The History of eBooks from 1930′s “Readies” to Today’s GPO eBook Services

March 10, 2014

To some it might seem strange that the Government Printing Office, the printer of Federal publications for over 150 years, is blogging about eBooks for “Read an eBook” Week and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web . However, GPO has been working with digital publications for years and is fully immersed in eBooks.

History of the Ebook and E-Reader Devices

While many know that the paperback book came to us in the 1930s, few know that the concept for electronic books arose at the same time. According to Wikipedia, the idea of the e-reader came to writer and impresario Bob Brown after watching his first “talkie” (movies with sound). In 1930, he wrote an entire book on this invention and titled it “The Readies” [/reed-eeze/] playing off the name of the “talkie.” (Read about Brown in this New York Times article.)

simultaneous_reading_machine

Image: Fantasy exhibit of an electronic simultaneous reading machine. Source: The Architecture of Possibility

Wrote Brown: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age… The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies.” He explained why it was needed, saying: “To continue reading at today’s speed, I must have a machine.” He described his ideal future e-reader as: “A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novels in 10 minutes if I want to, and I want to.” Furthermore, this machine would “allow readers to adjust the type size and avoid paper cuts.

Free-eBooks-from-Project-GutenbergIt would take over 40 years for Brown’s prescient vision to become reality. Starting back in 1971, Michael S. Hart launched Project Gutenberg and digitized the U.S. Declaration of Independence, becoming the first eBook in the world. (To put the date into context, 1971 was the year that the first email message was ever sent– between two mainframe computers!) In 1985, the Voyager Company, a pioneer in CD-ROMs, was founded and published “expanded books” on CD-ROM including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and in 1993, Digital Book, Inc. offered the first 50 digital books on floppy disk.

Fast forward to 1998, and four important events happened: 1) the first dedicated eBook readers were launched: Rocket Ebook and Softbook; 2) the first ISBN issued to an eBook was obtained; 3) US Libraries began providing free eBooks to the public through their web sites and associated services; and 4) Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In 2000, the same year Blu-Ray discs were launched, Stephen King offered his novella Riding the Bullet as a digital-only computer-readable file, and two years later, Random House and HarperCollins started to sell digital versions of their publications. In 2004 Sony released its Sony Librie e-reader and then its Sony Reader in 2006.

2007 changed the world of reading forever with Amazon’s launch of the Kindle eBook reader in the U.S. and the launch of the iPhone by Apple. In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, and Sony linked with libraries via the Overdrive digital network to enable library patrons to borrow eBooks from their local library.

ereaders-ebook-devices

Image: Wide variety of eReaders and eBook reading devices. Courtesy: eBookAnoid

2010 was a banner year for eBooks as: 1) Apple released the iPad along with iBooks and its iBookstore on iTunes, selling half a million eBooks in less than a month; 2) Google’s eBookstore launched; and 3) Amazon reported that for the first time, its eBook sales outnumbered its hardcover book sales.

By January 2011, eBook sales at Amazon had outpaced its paperback sales, and by the end of the first quarter of 2012, eBook sales in the United States surpassed all hardcover book sales for the first time, topping over $3 Billion in revenue nationwide. And as of the end of 2013, the Association of American Publishers announced that eBooks now accounted for about 20% of all U.S. book sales.

Types and Formats of Digital Publications

Today, one sees many kinds of digital publications. “Electronic” or digital books can come as printable PDFs, enhanced PDFs with hyperlinks and embedded files, or “true eBook” formats: EPUB or MOBI files. EPUB is the most common and non-proprietary format, used by most Government agencies, commercial publishers, and libraries, and can be used on a variety of devices and software from different vendors. MOBI or AZW is used by Amazon for its Kindle readers and software.

EPUB and MOBI are “true eBook” formats because they offer resizable and reflowable text, automatically adjusting to the font and screen size and orientation (portrait or landscape) set on the e-reading device or software being used. (For more information, read our blog post “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free.”)

Readers either download digital publications onto their dedicated eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or they download it to their desktop or laptop computer, smart phone or tablet computer to read. If it is not a dedicated eReader device, the user must first have software on his device to allow him to read the format of eBooks he has downloaded.  To learn more about eBook formats and find FREE software to read EPUB eBooks on your computer or mobile device, read our detailed eBook Readers & Formats page on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Image: Aptara’s infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Magazines are also available digitally, but their typically image-heavy content makes them more suited for reading on color tablets and desktop computers than smartphones or black-and-white eReaders with smaller screen sizes or no color. Zinio.com, touted as “The World’s Largest Newsstand”, is one of the sites where readers can search for and subscribe to digital magazines or buy individual issues.

GPO Digital Publication Services: “Helping Federal Agencies keep America informed”

In addition to helping Federal agencies design, print, promote and distribute physical publications, GPO has, for a number of years now, been helping our Federal agency partners design, convert, disseminate, and promote digital publications as well. From eBooks to audiobooks, PDFs to e-periodicals, MP3s to mobile sites, GPO is working with Federal agencies to not only assist them in producing the best digital publications in the right formats, but to also augment their own outreach efforts by helping spread the word to gain the largest audience possible for their publications.

Today we offer five areas of digital (and print) publication services to U.S. Federal Government agencies in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches:

  1. Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO's publication consulting services.

    Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO’s publication consulting services.

    Publication Consultation services: Do you need advice on what formats are best for your content? Need to know how to best structure and build your digital publication to ensure its broadest use and dissemination? We offer free consulting services to Federal agencies to help you get these projects on the right track.

  2. Design services: Does your agency need assistance in developing and producing digital or print publications, from photography, videography, copy, layouts and more? Our fee-based Creative Services can be hired to do this for you, with only an inter-agency memo required to get started.

    GPO-Creative-Digital-Media-Services

    GPO’s Creative & Digital Media Services helps Federal Agencies design the perfect publication in any format, print or digital.

  3. eBook Conversion services: Are you a Federal agency that already has a print book or magazine you want to turn into a digital publication? Or do have one digital format like a plain PDF that you need to convert to another format so more customers can use it? We offer fee-based conversion services to turn that publication into digital formats ready for commercial distribution.

    GPO offers ebook conversion services to Federal agencies

    Image: GPO can help Federal Agencies convert their existing publications into alternative formats. See our eBooks & Digital Services page for more information.

  4. Dissemination services: After all this work creating the perfect digital books and magazines, you need to make sure it reaches the widest intended audience possible. GPO’s Sales Program provides a network of the top print and eBook distribution services and sites in the world, including Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, MyiLibrary, Overdrive, and Zinio (for e-magazines and journals), to name a few.Whether an agency has print books or posters, maps or  MP3s, eBooks or audio books, GPO can help agencies disseminate their publications through the top channels worldwide. Learn more in the eBook Channels for Federal Publications section below or visit our eBooks & Digital Services page. (Note that libraries can find links to published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.)

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

  5. Promotional services: Once your digital publication shows up on all these channels, how do you drive customers to find it?  For items in GPO’s Sales Program, we market our Federal agency partners’ digital publications through a variety of methods that could include: posts on this widely-read Government Book Talk blog; posts on other social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and more; targeted outreach and press releases; flyers, catalogs and other direct mail; live events and webinars; search marketing; alerts to Federal Depository Libraries about the title; and our free New Titles by Topic email subscription service, to name just a few of our many promotional tools.

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners' publications through integrated marketing and outreach.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners’ publications through integrated marketing and outreach to the public, book dealers, industry and consumer organizations and more.

GPO Sales Program Manages eBook Channels for Federal Government

Thus, GPO has established the most robust dissemination program available for Federal agencies to “get their eBooks out where users are looking for them,” by signing partnerships with the top eBook and eMagazine distribution services in the world and expanding our own online bookstore to offer eBooks.

In order to take advantage of the sophisticated technology and distribution partnerships GPO has put in place for the Federal Government, Federal agencies can choose one of two models for GPO to disseminate their digital publications:

a)     PAID CONTENT: Under this model, instead of having the Federal agency pay GPO for dissemination and promotion, the costs for GPO’s dissemination and promotional services (including elaborate metadata and search optimization) are recovered by selling the eBook to the public at a reasonable price.

b)     FREE CONTENT: However, if the Federal agency determines that the digital publication needs to be free to the public through all the commercial channels, the agency may pay GPO a modest fee for dissemination and promotional services, and the eBook will be offered for free to the public.

Image: Extract from GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has print and digital publications available.

Image: Extract from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has both physical products (print books, CD-ROMs and DVDs, posters, flashcards, etc.) and DRM-free digital publications (eBooks, audio books, PDFs, etc.) available.

eBook Channels for Federal Publications

All ebooks available on GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free

All ebooks available on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free, with no restrictive Digital Rights Management.

Because we have optimized the navigation and search on our site specifically to make it easy to find Federal eBooks by Agency, Topic and/or Format, many titles are seeing more downloads here than out on commercial sites like Google or iTunes or even on agencies’ own websites.

Also contributing to the surging popularity with the public of obtaining eBooks from the U.S. Government Bookstore is the fact that unlike eBooks purchased from some of the proprietary eBook distributors, digital publications on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore are DRM-free (no Digital Rights Management), meaning they are not restricted to a single device or manufacturer and can be downloaded multiple times.

  • Commercial eBook Channels: Apple iTunes iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Book Store, Powell’s, eBookPie, Diesel eBookStore, (United States), and more.
  • U.S. Public Libraries: Overdrive’s Library Digital Distribution provides eBooks to public library patrons nationwide.
  • Academic eBook Channels: EBSCO, MYiLibrary, AcademicPub and others.
  • Digital Magazine Channels: Zinio.com worldwide distribution of digital magazines and journals.

Featured eBooks Available Now on the U.S. Government Bookstore

Shop GPO's extensive selection of all DRM-free Federal ebooks.

