Despite Chicago's location beside the world’s largest source of fresh water, its low elevation at the end of Lake Michigan provided no natural method of carrying away waste. As a result, Chicago began to choke on its own sewage collecting near the shore. The befouled environment, giving rise to outbreaks of sickness and cholera, became so acute that even the ravages and costs of the American Civil War did not distract city leaders from taking action.
Chesbrough's solution was an unprecedented tunnel five feet in diameter lined with brick and dug sixty feet beneath Lake Michigan. Construction began from the shore as well as the tunnel’s terminus in the lake. With workers laboring in shifts and with clay carted away by donkeys, the lake and shore teams met under the lake three years later, just inches out of alignment. When it opened in March 1867, observers, city planners, and grateful citizens hailed the tunnel as the "wonder of America and of the world."~Goodreads Blurb
For such a simple seeming project, taking water from over there and bringing it over here, there have to be a million ways this could have ended badly. Author Benjamin Sells has not only done the hard labour of discovering all this information but also the dauntless task of putting it together in a way that makes it readable for the average reader, rather than simply a history book for engineers. I wouldn’t be able to repeat the feat with justs this book but I feel like I could hold my own in a conversation, thanks to Sells’ hard work.
I don’t often find myself singing the praises of non-fiction books because they can be too dry or you have authors who feel they must include every single fact to justify learning it. I feel like if I had been a Chicago resident some of the names might have made more sense so I have to take my own personal ignorance into account when I have questions. I would have enjoyed a bit about what strides were being made in similar problems during this time but what was given was plenty. The balance between storytelling and factual drive was well balanced and I can only hope that other readers will feel the same way.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and NorthWestern University Press in exchange for honest feedback*
The incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice...
As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.~ Goodreads Blurb
During a time when often female physical complaints were brushed off or made to see as less than important, these women, these radium girls were ingesting a poison that was replacing the calcium in their bones and eating them away from the inside. Author Kate Moore has really outdone herself with this book. Well researched and yet far from dry, she paints the picture of these women who trusted their employers to keep them safe and paid for that with their lives. This book is definitely one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read. It shows the 1920s not as some hedonistic last bash before the Great Depression but real people with real lives. There are a whole slew of facts and interesting bits that I really want to learn more about, and I have to give kudos to Moore for being able to give all the facts and keep it from bogging down the story line or worse bogging down the reader. I would recommend this to people who are interested in the discovery of new science and its effects on the population of the time.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks in exchange for honest feedback**
They called him Mickey Free. His kidnapping started the longest war in American history, and both sides--the Apaches and the white invaders--blamed him for it. A mixed-blood warrior who moved uneasily between the worlds of the Apaches and the American soldiers, he was never trusted by either but desperately needed by both. He was the only man Geronimo ever feared. He played a pivotal role in this long war for the desert Southwest from its beginning in 1861 until its end in 1890 with his pursuit of the renegade scout, Apache Kid. ~Goodreads Blurb
Instead of glossing over the various shades of humanity and presenting characters in the a simplistic black and white, good versus evil, format, Author Paul Andrew Hutton, has done exactly the opposite of that. Hutton has managed to squeeze every drop of his research into a condensed 424 pages in order to explain a thirty year war between the United states settlers and the Apache people. The detail and depth that Hutton combines in order to not only display a few chosen historical figures but a wide range, shows Hutton’s dedication to avoiding a classic pitfall of historical nonfiction writers. Where most writers would have simplified characters down to the classic “noble cowboy” versus “savage native” trope Hutton takes the time and the pages to show the horrors perpetrated by both sides.
While the sheer volume of details and facts may be off putting to some readers, I found that it enabled me to immerse myself into the past, with much more ease. The narrative style also made it easier to read instead of the standard textbook style that many fall into. There also is not much in the way of glossing over the misdeeds of both sides and if you prefer your history to be more PG than this may not be the best book for you.
