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The Long shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth CenturyThe Long Shadow
With the assassination of a mid level royalty in a mid level city in Eastern Europe, entangling alliances and inept political decision making sent the world spiraling into the first major 20th Century …
The Invention of Air
After reading Johnson's latest, How we got to now,  I found this book from 2008 on the shelf in my excellent local public library, and discovered that it contains a tightly argued statement of …
How we got to now: Six innovations that made the modern world
Johnson is a master of popular science writing (see The Ghost map and Everything bad is good for you as examples) and hits this minor classic with the perfect blend of science, history, and and the "intercrossing&qu …
Fields of blood: Religion and the history of violence
Armstrong traces the relationship of the spiritual to the justification and use of violence through the history of human patterns of civilization from nomadic to agrarian to the modern nation-state.  …
The Humor code: A Global search for what makes things funny
Comedy, like pornography, is notoriously hard to define, but you know it when you see (or read, hear, or watch) it.  McGraw, a psychology professor,and Warner, a journalist, wrote this book to try …
The Map thief: The gripping story of an esteemed rare-map dealer who made millions stealing priceless maps
E. Forbes Smiley is the subject of Blanding's true-crime tale of missing maps.  While he was once a big-time dealer in rare early maps of North America, and widely respected for his scholarship …
Smoke gets in your eyes & other lessons from the crematory
Death means the end of life.  It means separation from loved ones, the end of life's work, entrance into eternity.  It is universal, it is inevitable, it is all of these things so central …
A Laodicean (Penguin Classics)
In a retrospective edition of his collected works near the end of his life Hardy classed A Laodicean as one of his "Novels of Ingenuity" and not one of the "Novels of Character and Environment."  …
The Transformation of the world: A Global history of the Nineteenth Century
Historians sometimes talk about the "long" 19th Century, marking its start with the bang of the Age of Revolution in America and France in the late 1700s and staggering to a bitter end in the …
Sketches of young gentleman and young couples with Sketches of young ladies by Edward Caswell
This slim volume is nearly as interesting for its history as for its literary value.  Published under the pen name Quiz, Sketches of young ladies was written and published first by the now nearly …
Money: The Unauthorized biography
Martin's expose of money may take readers by surprise.  It isn't about coins and bills and inflation, although those are elements of the story.  And it isn't a dry recounting of …
I have seen the future: A Life of Lincoln Steffens
A well-turned phrase often repeated can become the word picture representing a person's life.  Unfortunately for Lincoln Steffins his phrase was one of the most wrongheaded and easily ridiculed …
reviewed The Trumpet-Major. October 04
The Trumpet-Major
Combining the powerful writing style of a great author with the explosive ingredients of the French Revolution (Dickens's Two Cities) and its Napoleonic aftermath (Hardy's Major) is apparently …
Birdmen: The Wright brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the battle to control the skies
The history of the Wright brothers and the invention of powered flight has been well-covered and usually from the position of admiring the brothers' ingenuity, persistence, and engineering prowess.    …
reviewed The Fifties. September 24
The Fifties
My title for this review works both ways.         Halberstam writes in classic narrative history style when tackling a subject as a broad as a decade.  He doesn't …
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of journalism
Teddy Roosevelt has always been such a ridiculously heroic figure in American history, and from my high school history classes I dimly associate the muckraking journalists of what Goodwin calls this Golden …
reviewed Jerusalem: City of longing. August 15
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 …
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