FREE EBOOKS: Some of the best FREE ebooks available now from the U.S. Government Bookstore include:

OTHER POPULAR TITLES:  Here are some of the newer and more popular DRM-free Federal eBooks available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

  • Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business (ePub eBook) The book provides detailed information on best prospects, insights on the economic and political situation, tips on business culture, free and low-cost assistance for entering each country market where the U.S. government has negotiated preferential access for U.S. companies.
  • The U.S. Army and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (ePub eBook) is an engaging account of the U.S. Army’s role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, officially designated the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery.”
  • Sources of Weapon Systems Innovation in the Department of Defense: The Role of In-House Research and Development, 1945-2000 (ePub eBook) explores the historical evolution of this process during the Cold War to the end of the twentieth century, focusing specifically on the content, scope, organizational structure, and management of in-house research and development (R&D) in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. It is not merely a comprehensive history of U.S. military R&D, but is rather a broad historical overview of changing institutional patterns of technological innovation within the Defense Department’s major weapons laboratories.
  • Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 (ePub eBook) is the official report of Presidential Commission assigned to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, analyze its causes and effects, and recommend the actions necessary to minimize such risks in the future. The Commission’s report offers the American public and policymakers alike the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf and why, and proposes actions—changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology—required as industry moves forward to meet the nation’s energy needs.
  • Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (ePub eBook) is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress through 2007. Written for a general audience, this eBook contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan.
  • HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (ePub eBook) Aviation and military history buffs will enjoy reading about Colonel Henry Harley Arnold or “HAP” Arnold, one of the first two active U.S. Army pilots. Also available in Print, this eBook is available currently through third party eBooksellers.

How can I get Federal Government eBooks and digital magazines?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Shop Commercial eBook Channels:  Search these sites for the ISBN or exact title of the Federal eBook. Also, GPO’s Online Bookstore lists third party eBooksellers where the title can be found for eBooks in our eBook Sales program.
  • Visit the Federal Agency’s website: Often, PDFs of the publication are posted on Federal Agencies’ websites.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), or search for published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to check out through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Get to the Olympics with Help from these Free U.S. Government Resources

February 21, 2014

Guest blogger and GPO Supervisory Librarian Valerie Furino writes about U.S. Government publications that can help you achieve your Olympic ambitions.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are wrapping up, and they have been entertaining and full of surprises.  Many people watch the Olympics and dream of the magical moment of being awarded a medal (preferably gold).   However, that dreamy medal was earned through years of training and preparation.  If you want to give living the life of an Olympian a try, you’ll need to work hard.  You need to eat like an athlete – you need to train like an athlete – and you’ll actually need to GET to the Olympics – grab that suitcase!  Think you’ve got what it takes?  Let’s find out.

us-olympic-training-center-signImage: Tourists enjoying the Olympic Rings sign at the Headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee administration and the Olympic Training Center programs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Get into Competition Shape

First, let’s examine eating habits.  This should be easy – athletes are known for devouring lots of calories.  This handy chart illustrates typical calories burned, depending on a person’s weight – note that the Olympic sports ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing are all included.  (If all the activities on this chart were Olympic sports, I’d be a gold medalist shoo-in for “Operate Snow Blower” after this winter!)  However, you need to eat the right kind of calories.  You’ll need fuel to power you through those salchows and Axel jumps. Nutrition.gov provides a great starting place on various nutrition topics, including meal planning, label reading, and dietary supplements.

ChooseMyPlate_gov_Winter-Health-ChallengeImage: Winter Health Challenge from ChooseMyPlate.gov (February 2014).

Que hay en su plato- Spanish version of What's on My Plate from ChooseMyPlateFrom there, you can navigate to ChooseMyPlate.gov (or buy the What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate -English Language Version or the Spanish language version, Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato) which contains helpful advice on what to eat.  No matter your circumstance – college student, vegetarian, pregnant – you’ll find great tips on nutrition and some helpful recipes.

OK, nutritional standards have been established.  Now let’s move on to physical training.  Depending on your sport preference, you’ll need to exercise specific muscles – for example, cross-country skiing requires a well-developed abdomen, arms, and lower back, while snowboarding needs a strong core and shoulders.  Health.gov is a good place to start, as it provides general information on both nutrition and activity.  It provides a helpful link to Let’s Move!, a well-known initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama that encourages physical activity.  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has a fantastic site loaded with activity and nutrition tips.  If you’d like all your information in one publication, try the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; if you’re more a visual person, check out some videos .  All these resources are useful tools to get you in shape – or at least keep you towing the line on your fitness New Year’s resolutions.

First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-White-House-lawn-Lets-move-kidsImage: First Lady Michelle Obama exercising with kids on the White House lawn for the Let’s Move! initiative. Source: White House

Getting to the Games

Apply-for-US-passport-State-DepartmentYou’ve trained and you’ve been keeping excellent eating habits – you’re now ready to get to the games, whether as an athlete or a spectator!  (Hey, it takes a lot of climbing to get to your seat in an Olympic stadium.)   Besides the United States, the Olympics have been held in some beautiful and exotic places – London, Beijing, Athens,  Vancouver, and Torino.  If traveling out of your home country, be sure to check if any vaccinations are required.  Also check for any travel alerts.  Do you have a current passport?  Need a visa to travel to the host country? These convenient U.S. State Department sites will guide you.

world_factbook_12-13After taking care of logistics, spend some time reading up on the host nation.  The World FactBook updated annually by the CIA (you can also buy the World Factbook print edition complete with wall maps) and the Library of Congress Country Studies series (many also available in print from our Foreign Country Studies collection) are two excellent resources to help guide you through your host country.  And this handy worldwide wireless guide from the Federal Communications Commission will help you figure out how to use your phone while traveling abroad!

