later, one of General George McClellan’s (USMA 1846) spies was caught and executed by the Confederate Army; Edmonds volunteered for the open position. In the spring of 1863, Edmonds developed malaria. Out of fear of being discovered as a woman, she deserted. While Frank Thompson was listed as a deserter, Edmonds resumed worked as a nurse in war- torn Virginia for the remainder of the Civil War.

Van Lew lived in Richmond yet remained loyal to the Union. Her efforts at assisting Yankee soldiers escaping from Confederate prisons, and runaway slaves from their masters were no small feat during war time. Her neighbors, as well as the government, suspected her of such treason but were never able to catch her in the act. One of Elizabeth Van Lew’s loyal servants, Mary Bowser, served as a slave in the White House of the Confederacy. Because of Mary’s photographic memory, she able to provide extremely important information based on what she heard and read in Jefferson Davis’ (USMA 1828) Confederate White House.

A note regarding how the book is laid out: the author choose to chronicle the characters, moving back and forth between the figures, to tell the entire saga in accordance with the timeline. Initially I started reading “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” on an electronic device, however, I found it difficult to go back and review previous entries about a character. Thus, I personally found reading this in traditional print form more desirable.

“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” is beautifully written and a real page-turner. The book serves as a reminder that the heroes of our history are often found in the most unexpected places.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2014)

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Barbara Maroney-French, Facilities Support Assistant

USMA Library Transitions to Summer Hours

Effective, Friday, June 12, 2015, USMA Library is operating on our summer hours. This means the library will close at 1630 on most days and will also remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. There are some exceptions to these hours. For specific hours for any day, please see our Hours page.

We will resume extended hours to support the Fall Term on Monday, August 10, 2015.

Books at JSTOR

479149414_640We’ve recently increased our book collection by adding over 20,000 electronic book titles to the USMA Library collection. How, you may ask? Through our excellent new resource, Books at JSTOR.

Many of you are already familiar with JSTOR Journals, and Books at JSTOR works just like its other database. Books at JSTOR offers eBooks that are easily accessible through our SCOUT search on the library website.

This collection of academic books is drawn largely (but not exclusively) from university presses and covers 14 subject areas, including Science & Technology, Political Science, Sustainability, Sociology and History, among others. Do a keyword or title search in SCOUT, then retrieve the book by clicking on the URL at the bottom of the result you select.

JSTOR SCOUT search

Benefits of Books at JSTOR

  • High-quality scholarly content: Important titles from leading academic publishers, including Princeton University Press, Yale University Press, Harvard University Press, and many more
  • Easy to use: For example, journal articles, book chapters can be read online or downloaded as PDF files that never expire

Other nice features:

  • No logging in and no special software required
  • Unlimited downloads; unlimited copy and paste
  • Access is 24 x 7
  • New titles added monthly

Users will be able to:

  • View eBook chapters online
  • View books even if another user is “using” the book, as JSTOR offers unlimited simultaneous access– AND they never expire
  • Download and print (please remember the environment) a PDF of a chapter
  • Cross-search eBooks and journals for related content JSTOR cross-searchiing

 

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Manja Yirka,  Continuing Resources Librarian

 

App of the Week – Adobe Slate

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

logoslateWould you like to create a powerful visual for an assignment or presentation, but don’t have a lot of time or design skills? Adobe Slate is a new “visual storytelling” app that creates polished, easily shareable magazine-esque websites. You can create beautiful presentations, newsletters, reports, and more on your iPad in a matter of minutes–no design expertise needed. This is one of those apps where you simply have to jump in and play around; the app intuitively guides you through your new creation.

Here’s a quick story I created about USMA Library in less than 10 minutes (click on the image below to view story):

USMA Library

Most Helpful Features:

  • Very easy to use – you immediately choose a title, subtitle, theme, and main photo, and then add to your story as needed. The story continues vertically until you scroll to the end.
  • Creates beautiful visuals; currently, you can choose between 11 distinct themes.
  • Themes are meant to translate to any device, so you don’t have to worry about formatting for desktop vs. iPad.
  • Pulling photos in for your presentation is easy – use photos from your iPad or Dropbox, take a photo, or you can choose “Find a Photo” and search through Creative Commons-licensed photos.
  • You can choose to make your Slate public, or keep it private (only people you share the link with can view it)
  • You can automatically share your Slate with Facebook, Twitter, email, or iMessage, or you can share the link created immediately after uploading.

Downsides:

  • The choice of only 11 themes and staying within that theme may feel limiting, but the sacrifice of choice is what speeds along the process (and keeps the story visually consistent).
  • There is no undo/redo feature, which is a little unusual.
  • Video is not supported at this time.
  • You can’t host the story on your own site – the link will always point to Adobe’s pages. The embed code will display your headline and opening image.
  • You can’t remove the “Made with Adobe Slate” branding at the bottom of your story.

