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reviewed Jerusalem: City of longing. Friday
Jerusalem: City of longing
I went to the library with a newer book on the history of Jerusalem on my wish list, but when I got to the shelf and saw how many pages it was I realized I didn't want to tackle it.   Then …
1177 B.C.: The year civilization collapsed
Cline uses archeology, inscriptions, contemporary document caches, and ancient historical text (including the Bible and Homer's Greek history/legends/myths of the Trojan War) to explore who, what, …
The Story of the Jews: Finding the words 1000 BC - 1492 AD
Schama has been a popular and prolific narrative historian covering topics as diverse as the French Revolution, American history, and now this history of the Jewish people.  I've read all three …
Why science does not disprove God
Aczel sets and completes a simple challenge in this book well described by his title.  He doesn't try to prove that God exists, or that science and religion are different and non-intersecting  …
The Edge of the precipice: Why read literature in the digital age
This slim fast-reading collection of essays tackles the title question from many perspectives along two main tangents.      The place of ink on paper reading vs pixels on screen …
Life's imponderables: The answers to civilization's most perplexing questions
Other than the fact that I review every book I read, I might have skipped writing a review of this omnibus collection of "Imponderables.". But I do review everything, and I also realized this …
Death dance: True life and death adventures from Alaska to Africa
Nolan is a wildlife biologist, filmmaker, guide, and adventure junkie who has worked for years in Alaska and Africa.  Along the way he has written down stories he has heard from his friends and companions …
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
You know how in a Dickens novel pretty much every thing works out happily in the end?  Yeah, that doesn't happen here.  Hardy followed up his "comedy in chapters" (The Hand of …
reviewed Beatles vs. Stones. June 28
Beatles vs. Stones
The title might suck you in like it did me in this intertwined thumbnail parallel sketch of the careers of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  After all, I am just old enough to remember when that …
1913: In search of the world before the Great War
Cataclysmic events like the Great War cause us to see the history of the time immediately preceding only in the light of the events that followed.  This historical hindsight can blind us to the true …
The Hand of Ethelberta
Hardy tries his hand at a "comedy in chapters" in this outting.  It actually sold better in serial form than Far from the Madding Crowd, the great classic just preceding it, but in comparison …
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
MacCulloch's massive one volume history of the religion based on the man and the mission of Jesus Christ is imaginative, insightful, and mostly maintains interest beginning to end.  The interest …
The story of music: from Babylon to the Beatles: How music has shaped civilization
Goodall spans the entire history of music (including why musical notations like allegro are in Italian) in just over 300 small format pages.   The coverage of the roots of music as sound, as …
11/22/63 a book by Stephen King
I haven't read many of this hyper selling author's books and not for quite a while (I remember reading Christine when it was a new book decades ago) and just from the plot synopsis this seems …
Far from the Madding Crowd
Not with any other author, even the inimitable Dickens, have I ever seen the linear progression in maturity and strength of writing as in Thomas Hardy's from his debut through Madding Crowd.  …
reviewed A Pair of Blue Eyes. April 16
A Pair of Blue Eyes
The third book published in his slowly accelerating career brings Hardy to. the style and moral principles that will finally bring him fame and acclaim as a writer.  Desperate Remedies was a derivative …
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
If you search any book buying site you will find editions of Mark Twain s autobiography.   You will also learn that Mark Twain's will called for his autobiography to be sealed for 100 years …
reviewed The Skin map. March 31
The Skin map
Lawhead has made a career writing series of books updating and reinterpreting legends that may have some roots in the early mists of history, most notably Robin Hood and King Arthur.  I have read …
Civil War Pittsburgh: Forge of the Union
Pittsburgh may have been far from the battlefields of the Civil War but from its position guarding the Ohio River gateway to the South and West it supplied the men and steel that earned it the subtitle …
Heretics and heroes: How Renaissance artists and Reformation priests created our world
Cahill has been guiding us through what he calls the "Hinges of History", describing the major threads and the decisive turning points in cultures, languages, arts, nations , and religions that …
Ping Pong diplomacy: The Secret history behind the game that changed the world
If you have a chance to go to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, be sure to stop by the museum there, and take special notice of the display of the rail car mounted Minuteman nuclear missile.  …
