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Combining elements of three genres — U.S. history, family history and memoir — former Brookings Mayor Pat Sherman explores the lives of everyday Americans and the events that shaped their lives. Sherman's new book, In American Tapestry: Portrait of a “Middling” Family, 1746-1934, was recently released. From fierce encounters during the French and Indian War through the advances in medicine during the progressive era, Sherman’s American Tapestry tells true stories about how her “middling” family dealt with the challenges that faced the growing nation.

American Tapestry began as a simple family history project about her great grandfather; but it didn’t take long for Sherman to discover that members of her family had been involved in nearly every major event in U.S. history. They were not major historical figures, but for 200 years they had served as local community leaders. Her ancestors were farmers, wheelwrights, teachers, engineers, managers and physicians. They marched in wars. They built railroads and canals. They were public servants. They healed the sick. Still, for all the good things her forebears accomplished, they had their shortcomings, and Sherman examines their failings with an objective eye.

At the same time, and this is where Sherman is at her best. She confronts the biased history lessons of her youth. Time and again she delves into the unsavory aspects of American history that were glossed over or ignored altogether: notably, she revisits the history of the devolving relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans, with a focus on the Haudenosaunee people; she faces the fact head on that her great grandfather supervised young boys working in deplorable conditions in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal mines; and she shows how xenophobia, religious bigotry and racism have persisted in American society for a long time.

In the end, Sherman hopes that her book will inspire readers of all backgrounds to re-visit our American story with an open mind. Then, having arrived at a more inclusive understanding of our shared history through their own efforts, people may become more accepting of both our differences and our similarities.

What people are saying about American Tapestry:

“Her sweeping yet intimate true story, spanning two centuries of ordinary life, is nothing less than extraordinary.”—Matthew Dennis, professor of history emeritus, University of Oregon

“Sherman is a competent writer and is passionate about the downtrodden…She is a formidable and patient researcher.”–Kirkus Reviews

“…her writing remains vividly pictorial and even poetic throughout.”–Blue Ink Review

“Frank, honest and deftly written, American Tapestry offers a new perspective on the American past.”—Kevin Kenny, Glucksman professor of Irish history, New York University

American Tapestry: Portrait of a “Middling” Family, 1746-1934 is available at online retailers, indiebound.org and through Ingram Content Group.

In the past, Sherman worked as an ICU-CCU nurse, a tax accountant and a business owner. She served as mayor of Brookings from 2005-2008. Sherman is a graduate of Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Buffalo, NY; University of Portland and Oregon State University. She lives in Roseburg.


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