How can I get these publications?

  • Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)
  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of the eBooks or print publications mentioned above—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions mentioned in this blog post by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions mentioned in this blog post by visiting GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the Author: Valerie Furino is a Supervisory Librarian for the Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.


To Russia with… Respect

February 20, 2014

With worldwide sports audiences focused on television and Internet stories from the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, we are all learning more about this fascinating country.  America has had a long and complex history of relations with Russia, from both the Soviet Union era and now as the Russian Federation. From allies to adversaries—and sometimes both at the same time— the U.S. and Russia have covered the gamut of different roles over the centuries.

In a month replete with themes of love for Valentine’s Day and stories about Russian history, the U.S. Government Bookstore adds to the dialogue with dozens of publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that show, if not always love, then the perpetual mutual respect between our two nations.

Russia-Soviet-Books-available from the GPO-US Government Bookstore

World War II

Book Cover Image for Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback)Russia’s role as both an adversary and an ally during the Second World War lays the foundation for its complicated but critical relationship with the rest of the world today. But its historic triumph over its former ally, Nazi Germany, is a feat still studied and admired today. In Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback), the planning and execution of the German offensive against Russia in 1941-1942 are reviewed.

Book Cover Image for Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (Paper)Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (in Paperback and ePub eBook) describes the German defeat by the Russians in World War II and the events that resulted in the Soviet Union becoming a dominant military power in Europe.

The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War

In response to West Germany’s inclusion in NATO and reflecting Soviet leadership’s desire to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact was signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, as a mutual defense treaty between eight Cold War communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw Pact members included the U.S.S.R. plus Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Republic, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (CIA Declassified Book and DVD) ISBN: 9780160920615Soviet military planning for conflict in Europe after World War II from the outset harnessed East European military capabilities to Soviet military purposes. This “operational subordination” of the member states’ military is thoroughly analyzed in The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (Book and DVD) whose book and accompanying DVD include a wealth of newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents covering the Warsaw Pact period.

ISBN 9780160920608 The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (CIA Declassified Book and DVD)Another book and DVD set from the same series, The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (Book and DVD), is a collection of hundreds of recently declassified documents designed to take stock of where we are twenty years after the collapse of East European Communism. It includes sensitive Soviet and Warsaw Pact military journals from 1961 to 1984, recently uncovered in newly opened archives across former Warsaw Pact nations, providing a view into Warsaw Pact military strategy.

At the conclusion of World War 2, the Soviet Union was a major player in the world and again an adversary. The period roughly from 1947 to 1991 was known as the Cold War, in which the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in Warsaw Pact) were lined up against the Western Bloc (the U.S. and NATO allies). Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union- ISBN 9780160679544It was referred to as a “cold” war because there were no major world wars or direct conflicts between the two sides, although there were significant regional wars in Korea and Vietnam. Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA’s Analysis of the Soviet Union focuses on the organizational evolution of the CIA’s analysis of the Soviet economic, political, military, and scientific and technological developments during the Cold War. Interestingly, it also assesses the extent to which Western analyses of the Soviet Union may have influenced the USSR’s policy making process.

In addition to watching the West, Soviet leadership had a constant struggle to keep its own member states in line, particularly as some began to chafe under the communist system.

For example, many remember the Czechoslovak crisis from January 1968, when Alexander Dubcek was elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Under Dubcek, the Czech communist leadership had embarked on a radical program of dramatic liberalization of the Czechoslovak political, economic, and social order that was not approved by Moscow. Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; TheIn Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; The 1968 Soviet-Led Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Book and DVD), the Central Intelligence Agency’s Information Management Services reviewed, redacted, and released hundreds of documents related to the 1968 Czechoslovak-Soviet crisis, creating this fascinating book. The accompanying DVD has over 500 documents and 2,000 pages of recently declassified material about the crisis.

Détente Era

During the period of 1967 to 1979, there was an easing of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Referred to as détente, the era was a time of increased trade and cooperation with the Soviet Union and the signing of the SALT treaties, but relations cooled again with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan until the fall of the Soviet Union and the founding of the Russian Federation.

Book Cover Image for Soviet-American Relations: The Detente Years, 1969-1972The best overview of this important period can be found in Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972. With a foreword by Henry A. Kissinger, this unprecedented joint documentary publication presents the formerly top-secret record of how the United States and Soviet Union moved from Cold War to détente during 1969 to 1972. Published side-by side are both the U.S. and Soviet accounts of meetings between Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, the so-called Kissinger-Dobrynin confidential back channel, related documents, and the full Soviet and U.S. record of the first Moscow Summit between President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet documents are being released in the volume for the first time anywhere.

The Foreign Relations of the United States series fondly known as FRUS has a number of terrific titles about the U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Foreign Relations of the United States series at http://bookstore.gpo.govOne volume in particular, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, documents U.S. national security policy in the context of the Vietnam War and the changing Cold War strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another volume in the series, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, V. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972-August 1974, includes numerous direct personal communications between President Nixon and Soviet Leader Brezhnev covering a host of issues, including clarifying the practical application of the SALT I and AMB agreements, arms control, the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, commercial relations and most-favored-nation status, the emigration of Soviet Jews, and the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act which denied most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted free emigration, such as the Soviet Union.