*This Book was provided by BloggingForBooks and Broadway Books in exchange for honest feedback*
What explains our current obsession with selfies? In I Love My Selfie noted cultural critic Ilan Stavans explores the selfie's historical and cultural roots by discussing everything from Greek mythology and Shakespeare to Andy Warhol, James Franco, and Pope Francis. He sees selfies as tools people use to disguise or present themselves as spontaneous and casual. This collaboration includes a portfolio of fifty autoportraits by the artist ADÁL; he and Stavans use them as a way to question the notion of the self and to engage with artists, celebrities, technology, identity, and politics. Provocative and engaging, I Love My Selfie will change the way readers think about this unavoidable phenomenon of twenty-first-century life. ~Goodreads Blurb
This is definitely an interesting take on Selfies and their place within our culture. Though it reads like a dissertation, and can seem overwhelming in parts, author Ilans Stavans’ skill as a writer comes through and seeks to illuminate what he sees as the role of selfies, not only in the present world but beyond that. I enjoyed the ability of someone in an educational field to not just simplify the selfie-drive as pure vanity or hubris. Too often media tells the public that to take a selfie is to proclaim yourself better than the world, instead of the view that I took from Stavans’ book, that we are simply capture what we would like our life to look like.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Duke University Press Books in exchange for honest feedback*
"The Islamic Jesus" reveals startling new truths about Islam in the context of the first Muslims and the early origins of Christianity. Muslims and the first Christians—the Jewish followers of Jesus—saw Jesus as not divine but rather as a prophet and human Messiah and that salvation comes from faith and good works, not merely as faith, as Christians would later emphasize. What Akyol seeks to reveal are how these core beliefs of Jewish Christianity, which got lost in history as a heresy, emerged in a new religion born in 7th Arabia: Islam.
Akyol exposes this extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Jewish Christianity and Islam—a major mystery unexplored by academia. From Jesus’ Jewish followers to the Nazarenes and Ebionites to the Qu’ran’s stories of Mary and Jesus, The Islamic Jesus will reveal links between religions that seem so contrary today. It will also call on Muslims to discover their own Jesus, at a time when they are troubled by their own Pharisees and Zealots
I think for this I’m going to have to turn to a bit from Irish comedian Dara O’Briain. “...There are two reasons I don’t do jokes about Muslims. A. I don’t know a f**kin’ thing about Muslims. And B. Neither do you. So frankly it’ld’ve be pointless. I could research and write the greatest Muslim-based material you’ve ever heard, ‘Hey what’s up with the big golden horse that comes over the hill once a year and hands out cake to the kids? What’s that all about?’ And you’d all be there going, ‘Is that a thing? I’ve never of that there. Is that a thing? Oh jeez, you’ve really nailed the Muslims there, Dara. Well done, congratulations.’ By the way apologizes to any Muslims in the room who are now sitting there going, “What golden horse? The f**k is the man talking about?” I started this book with practically no real background knowledge about Islam and the Muslim faith except what I had picked up from friends of mine who do follow those teachings. My faith background is very firmly set in the Judeo-Christian section, specifically evangelical southern baptists growing up. I think that having this sort of background was probably helpful in this case as I was able to understand much of what was being shown throughout the book.
All that being said, author Mustafa Akyol has obviously put in quite a lot of effort into this book. At times it reads like a scholarly text and yet it also manages to keep it to an understandable level with explanations and footnotes. It is an interesting look at not only the role that the man Jesus had, not only in the Judeo-Christian faiths but also in the Islamic faith. The connections and, in places, the mirrored text shows not only a root faith but perhaps a connection for those of these faiths to have with each other.
*This book was provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Mustafa Akyol lives in Istanbul and is a columnist for the Turkish newspapers Hürriyet Daily News and Star. He has written opinion pieces for the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and Newsweek.
In a violent 19th century, desperate attempts by the alienists - a new wave of ‘mad-doctor’ – brought the insanity plea into Victorian courts. Defining psychological conditions in an attempt at acquittal, they faced ridicule, obstruction – even professional ruin – as they strived for acceptance and struggled for change. It left ‘mad people’ hanged for offences they could not remember, and ‘bad’ people freed on unscrupulous pleas.