Fizz: How soda shook up the world
This is a fast paced trace of carbonated soda pop beverages from their historical roots in mineral waters, ginger beers, and patent medicine concoctions.  While Coca-Cola features prominently because …
Candy: A century of panic and pleasure
Candy might be empty calories but Kawash has written a satisfying study of the intersection of the history, nutrition, sociology, marketing, and even morality of candy.  Yes, candy is bad for you, …
reviewed Let me clear my throat. February 24
Let me clear my throat
I picked this up based on the title of one of the essays in this collection called "Double Joy: Myron Cope and the Pittsburgh Sound."  Growing up listening to My ron Cope on Steelers games …
reviewed Under the Greenwood Tree. February 22
Under the Greenwood Tree
The concept and the execution of Seinfeld, the TV show about nothing, applies to Hardy's second novel as well.  Though nothing much happens, the feel, the characters, the places, the relationships …
reviewed Desperate remedies. February 15
Desperate remedies
Hardy became known for the depth and nuance of his morality plays but in his debut the moral landscape is simpler and clearer in its shading of black and white.  The subtle shades of gray would come …
The Life of Charles Dickens: The Illustrated Edition
But maybe not larger than this book.  The title of my review is the tag line on the back cover of this one volume 500-page abridged edition on oversized pages printed on thick glossy paper, referring …
Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus
Kyle Idleman is a pastor at a very large church in Kentucky.  I am always suspicious of churches of this size, expecting that they must be softening the message of the Bible to attract big numbers.  …
reviewed Alarms and discursions. January 16
Alarms and discursions
When Chesterton starts off this collection of newspaper essays with the claim and reason why he wanted to start the title to this book with the even-then archaic "alarums" you have a pretty …
reviewed Jim Henson: The biography. January 14
Jim Henson: The biography
Jim Henson, in Jones's biography, is an incurable optimist.  He loves his work, enjoys his coworkers (says long-term Muppeteer partner and friend Frank Oz, Henson was an "extraordinary appreciator"), …
Frozen in time: An epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of World War II
So this might be one of my least favorite holiday songs (the combination of desperate male, sultry female, and Christmas just doesn't work for me) but it is an appropriate title for this review.  …
Headhunters on my doorstep: A True Treasure Island ghost story
Troost has made a living (fragile as it may be based on his funny "hypothetical" aside about the writing/publishing process) writing short wry accounts of his overseas sojourns.  While …
The Men who united the states: America's explorers, inventors, eccentrics, and mavericks, and the creation of one nation, indivisible
Winchester, a native of England, married to the daughter of a citizen of Japan, became in 2013 a naturalized US citizen.  In his journey he has lived out the meaning of the word he often uses to …
Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game
On the Saturday and Sunday of Easter 1981 the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings played the longest professional baseball game ever.  Thirty years later Dan Barry retells the story of …
reviewed Dead run:The murder of a lawman and t.... December 26, 2013
Schultz tells an intriguing tale of three loners who leaped and lost.  But what were they reaching for?    A police officer in a small western Colorado town pulls over a tanker truck suspected …
It turns out that though there has never been a shootout at the OK Corral here, there have been some pretty wild shootouts--and holdups, and bank and train robberies, even a desperate pair of mismatched …
reviewed Fifty railroads that changed the cour.... December 23, 2013
Today railroads are romance, but we cling warily today on the shoulders of giants for whom railroads were commerce, industry, science, politics, culture and the future.  This small book documents …
reviewed Pittsburgh film history: on set in th.... December 18, 2013
Pittsburgh film history: on set in the Steel City
Not very often do I rate a book a "Waste of paper" (this is the 20th out of over 1000 reviews I've written), and I didn't want to here because I was so looking forward to this book based …
reviewed Stonehenge: A New understanding: Solv.... December 16, 2013
Stonehenge: A New understanding: Solving the mysteries of the greatest Stone Age monument
Much of what you know is about to be revised.  Pearson led a multi-year series of excavations and scientific studies in and around the world's most famous stone monoliths to prove a theory, and …
reviewed Tales from the Pittsburgh Steelers si.... December 12, 2013
Tales from the Pittsburgh Steelers sideline: A Collection of the greatest Steelers stories ever told
Slim history of Steelers goes decade by decade from 1930s to the 2013 draft.  Along the way author Grdnic had access to interview some mostly minor figures from Steeler history (the most well known …
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