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{ Category Archives } History

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larsen; narrated by Scott Brick When the Lusitania steamed into the waters off Britain in 1915, everyone on board knew the Germans had threatened the ship. But the convergence of politics, military action, timing, and fate made the attack on the ship a startling and […]

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson Months and months ago, I started In the Garden of Beasts and while it was good, the slow ramp up to the intense story didn’t quite grip me.  I stopped about sixty pages in, just, as it turns […]

February 25, IN HISTORY

This year, for the “Wednesday photos” feature, I will be including photos that reference the date of the post in their description or when they were taken. Also (from Wikipedia): 1836 – Samuel Colt is granted a United States patent for the Colt revolver. 1901 – J. P. Morgan incorporates the United States Steel Corporation. […]

Where’d you go, D.B. Cooper? Skyjack

Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper written and narrated by Geoffrey Gray Gray starts the tale of famed plane hijacker D.B. Cooper with his own introduction to the tale — a visit from a private-eye friend who wanted to pitch a story.  What follows is a three-year odyssey into one of the modern rabbit holes, […]

A guy dropping a box of bees

Image from page 226 of “The Ninth New York heavy artillery. A history of its organization, services in the defenses of Washington, marches, camps, battles, and muster-out … and a complete roster of the regiment” (1899) This image was right next to the narrative about the company’s activities on November 5th, 1864, which included no […]

JFK on Halloween

Here’s JFK in his office on Halloween, 1963.  At first I just included this image because I enjoyed it.  But then it occurred to me to wonder what else happened around that time: That day JFK signed into law the Community Mental Health Act, meant to restructure the way we mentally ill patients. JFK met […]

Flash Boys – in case you thought maybe the market wasn’t rigged

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis; narrated by Dylan Baker Flash Boys is two books at once.  First, it’s a fascinating tale about a few different innovators working in the financial markets.  These men spotted an opportunity to create a better wall street, to fix a problem that the market would, hopefully, […]

Happy Labor Day!

Fun facts about Labor Day (from Wikipedia): We proposed it in the US after Canada already had it, but in a stroke of efficiency, we dropped the superfluous ‘u’ from Labour. Because Labor Day has become a major sale day, “some of those who are employed in the retail sector not only work on Labor […]

What really sunk the titanic? Zombies. (I review Deck Z)

Deck Z: The Titanic Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon As you can tell from the cover and the title, Pauls and Solomon ask “What would happen if there had been zombies on the Titanic?” Then they answer that question.  The novel is a straight-forward, well-written adventure tale without much depth, […]

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j/k lol

The Joke by Milan Kundera I don’t usually read high literature.  I gravitate toward genre fiction (duh) if left to my own devices, and it’s only through the patient prodding of my literary colleagues and my father in law (who reads tons) that I occasionally pick up a book that will challenge my soul or […]

The Lost Continent

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson The Lost Continent is one of Bryson’s earlier (or earliest?) travel books, written in the late 1980s by an American ex-pat who returned from Britain to tour around America for two months, driving on back roads and staying in small towns.  The book brims […]

Made in America

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by  Bill Bryson Bryson’s book is a compendium of facts and ideas about the English language as it developed in the United States, as viewed through lenses ground out of topics from every corner of American culture.  In some ways, it […]

Great, another thing to worry about in the cold dark of the middle of the night.

Years ago I saw the Discovery channel (or was it SyFy?) movie Super Volcano and added a fear of a massive North American purge in the wake of a Yellowstone eruption to my worry-list.  I read Simon Winchester’s Crack at the Edge of the World  about the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed San Francisco […]

Them: Adventures with Extremists

Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson It’s a little disconcerting how close Ronson gets to very scary people in this book.  But his point, I think, is that even the very scary people are just people.  Them details Ronson’s journey into the late 1990s and early 2000s subculture of conspiracy theorists, people who believe […]

Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre, narrated by John Lee Ben Macintyre has a strong sense for storytelling, crafting a tale full of vital details that bring it to life while providing the reader a strong sense of the history […]