ISBN 9780160895593 Rockets and People: NASA History Series Volume IV: The Moon Race (from a Soviet rocket designer's perspective) One of the crowning achievements of Russia and the Soviet Union has been its space program. From the launching of Sputnik that triggered the space race to participation in the International Space Station, Russians are justifiably proud of their “stellar” accomplishments. This pride is borne out in the fascinating book Rockets and People: Volume IV: The Moon Race. In this book translated from its original Russian version to English, the famous Russian spacecraft designer Boris Chertok— who worked under the legendary Sergey Korolev— continues his fascinating memoirs about the history of the Soviet space program, this time covering 1968 to 1974, the peak years of the Soviet human lunar program.

The Russian Federation

Today, Russia or the Russian Federation continues to be a major power, politically, militarily and economically.  But since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has continued to have issues with insurgencies and disagreements among its population. Book Cover Image for Breaking the Mold: Tanks in the CitiesBreaking the Mold: Tanks in the Cities (in Paperback and as an eBook) provides an up-to-date analysis of the utility of tanks and heavy armored forces in urban combat from across the world, and includes an analysis of the Russian use of tanks in quelling the insurgency in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) in 1995.

No longer a communist nation, Russia today still has a number of social welfare programs that differ from the rest of Europe. The Social Security Programs Throughout the World series highlights the principal features of social security programs in more than 170 countries. Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012Now included in the most recent European edition, Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012, Russian social security programs are analyzed and compared to other nations in Europe.

9781584874492_Russian-Military-Today-and-TomorrowAnd finally, The Russian Military Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Memory of Mary FitzGerald includes essays by top U.S. and Russian analysts to assess current Russian military thinking on warfare, giving insight into the Russia of today.

They say one must study history to understand where we are today and where we are heading. This listing is just a smattering of the many thoughtful publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that can add to your understanding of where this major power has been, where it is today and perhaps, where it might go in the future.

How can I get these publications about Russia and the Soviet Union?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of these eBooks or print publications—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Getting to Know the Presidents from the Intelligence Community’s Perspective

February 10, 2014

Presidents Day originated as a holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. As a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, the holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. While the holiday commemorates  George Washington, it also honors Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is ten days before Washington’s on February 12th. Consequently, Presidents Day always falls between the two birthdays. Let’s also give a shout out to two other Presidents whose birthdays fall in February – Ronald Reagan’s birthday on February 6th and William Henry Harrison on February 9th.

In recent years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been declassifying documents and releasing historical collections giving the public access to fascinating and relatively unknown U.S. history. These collections have been made available through GPO’s bookstore and have been the topic of previous blog posts.

In honor of Presidents Day, Government Book Talk is taking a look at two recent books published by the CIA focusing on the relationship between Presidents and the intelligence community.

Crafting the U.S. Intelligence Community

Crafting an Intelligence Community-Papers of the First-4-DCIs ISBN 9780160920523The CIA’s predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group, was created after World War II in response to the success and usefulness of intelligence gathering during the war. The booklet and accompanying DVD Crafting an Intelligence Community: Papers of the First Four DCIs looks at the first Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI) and their relationships with President Truman and Congress during the initial years of the newly created intelligence agency during the transition from wartime to peacetime. History buffs and President Truman enthusiasts will particularly enjoy pouring through the 800 recently declassified documents from the DCIs from 1946-1953 that are found on the DVD.

The CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence and CIA Historical Collections Division describe this multimedia publication:

Admiral Sidney W. Souers, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and General William Bedell Smith accepted President Harry S. Truman’s challenge to craft an intelligence organization.  Each man marked his tenure with his unique brand of leadership that provided his successor with the foundation needed for the next step toward the Central Intelligence Agency of today.

 The Crafting of an Intelligence Community collection of 800+ Agency documents along with 600 supplemental items shows the day-by-day activities, decisions, staff meetings and contacts that confronted each DCI.  They ran the gamut of choosing a secretary to responding to a Presidential question to an evening social event with various ambassadors and dignitaries.

Briefing the Presidential Candidates and Presidents-Elect

CIA Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 ISBN 9781929667192Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 (Book and DVD) or in Audio Book version was recently featured in the Washington Post for being the federal government’s first downloadable audio book available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The book is an historical account of the information sharing process between the intelligence community and Presidential candidates and Presidents-elect during campaigns and administration transitions.  The early chapters when this practice was not yet well-established provide the greatest insight to the briefing process.

It starts with the transition periods from the Dwight D. Eisenhower to Harry Truman administration through the candidate and Presidential briefings of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, ending with President George W. Bush.

An interesting anecdote from the book occurs during the period leading up to the 1960 election when then-Vice President Richard Nixon was running against then-Senator John F. Kennedy. At the time, there were concerns regarding the intelligence briefings on Cuba and the U.S.’s policy towards the Castro government. The recent revolution in Cuba that led to a Soviet-supported communist government was a hot topic during the election and the Presidential debates. Since Nixon was running for President while serving as Vice President, he was privy to information on the covert actions that had been underway in Cuba during the Eisenhower administration. Vice President Nixon raised concerns over what information was shared with Kennedy by the DCI Allen Dulles and how it could affect Kennedy’s positions during the election and the success of the covert actions. This was the first time the CIA was part of a political campaign raising questions on which topics and to what extent Presidential candidates should be briefed.

