The Wisconsin State Journal last week ran an interesting "Know Your Madisonian" profile on local historian Erika Janik. It concerned her book A Short History of Wisconsin, published in July by the History Press (Wisconsin Historical Society).
This is a fine and worthy book, but practically ancient history compared with Janik's brand-new offering, Madison: History of a Model City, also from the History Press. (Janik says the interview was done several weeks ago, before her new book was out.)
Janik provides a brief but invigorating overview of our fair city, from the days of native mound builders to the construction of Monona Terrace and the Overture Center. In one passage, she recounts the local temperance movement's comically ineffective efforts: "[It] even had trouble getting officials to enforce the law requiring saloons to be closed on Sundays."
The book's final and most forward-looking line challenges the city to "continue to balance its zeal for change and innovation with a healthy respect for its history and tradition, remembering that what we all hold dear will provide a way forward for all Madison residents."