Bottom Line:

Adobe Slate is a free, easy-to-use app that allows you to create visually stunning, professional-looking stories for any purpose you can think of. As always, if you try it out, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Adobe Slate review: Adobe Slate for iPad makes telling stories with photos much easier

Hands-on: Adobe Slate takes another stab at “visual stories”

Adobe’s Slate Is A Visual Storytelling App For The iPad

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

App of the Week – Skitch

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

logoSince Evernote consistently delivers helpful apps that help us work smarter, we decided to try out Skitch, an Evernote-owned annotation tool with the tagline: “Snap. Mark up. Send.” It really is that easy. It could be called Snapchat for productivity, except that you (and/or your recipient) get to keep the photo.

Skitch allows you to annotate/draw on/mark-up any website, photo, map, or PDF of your choosing. You can also draw and annotate an idea from scratch. Skitch aims to facilitate visual communication (marking up a photo or map to highlight points for others), but it also allows you to simply make better use of your own notes. Need to study for anatomy? Just use the text and arrows to label a photo you snapped from your textbook. Want to screencap or scan your notes and highlight them for use on your iPad? The possibilities are endless.

USMASite

Most Helpful Features:

  • Simple, easy-to-use interface.
  • Each document choice (photo, maps, etc.) provides the same mark-up tools – you can add text, colorful arrows, shapes, stamps, and even emoticons. You can even use the pixelation feature to blur out information you don’t want to share (or distract others with).
  • Allows you to export your items to Evernote, email, Facebook, Twitter, and many other compatible apps.
  • You can configure your settings to automatically upload shared photos to your Camera Roll.

Downsides:

One of the more helpful features of the app–PDF mark-up–is only provided as a one-time in-app purchase of $1.99. However, if you read a lot of PDFs on your iPad and plan to take notes on them, it will be worth it to pay for this feature. It costs less than your morning coffee, and will save your printing allowance (and the environment).

EmailSkitch

Bottom Line:

Skitch is a simple mark-up tool that allows you to visually communicate with others quickly and easily. As always, if you try it out, please feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Review: Skitch lets you visually highlight images to help your point

Staff Picks: Sketch a little here and there with Skitch

Skitch is a multi-purpose editing tool for doodling on any document

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

App of the Week – Lingua.ly

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

maxresdefaultWhile learning a new language, you can never have too many resources at your disposal. If you’ve started using an app like Duolingo to get familiar with another language’s vocabulary, you’ll be looking for ways to test your new skills in the real world. The Lingua.ly app provides an immersive language experience by allowing you to read online articles–generally recent headline news–in the language of your choice, on a topic of your choice.

While it may be helpful to have a little vocabulary knowledge of the language you’re trying to read in, the app still works well for beginners because it lets you “select” every word you don’t understand. The app then translates the word and pronounces it for you. It also remembers all the words you select, and these become your ongoing vocabulary words. You can practice these words at any time, or keep reading through articles – the app adapts the articles it shows you to what you’re learning!

GermanSports

Most Helpful Features:

  • Completely free – and it’s also ad free.
  • No set lessons, so essentially, you’re deciding what you learn by choosing specific articles to read.
  • The app only suggests articles for you that are on your level (which it guesses based on your vocabulary and quizzes).
  • You can learn multiple languages at a time.
  • It tracks your progress with points earned and words learned.
  • It encourages short intervals of learning by letting you choose how many words you want to review at a time.
  • Lingua.ly began as a browser extension in Google Chrome, so if you’d like an additional dimension to your learning, add it to save vocabulary from websites and turn them into automatic flashcards.

Downsides:

  • The app doesn’t teach you the grammar behind the sentences – it just immerses you in the language experience.
  • Can have trouble with idiomatic phrases, and may translate very literally.
  • Sometimes, there are no articles available for the language and topic you want at the time (example – Arabic + science articles), but I just try a different combination and find other interesting things to read.
  • Only 10 languages are supported on the iOS app right now, but more will be supported soon. More languages are already supported on the web and Android versions. FrenchTravel

Bottom Line:

Lingua.ly provides a fun, enriching language-learning experience by guiding you through current world happenings in the language of your choice. It is an excellent tool to add to your language acquisition arsenal. As always, if you try it out, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Lingua.ly, Which Turns The Internet Into A Language Learning Tool, Launches Its First App

EdTech Startup Lingua.ly Raises $1M for its Immersive Language Platform

Finally, a Language Learning App That Works

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

App of the Week – HabitRPG

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Have you evelogor wished real life was more like a video game, where you could get rewards for completing everyday tasks? Would earning experience points or leveling up your character for doing your research or finishing a paper motivate you to get started earlier or work a little harder? If so, HabitRPG might be just be your alternative to a more traditional to-do list.