Here is an excerpt from the book detailing this fascinating controversy:

Well before the Cuba liberation issue came to a head in October, the outgoing Eisenhower administration had realized that covert action planning on Cuba could be a political bombshell. Following one of Allen Dulles’s briefings of the National Security Council in early August, for example, the vice president pulled the DCI aside to ask him whether Kennedy and his running mate, Senator Lyndon Johnson, were being provided information on covert action projects, specifically those related to Cuba. Dulles gave a carefully crafted answer to the effect that Kennedy was being told a little but not too much. According to former Agency officials familiar with the exchange, Nixon reacted strongly to Dulles’s reply, saying, “Don’t tell [Kennedy] anything. That could be dangerous.”

In his own account of these events, published in 1962, Nixon charged that Kennedy, before the election of 1960, had knowledge of covert action planning “for the eventual purpose of supporting an invasion of Cuba itself.” This charge prompted a formal press release from the White House on 20 March 1962 denying that Kennedy had been told of any plans for “supporting an invasion of Cuba” before the election. The White House denial was backed up by Dulles, by then a former DCI, who explained that Nixon’s comments were apparently based on a misunderstanding of what was included in the briefings he had given Kennedy.

Senator-Kennedy-DCI-DullesImage from “Getting to Know the Presidents”: Senator Kennedy with former DCI Allen Dulles heading to a press briefing on the information the CIA provided Kennedy and Johnson. Source: White House

Celebrate Presidents Day and get to know the Presidents from the intelligence community’s perspective with these new CIA publications or any of the publications found in the GPO Bookstore’s Presidential History collection, which also includes the popular Public Papers of the Presidents collection.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional images and content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


The Emancipation Proclamation and its Role in GPO and African American History

February 5, 2014

February is National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month in the United States. One significant event in African American history happened 151 years ago.  On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing “that all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While this Executive Order only freed slaves living in Confederate states during the Civil War, it nevertheless ultimately paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in America and became an important aspect of President Lincoln’s legacy.

lincoln-signs-emancipation-proclamation-on-New-Years-Day-jubilee-dayIn his proclamation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and “reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.

Image: Illustration of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in Washington. Source: AP 

As we honor African American heritage this month, I’m reminded of the Emancipation Proclamation and the “timeless principles” President Obama was speaking of.

A symbol of equality and justice

The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation during the Civil War was two-fold for African Americans. As mentioned earlier, not only did it lay the foundation for the eventual freedom of all slaves, it also allowed black men to enlist in the Union Army and Navy. This strategic Presidential “war measure” provided African Americans the opportunity to join in the fight for their freedom, in effect enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

As history teaches, the Civil War was initially about preserving the Union; however, the Emancipation Proclamation also made it about freeing the slaves– “an act of justice” that would grant African Americans, and generations to come, equal citizenship in the U.S.

For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation remains a widely recognized symbol of freedom in American History that will forever be revered in Black History.

Fancy-Emancipation-ProclamationImage: Engraving by W. Roberts with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. Source: Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.04067.

GPO’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation

But the Emancipation Proclamation also played a significant role in GPO’s own history. Did you know… the then newly established Government Printing Office printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation for President Lincoln as one of its first major tasks? The original printer’s proof version was displayed for six months at GPO’s 150th History Anniversary exhibit that opened in June of 2011. I (along with many other GPO employees and visitors) was given an extraordinary opportunity to personally view the original historic document, which contained the printer’s actual proofing marks with requested changes!

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERImage: Former Public Printer William Boarman views original GPO printer’s proof copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray at the GPO history exhibit. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format, issued as an Executive Order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries. The copy displayed at GPO contained proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Source: GPO

The GPO history exhibit is currently open to the public with free admission, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm at GPO’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 732 North Capitol Street NW. Unfortunately, the landmark document, which was on loan for six months from the Library of Congress, is no longer available for viewing, but many more historic exhibits are on view for free.

Visitor at GPO History Exhibit carrying Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation ISBN: 9780160887048Image: Visitor who has just purchased the GPO history book “Keeping America Informed” views the GPO 150th Anniversary History Exhibit. Source: GPO

To learn more about GPO’s role in the printing of this historic document and other important Federal publications, read GPO’s 150th anniversary history book, Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation.

However, you can view and/or read the entire Emancipation Proclamation online at the National Archives website or visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, to see the original signed document.

Teaching the Next Generation about the Emancipation Proclamation

To help parents and educators teach children about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its role in Black History, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) published the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

National Archives 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Children's Book: Forever Free ISBN: 9780160916342Image:  Buy the family friendly 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

This 150th anniversary commemorative publication about the Emancipation Proclamation is not a typical children’s coloring book. The wealth of information contained within this great little read makes it useful as a history book for the entire family, not just for kids. For example, I learned about the origins of “Watch Night”:

On December 31, 1862, many enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and prayed. Throughout the night, they waited for the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. This special night became known as “Watch Night,” and continues to be celebrated today in many African American churches on New Year’s Eve.