Written in accessible language, this book – unlike any before it – retells twenty-five cases, from the renowned to obscure, including an attempt to murder a bemused Queen Victoria; the poisoner Dove and the much-feared magician; the king’s former wet-nurse who slaughtered six children; the worst serial killer in Britain…and more. ~Goodreads Blurb
It is probably a foreboding start to a book when the 1st listed chapter is simply a glossary and a list of the important people involved with insanity pleas in Victorian times. I will admit to having read an uncorrected proof from NetGalley, so I am hopeful that either the editors will have made the grouping of these cases easier to read or some method of categorization has made more sense out of the seemingly random flow of the book. The second chapter is not much better in layout as it is another list of the different “insanities” that people pleaded. It seems that instead of working these bits into a narrative format or a version with footnotes, Author David J. Vaughan has simply placed a series of lists for the readers to push through until they get to part of the book they can relate to, which should be the fifth part of the book, the cases themselves.
As evidence by the sheer amount of procedural shows on the air and with 456 episodes of “Law and Order” alone, people love a good mystery and court drama. The introduction of the insanity plea, is an almost guaranteed way to create a media circus in the modern world. Because it is a mental break instead of a clear visible physical effect, it has always been subject to stricter questioning than simply bad people. The whole point of a title like “Mad or Bad” is to have the audience ask the question, was there something actually wrong with these people or were they simply bad people? I'm not sure that I was able to get a solid answer to this, as the mess that these court cases could be seems to have creeped into the book itself. Though footnotes are used later on in the case files, the constant flipping back and forth between sections to identify people and topics eventually proved more annoying than anything. Hopefully in the future eBook version there will be a way to simply click a link to jump between pages instead of the search option I had to use.
This is obviously well researched and Vaughan has put a great deal of effort into it. Unfortunately for me, I found it to be a difficult read and not to my taste. There are a number of other authors who have tackled this subject and have made it more accessible to their readers. If the editors and publishers are able to iron out the wrinkles in this book, it has great promise, but right now I wouldn’t recommend it.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Pen & Sword Books for honest feedback*
Tania O’Donnell takes the reader on a journey from medieval Courtly Love, through to the sexual license of the Restoration, and Victorian propriety. Pick up historical ‘dating tips,’ from how to court (or be courted), write romantic love letters, give and receive gifts, propose and pose as a sighing swain.
The book takes a historical approach to the problem of finding a mate, with case studies of classic romantic mistakes and plenty of unusual tales. In the 14th century young men tried to impress the ladies with their footwear, donning shoes with pointed toes so long that they had to be secured with whalebone—presumably because size mattered!
A History of Courtship is an entertaining and enlightening look at seduction over the centuries.~Goodreads Blurb
Starting off by titling your book “800 Years of Seduction,” you are promising the readers a great deal of information. Instead readers of this particular book are left with a series of little bits of information from a mainly European, and predominantly United Kingdom view on seduction. While there a plethora of information gleaned from other books and several different sources are given out throughout the text, there seems to be very little real flow to the book.
If the book was able to focus on any one segment of time and be able to give details, and perhaps use a bit of narrative to give readers a focus point, it would have promise. As it is, promising 800 years worth of history with only 176 pages, both leaves the reader with not enough detail and too much jumping around. This book would be suitable for a light read and I would recommend looking at some of the references that author Tania O’Donnell has written about throughout if this is a subject that intrigues you.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*
Lisa Dickey traveled across the whole of Russia three times—in 1995, 2005 and 2015—making friends in eleven different cities, then coming back again and again to see how their lives had changed. Like the acclaimed British documentary series Seven Up!, she traces the ups and downs of ordinary people’s lives, in the process painting a deeply nuanced portrait of modern Russia.
From the caretakers of a lighthouse in Vladivostok, to the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, to a farmer in Buryatia, to a group of gay friends in Novosibirsk, to a wealthy “New Russian” family in Chelyabinsk, to a rap star in Moscow, