The Last Leaf: Voices of History's Last-Known Survivors

When we read about famous historical events, we may wonder about the firsthand experiences of the people directly involved. What insights could be gained if we could talk to someone who remembered the Civil War, or the battle to win the vote for women, or Thomas Edison's struggles to create the first electric light bulb? Amazingly, many of these experiences are still preserved in living memory by the final survivors of important, world-changing events.

In this unique oral history book, author and historic document specialist Stuart Lutz records the stories told to him personally by people who witnessed many of history's most famous events. Among many others, Lutz interviewed:

-the final three Civil War widows (one Union and two Confederate)

-the final pitcher to surrender a home run to Babe Ruth

-the last suffragette

-the last living person to fly with Amelia Earhart

-the final American World War I soldier

-the last surviving employees of Thomas Edison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Harry Houdini.

The wide-ranging stories involve humor (the 1920 Olympic medalist who stole the original Olympic flag), tragedy (the last survivor of the 1915 Lusitania sinking), heroism (the final Medal of Honor recipient for actions on Pearl Harbor Day), and eyewitnesses to great events (one of the last scientists at the first nuclear chain reaction, and the final Iwo Jima flag raiser).

In more than three-dozen chapters, Lutz blends background information in a lively narrative with the words of the interviewees, so that readers not familiar with the historical episodes described can understand what occurred and the long-term significance of the events.

A book that truly makes the past come alive, The Last Leaf will fascinate not only history buffs but anyone who likes a good story.