The publication opens with a brief history about President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It also provides portraits and short biographies describing historical events involving African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman, a former slave and Union spy who also helped recruit black troops, and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who helped Abraham Lincoln recruit black troops during the Civil War. It even includes a reference to this famous image:

reading-emancipation-proclamation-torchlightImage: By torchlight, a Union soldier reads the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ to a room of slaves and their children, 1860s. The image was published as part of the ‘Life of Lincoln: Additional View’ series by the C.W. Briggs Company. Photo credit: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Other short biographies of important figures in black history covered in this book include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.

National Park Service Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book ISBN: 9780160900181The National Park Service also has produced another children’s publication focusing on black history and mentioning the Emancipation Proclamation: Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book. Young children ranging from ages 5 to 10 and older are taught about the history of the Underground Railroad and the struggles African Americans endured in their quest for freedom. Activities include a wordsearch of terms related to the Civil War; a maze routing the journey to freedom; and a timeline highlighting significant events in Black History, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and much more. Upon completion of the activities, children are encouraged to send in their completed booklet for an official Jr. Ranger Badge. [Read about this and other Underground Railroad publications in our blog post: "The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History".]

How can you get these publications?

About the author: Guest blogger Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public.


“Now You’re Speaking My Language”: Teaching English as a Second Language in the U.S. and Abroad

January 31, 2014

Teaching-American-English-wordleThe English language, according to Wikipedia, is the third-most-common native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish and is the most widely learned second language. Not only is it widely used in technology and entertainment, it is also an official language of the European Union, many British Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many international organizations.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes that promoting the learning and teaching of English as a foreign or second language both within the United States and around the world is an essential step towards increasing cultural understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.  The Department of State created the Office of English Language Programs, under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to encourage English language education for non-native English speakers.

As a former Business English professor for Spanish Masters of Marketing graduate students in Spain and a volunteer tutor for young Hispanic ESL (English as a Second Language) students in the United States, I had a hard time finding resources for my students or connecting with other teachers with whom I could exchange best practices and ideas for lesson plans that took into account the cultural differences of non-native speakers,” says Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

English Teaching Forum, the quarterly journal for professionals teaching ESL or EFL English as a Foreign or Second Language, published by the U.S. State Department's Office of English Language ProgramsFortunately, the State Department’s Office of English Language Programs publishes the English Teaching Forum, a quarterly journal that serves as a resource for professionals teaching English as a foreign or second language all over the globe. This publication connects teachers of English as a second language across the many countries in which they are teaching by allowing them to submit articles and share their experiences working towards their common goal of helping others learn the English language worldwide. In fact, the majority of articles featured in the English Teaching Forum are authored by English language classroom teachers. Each new issue of the journal has a distribution of over 85,000 copies across more than 130 countries!

Teachers of English as a second language will find a number of useful articles in the pages of the English Teaching Forum. Topics covered in this quarterly publication include classroom language learning activities, teaching methods and tools, informational articles on potential teaching topics related to American culture, and understanding the needs of the diverse group of students that these teachers encounter.

In the most recent issue of the English Teaching Forum (Volume 51, Number 4, 2013), “Raising Cultural Awareness in the English Language Classroom” tackles the question of how to introduce American sociocultural elements into the language curriculum to enhance the students’ ability to grasp the cultural nuances of the language. It has been said that students cannot master a foreign language without understanding the cultural context in which the language is spoken, and in this article, author Jerrold Frank explores this theory and suggests methods of introducing cultural lessons to language students.

Another particularly interesting feature from English Teaching Forum can be found in Volume 50, Number 1, 2012, in the article “A Call to Service”  by William P. Ancker, which introduces an interview with Dr. James Alatis, a leader in the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) community. The interview with Dr. Alatis, originally conducted in 2004 but reprinted in this issue in honor of the English Teaching Forum’s 50th anniversary, follows this introduction.

The journal even includes classroom exercises and printables, such as this fun quiz displaying the confusion caused by English-language homophones–words that are spelled differently but are pronounced similarly (like there and their).

ETF_Lighter-Side_Homophones-QuizImage: Speak and Spell Quiz from English Teaching Forum 2012, Volume 50, Number 3. See answers at bottom of the post.

If you are a teacher or a student of English as a foreign or second language, or even if you just find language and learning to be topics of interest to you, US-State-Department-American-English-Mobile-Appthe English Teaching Forum is a worthwhile publication to explore!

For more resources for teachers of American English, visit the State Department’s American English website, including downloading their new American English Mobile App for both teachers and students.

How do I subscribe to English Teaching Forum: A Journal for the Teacher of English Outside the United States?

About the Authors: Stephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector. Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

Answers to The Lighter Side “Speak and Spell” homophones quiz from above:

Answers-to-Homophones-Quiz 


“Are you Ready?” for Extreme Cold and Other Natural and Man-made Disasters

January 23, 2014

Image below: Graph depicts how variations in the polar vortex affect weather in the mid-latitudes. Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Polar-vortex-fall-to-winter-chartAs the United States shivers under the Arctic Express, Polar Vortex, Polar Cyclone, Polar Low, Circumpolar Whirl or whatever name you call it (I just call it FREEZING!!!!) with snow, ice, and some of the most extreme cold conditions in decades, Americans will be happy to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has help available in the form of its extremely useful new disaster preparedness guide, Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745Intended as both a reference source as well as a step-by-step manual, this easy-to-follow guide has been designed to help Americans “learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards”.