HabitRPG is based on a role-playing game, where one creates a character and undertakes a quest, faces obstacles, gains experience, and levels-up along the way. You sign up for an account either through the website or app (you can use email or a Facebook login); Habit RPG then allows you to design your character and immediately start adding and completing tasks. While getting set-up is fairly straightforward, the game aspect is in-depth enough to truly be considered an RPG, so you may want to check out the site FAQ and the rest of the HabitRPG wiki for all of your quest and character possibilities (as well as how to level up and avoid death!).

On the surface, though, it’s a fairly straightforward concept. There are 4 categories of action: Habits, Dailies, To-Dos, and Rewards. You add good habits that you want to maintain, but you can also include bad habits that you want to break. Checking off Dailies and To-dos offer instant gratification in the form of gold, and the more gold you have, the better rewards you can “buy.”

Most Helpful Features:

  • Unlike some other RPG apps and websites, this one is totally free.
  • The interface is reminiscent of Minecraft and Legend of Zelda, which gives it more of a game feel than simply a habit/task app.
  • In addition to being rewarded for your good habits, you are penalized for your lack of action (or continuing bad habits), from gradually losing health to the death of your character – so you can’t afford to ignore your tasks!
  • Allows you to rank your habits as Easy, Medium, or Difficult, and you can make daily tasks recurring.
  • Keeps a chart of your progress for each habit.
  • Rewards can be anything you want — there are several in-game tools you can earn, or you can give yourself an hour of Netflix time.
  • On the website, you can join a guild (some of them have thousands of other players), join challenges and compete against other players to win gems, and create a party of friends to go on a quest with.
  • If you want to get really into the game and also keep yourself on track, you can download a Google Chrome browser extension for the website version that will actually hurt your character if you waste time on specific websites (such as Facebook or Reddit – you can choose the worst offenders).

HabitWeb

Downsides:

Unfortunately, the app itself does not contain the full game capacity of the web version of HabitRPG, but when you’re logged into your account, the app and the site work together. You are able to edit your character, control all of the basic habits and tasks, maintain inventory, and chat socially with others in the app. If you are looking for an app-only experience and don’t want to deal with the website, the app works fine as a stand-alone resource, and is still fun and addictive.

Bottom Line:

HabitRPG helps you establish good habits and set goals while literally leveling up in life. If you enjoy gaming and need some extra motivation, give it a try. As always, if you check it out, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

HabitRPG Makes Improving Yourself Actually Addictive

Life Is A Game: Level Up Life and HabitRPG

HabitRPG Turns Better Behavior into a Game of Survival

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

App of the Week – 30/30

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

30-30logopngTask management is a crucial part of being a student, and good time management will benefit you throughout life. These skills do not always come naturally, though – so there’s an app for that.

In fact, there are many task management apps out there, and many utilize the Pomodoro Technique of tackling work in blocks while taking short breaks in between. 30/30 is an established Pomodoro-esque timer app that allows you to create a daily timed task list. The name implies you’ll work in a 30 minute block and take a 30 minute break, but the app offers much more flexibility. You simply add new tasks (using gesture controls like dragging your fingers apart vertically), choose a time frame for them, and put them in order. The app will let you know when time is up on one task, and automatically starts the next in line. You can add or subtract time as necessary, easily move tasks around, or pause a task when you’re interrupted.

SOSHpaper

30/30 seems to work best when you need to accomplish a task (or several) and use it to keep you on track and focused. For example, while working on an assignment, you can schedule 30 minutes of writing, a 10 minute break, 30 more minutes of writing, 20 minutes of Netflix, a 6 minute coffee run, 30 more minutes of writing, and so on.

This app can also help you figure out how you work – do you need 20 minutes of writing with a 20 minutes break? Is a task taking longer than you anticipated, forcing you to schedule more blocks? Is it helpful to work on another assignment for 30 minutes and come back to your paper with fresh eyes? 30/30 can teach you how to use your time more efficiently.

SampleTaskList

Most helpful features:

  • Attractive, easy-to-use interface.
  • Instructions for using the app are built into the format as a sample task list, so you can try and test out all of the features before starting your own list.
  • Uses gesture controls (swiping right to delete, tapping with two fingers, etc.) that are easy to learn.
  • You can schedule tasks from a few seconds up to 9 hours each (though that would slightly defeat the purpose of the app!).
  • You can turn on reminder notifications for when you leave the app, but want to stay on track.
  • It doesn’t force you to assign a task to a time of day, so you can start and stop tasks as your time allows, or rearrange the order of tasks with a swipe of the finger.

Downsides:

It may take you a few minutes to figure out the gesture controls, but after that the app is easy to navigate. Overall, I found the app incredibly helpful.

