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reviewed Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2.... April 03
When we last encountered Mr. Clements in Volume 1 he was lounging about in his signature white suit dictating his "autobiography"--which was a rambling unchronological stroll through whatever …
reviewed Victoria: A Life. March 22
For the queen of the British Empire at its apex and the emblem of an entire age and culture that bears her name, I realized when I saw this book on the shelf that I knew next to nothing about the woman …
The Delbert McClinton song by that title is about how the things we own can end up owning us.   Miodownik's small classic is about how important, complex, and fascinating are the materials …
reviewed Stuff matters: Exploring the marvelou.... March 18
The Delbert McClinton song by that title is about how the things we own can end up owning us.   Miodownik's small classic is about how important, complex, and fascinating are the materials …
reviewed The Birth of the modern: World societ.... March 18
Johnson takes a small slice of time and spends 1,000 pages documenting the political, scientific, technical, financial, cultural, and artistic people, places, and events.  There are two keys to making …
reviewed The Deluge: The Great War, America an.... February 25
When commentators today speak of a "New World Order" they do so in capital letters as if it were a specific proposal and a strictly current one.  What Tooze attempts and succeeds at here …
reviewed How Star Wars conquered the universe:.... February 17
Today after finishing Conquered, I wanted to rewatch Star Wars (which to me means the original "4th Episode") and finding we didn't own it or have access to it through any of our streaming …
reviewed Throwback: A Big-league catcher tells.... February 12
Loyal Pirates fans like myself will remember that during the 20 dark years the Pirates always had one good player who, despite the designated pity slot, usually deserved to make the All-Star team.  …
reviewed Shadow Country. February 07
Shadow Country
Like Tolkien's original Lord of the Rings manuscript, Matthiessen wrote Shadow Country as a single extended novel, but his publisher insisted on breaking it into a trilogy.  While the series …
The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)
Unfortunately Hopkirk talks a good game about the Great Game but doesn't deliver.  The Great Game is the name Rudyard Kipling immortalized in his classic novel Kim about the imperial cold war …
reviewed The Quantum moment: How Planck, Bohr,.... December 31, 2014
The formulas and theories of quantum mechanics explain how light in fact acts like both a wave and a particle, and this book documents how the bizarre side effects of the explanation have unsettled the …
reviewed To the edge of the world: The Story o.... December 29, 2014
To the edge of the world: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Express, the world's greatest railroad
Railroads in history have always driven economic, technical, and cultural change, but only one has both created a country and contributed to its downfall less than a century later.  It takes a big …
reviewed Kim. December 26, 2014
I had never Kipled before now (punch line to the old joke that starts "Do you like Kipling?") and picked this up at a used book sale as a bolster to my library of reading and thought on the …
reviewed Rebel yell: The Violence, passion, an.... December 24, 2014
Rebel yell: The Violence, passion, and redemption of Stonewall Jackson
Thomas Jackson was the rarest of men who performed best under extreme conditions.  Despite his dyspeptic health, his misfit personality in civilian life, and his odd and hated approach to teaching …
reviewed The Long shadow: The Legacies of the .... December 06, 2014
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 …
reviewed The Invention of Air. December 05, 2014
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 …
reviewed How we got to now: Six innovations th.... November 26, 2014
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 …
reviewed Fields of blood: Religion and the his.... November 24, 2014
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.  …
reviewed The Humor code: A Global search for w.... November 17, 2014
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 …
reviewed The Map thief: The gripping story of .... November 15, 2014
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 …
reviewed Smoke gets in your eyes & other lesso.... November 13, 2014
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 …
reviewed A Laodicean (Penguin Classics). November 12, 2014
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."  …
reviewed The Transformation of the world: A Gl.... November 09, 2014
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 …
reviewed Sketches of young gentleman and young.... October 13, 2014
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 …
reviewed Money: The Unauthorized biography. October 12, 2014
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 …
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