According to the FEMA authors:

The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property. Also included is information on how to assemble a disaster supplies kit that contains the food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity for individuals and their families to survive following a disaster in the event they must rely on their own resources.

The guide advises on planning before a disaster, responding during a disaster, and recovering after a disaster and is organized into the following sections: Why Prepare, Part 1 Basic Preparedness, Part 2 Natural Hazards, Part 3 Technological Hazards, Part 4 Terrorism, and Part 5 Recovering from Disaster.

Each chapter has specific tips on preparation, what to do during the particular disaster, instructions for what to do afterwards, and where to go for more information, including links for free publications.

Disasters and emergencies cover the gamut in three areas:

a)      Natural Hazards, including: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold,  Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides and Debris Flow (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires and Wildfires;

b)      Technological Hazards, including:  Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, and Nuclear Power Plants

c)      Terrorism, including: General terrorist threats, Explosions, Biological Threats, Chemical Threats, Nuclear Blast, and Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD).

Are You Ready?… for Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-80-Winter-Storms-and-Extreme-ColdAs I was concerned about the extreme cold, I turned to Part 2, Natural Hazards, Section 2.5 Winter Storms and Extreme Cold.

In the preparation part, I found useful terminology such as the difference between sleet and freezing rain, protective measures and supplies to gather, tips on how to winterize my car (e.g., have you cleaned your car battery terminals and used gasoline additives to keep water out of your fuel lines?) and how to dress for the winter weather (did you know mittens are warmer than gloves?).

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-83-Winter-Dress-for-ColdDuring a winter storm, “Are you ready?” gives more advice, such as what to do if a blizzard traps you in the car and how to watch for signs of hypothermia.

[Signs of hypothermia]… include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Other Useful Information in “Are You Ready?”

In addition to information on specific types of emergencies, the guide includes a number of other very useful resources.

Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit:  A whole chapter is devoted to assembling a good general disaster supplies kit for multiple locations: home, work and vehicle.

Practice Makes Perfect: Advice on how to practice and maintain your emergency plan is under Section 1.6.

General Evacuation Guidelines:  Tells what to do to prepare your home if you have to evacuate, such as utility shut-off and safety, reviewing and securing of insurance and vital records, and so on.

Special Needs: Information on how to do disaster planning to accommodate someone with disabilities is included.

Pets: Caring for pets in emergencies is not forgotten, either.

FEMA Hazard Maps: It highlights how to get free hazard maps from FEMA in your area by accessing FEMA’s Hazard Mapping Portal.

Homeland-Security-Threat-Assessments-Color-MatrixWarning Systems and Signals: The guide explains different national alert systems such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR), as well as the Homeland Security Advisory System with its Threat Conditions thermometer.

Quizzes: The guide even includes some quizzes such as the Terrorism Knowledge Check on page 172 that asks such questions as:

What would you do, if you were at work and…

a. there was an explosion in the building?

b. you received a package in the mail that you considered suspicious?

c. you received a telephone call that was a bomb threat?

Mental Health Issues: Tips are included on how to recognize if children vs. adults may need crisis counseling or stress management assistance as well as how to ease disaster-related stress (such as attending memorial services). For children, guidelines are included by age range of common reactions to traumatic events, along with tips on how adults can reassure children after a disaster.

For additional information about Federal mental and medical emergency resources, read our previous blog post: “Help is Just a Call, Click or Page Away: Federal Disaster Helplines & Emergency Medical Resources.”

Family Forms: The guide is customizable to you and your family with forms to fill out for your own emergency plans. Included is a form for you to use to fill out information as you collect it from your local authorities on possible hazards and emergencies in your community, the Risk Level and how to reduce your risk, along with a “Community and Other Plans” form to use to record answers from your local officials about your community’s disaster and emergency plans.  Also included is a form to draw and to record your family’s specific evacuation route and another to record your Family Communications Plan.

Checklists and Appendices: The guide also includes some handy appendices: Appendix A: Water Conservation Tips, Appendix B: Disaster Supplies Checklist, and the all-important Appendix C: Family Communications Plan.

Preparedness Websites: One is a list of Disaster Public Education Websites from both the Federal Government such as FEMA’s own Ready.gov site (www.ready.gov), as well as non-Governmental sites, like the Institute for Business and Home Safety, www.ibhs.org.

Disaster Recovery Assistance: Finally, advice and resources for getting disaster recovery assistance are covered in the Are You Ready? guide, too.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745How can I get a copy ofAre You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness”?

Whether you live near an active volcano; in Tornado Alley or a Hurricane Zone; in wildfire, mudslide or flood-prone areas; or just want to be prepared for any emergency—natural or man-made—this guide will help you save the day!

  • MULTIPLE COPIES: FEMA recommends having a completed guide for each location for your family members: home, work or school, and your vehicle(s). Fill out the customizable sections in each copy with your relevant family, workplace and community information.
  • Shop Online: You can buy this publication from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by:
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Digital: Find a PDF version on the FEMA site.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for it in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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