Bottom Line:

30/30 is an easy-to-use task management resource that can help you work smarter and avoid the procrastination trap. As always, if you try it out, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Schedule your day with free task manager 30/30

30/30 is a Productivity App for the Procrastinator in All of Us

30/30: A Timer with a Sleek Design

Review: 30/30 Simple Task Manager for iPad

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

Dwight David Eisenhower

President Eisenhower and LTG Garrison Davidson (USMA 1927). who was USMA Superintendent 1956-1960, meeting at West Point.

President Eisenhower and LTG Garrison Davidson (USMA 1927, USMA Superintendent 1956-1960), meeting at West Point in 1960. (image courtesy of USMA Library Special Collections and Archives)

Dwight David Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890. He was nominated for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy by Senator J.L. Bristow of Kansas, and was admitted on June 14, 1911.

While he was a cadet, Eisenhower became active in sports participating in football, baseball and track. His football career ended when he succumbed to a knee injury during the November 16, 1912 Tuft’s game.   At graduation he was ranked 61st of 164 members in the Class of 1915.

Eisenhower served during World War I in the Tank Corps and was commander of Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (the Tank Corps Camp) from March 1 to November 17, 1918.   In 1935 he went to the Philippines as Assistant to Military Advisor General Douglas MacArthur.

Eisenhower’s World War II service included service as head of the European Theater of Operations and as commander of the forces invading North Africa in November 1942. In December 1943 General Eisenhower, having been appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, moved to England to assemble and coordinate a gigantic invasion force for the cross-channel assault on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).

At war’s end, Eisenhower was ordered to Washington to become Army Chief of Staff; he served in this position until his retirement in February 1948. At that time he accepted the presidency of Columbia University and began a new career. In 1950 he was recalled to active duty to become the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe under the newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In 1952 General Eisenhower entered politics. He resigned his commission to campaign for the presidency, and in November was elected the thirty-fourth President of the United States. He served two terms.

In 1961 General Eisenhower was reappointed a General of the Army, and in the same year received the Thayer Award from USMA’s Association of Graduates. Eisenhower died March 28, 1969 at the age of 78, and was buried in Abilene, Kansas.

Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin-Ware, Archives Curator

App of the Week – F1000 Faculty of 1000

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

F1000 (2)Ever hear of F1000? No, not the open-wheel class of Formula 1 car racing Formula 1000, but Faculty 1000, the literature discovery service highlighting the best research articles in biology and medicine.

Faculty of 1000, or F1000, can help you F1000 logo animalthrough the daunting process of digesting scientific literature. If you’re feeling stuck on how to evaluate literature, why not let the Faculty make some recommendations for you on the best articles? The articles in F1000 are read and rated by the top senior scientists and their associates, leading experts in all areas of biology and medicine. Articles are rated on a scale from 1 – 5 (5 being the highest rating), with short explanations for their selections. It covers 40 disciplines from 3,500+ journals.

screenshot1

Think of F1000 like an Amazon review for journal articles. You can “try it” (read the review) before you read the entire article. Reviews provide classification tags, such as “new finding,” “good for teaching,” “controversial” or “technical advance,” etc. Read the review and then make your own critical analysis. You can also expand to the abstract for more detailed information and get related articles.

F1000 iPad article screenshot (2)

Articles are recommended based on their individual merit, rather than by association with a particular journal’s image or impact factor.

Most helpful features:

  • Discover the best research articles in your field of interest
  • Easily find related articles
  • Browse Faculty Member profiles by area of interest or by name
  • Read additional articles recommendations from faculty profile page

F1000 iPad Faculty screenshot
Downsides:

  • First-time users are required to register before using
  • App does not offer a link to full-text article. Functionality is better at the website, where linking to the USMA Library collection is possible.
  • Still developing as an iPad app

Bottom line:

Faculty recommendations to the most important articles on a subject might be a good starting point at your understanding of a topic. It saves you time digging for a good article, since the articles are recommended by highly regarded faculty in their field. After reading their reviews, you can make your own critical analysis for your paper. Use the app to help you zero in on a topic, then copy and paste the DOI (the permanent article ID number) into the USMA Library Scout search box to get the full-text article. In this reviewer’s opinion the app has a way to go, but it is worth checking out. And those interested in further research may use the parent tool, Faculty of 1000, in the Library’s database list.

As always, if you give F1000 a try, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading: Reviews on Faculty of 1000 (not on the iPad app)

Stoneham, I. CardioPulse Articles A twenty-first-century approach to post-publication peer review. European Heart Journal (2013) 34(8):549-556

Vardell E, Swogger S. F1000Prime: A Faculty of 1000 Tool. Medical Reference Services Quarterly [serial online]. January 2014; 33(1):75-84

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Manja Yirka, Continuing Resources Librarian