Sept/Oct 2019 ~ Which non-fiction books are you harvesting?
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Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (4+ stars)
Richardson does a nice job of providing an overview of the background to and creation of the original Counter Culture/Hippie movement as it developed in San Francisco. It is fair to say that that movement and the Dead were organically joined, and that probably neither would have developed as they did without the other. As Richardson portrays it, the Dead's style of performance, in which they aimed to tear down the walls between musician and audience and to create music that would lend itself to ecstatic dancing in particular, placed them squarely at the center of the growing scene.
This is an allegorical book that is supposed to help teach you the different aspects of quantum mechanics by following Alice around as she encounters the different theories. This got very high marks but this is not for everyone. I had taken physics many decades ago but had lost that knowledge since it was never my major field of study. I think someone studying beginning quantum physics now would benefit from reading this cleverly written and illustrated book.
Fascinating true story of the animal rights lawyer-Steven Wise who with the help of others got the courts to acknowledge that “cognitively complex” animals have limited legal rights. While the film centers on chimpanzees, the law also envelopes whales, dolphins and elephants.
You have to be a person of a certain age to remember Dark Shadows, the supernatural soap opera that debuted in 1966 and ended in 1971. But there are still a lot of fans around that remember the show and this fun -(non-fiction) documentary on the show covers the origin of the show, who created it, the stars and the demise. Recommended!
A Green Beret combat medic in Vietnam, Peacock returned home from that havoc and spent years camped in wilderness where he could be awake and awakened amongst grizzlies. His book is a document of tremendous passion and commitment.
I'm reading Our Living Ancestors by John Bates who I think I met last year on a guided tour of a State Natural Area. The book is subtitled The History and Ecology of Old-growth Forests in Wisconsin and Where to Find Them.
OMG the destruction was so vast, but once people accepted reality (no, Northern Sconnie is NOT a good place for traditional farming) and started to understand the importance of forests, things have improved. What they still don't get is that planting acres and acres of one variety is not an ecosystem. But the guide to the best forests to go look at is the real treasure in this book. Luckily most of them are in neighboring counties.
Autumnal Tints by Henry David Thoreau
(HDT's classic essay)
I'm already nearly finished with Code Girls by Liza Mundy and agree with Lime Spouse down the line. This is a thoroughly researched narrative history of the young women recruited by the USN and USA during WW II from the Seven Sisters, initially, and various mid-western colleges, primarily institutions devoted to preparing teachers. From these young women were selected candidates to work in the field of cryptanalysis. Successful candidates were briefly trained in various analytical techniques, then immediately set to work cracking codes to aid the war effort primarily in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceanic theaters.
Nearly the entire American WW II cryptology work was performed by women; they cracked German Enigma codes after the Germans added a fourth wheel to it, and they cracked Japanese codes that controlled merchant shipping supplying the far-flung Japanese armies. These women codebreakers were the egg from which the NSA was hatched, yet they never received the benefits nor recognition from the government that was their due.
Mundy crafts a book for code nerds, general WW II buffs, and for readers interested in women's studies. She merges the stories and anecdotes of many individual women with the societal constraints, prejudices, and employment taboos these women overcame. She exposes the misogyny, rivalry, and enmity between the nation's two major military branches. And she manages to convey how deeply patriotic, diligent, and unacknowledged the codebreakers were during wartime and thereafter.
Van Loon starts with the Greeks and then moves through the Roman era and then through European history up through the French Revolution, describing the movements, institutions and individuals who have the most to do with, in turn, enhancing or curtailing the cause of tolerance in society. The book's second half is composed of short biographies of influential individuals, either via politics or philosophical writing, over the ebb and flow of the idea of tolerance in Western society. Erasmus, Spinoza and Montaigne get particularly interesting treatments, as do the figures of the French Revolution. Van Loon describes the repression in the Puritan settlements, but, disappointingly, misses the admirable Roger Williams. The final chapter, "The Last Hundred Years," is only a few pages long, and Van Loon concludes with a hopeful passages that beg for patience and perseverance in the struggle for overall societal tolerance. He writes with an uneasy eye backwards toward recent history (World War One and the Russian Revolution). But as he was writing in 1926, he could not be expected to be able to see what was coming. I don't know how historically accurate all of his descriptions and observations are. Nevertheless, I think he's well worth reading even given, or possibly because of, the book's vintage of close to 100 years old. Van Loon's sense of humor, as already noted, is enjoyable and quite dark. For example, while the book's dust jacket, as pictured above, is certainly benign, the cover of the book itself, a book, remember, about tolerance and liberation, depicts a guiilotine!
by Tom Roston
This is the history of the restaurants in the Windows on the World which resided in the Twin Towers/ the World Trade Center in NYC and was created/developed by the restaurateur, Joe Baum. Roston gives the readers a behind the scenes look at the restaurants in the WTC and the people who ran them. He also talks about the history of the city during that time period and the tragedy that still affects people today. Sad but a compelling read. For a better synopsis of this book – check out this website-
The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea (4 stars)
(well-known, and not so well-known, women making life on this planet better for all)
But truth to tell, I'm a bigger fan of WW I stories and those WW II stories written by Asian writers about their experiences in the Pacific theater.
Of all the war stories I've ever read my two favorites are A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot, a heartbreakingly beautiful combination love story and anti-war novel set in France during WW I. The other is Tan Twan Eng's lyrical yet brutal novel about a Malaysian man's look back at his boyhood during WW II and his youthful friendship with a Japanese diplomat who teaches him akaido. The Gift of Rain.
These shouldn't just go into your TBR pile; the should head your Bucket Reading List.
by Sarah Rose
This is the story of the lengths that England and the British East India Company went about to monopolize the tea industry and take it away from China. Robert Fortune, gardener, botanist and plant hunter was sent by England to secretly gather plants from China to send to India (where England had British Rule). Aiding him in the transplantation of the plants (besides some Chinese citizens) was the newly invented Wardian case, a predecessor of the terrarium. This was definitely a hard to put down book. So interesting!
This was an enjoyable and interesting biography of the wonderful Fred Rogers. The author takes us through his life discussing his family and his work on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He also discusses his strong religious faith and his unwavering sense of the belief that children should be valued and heard.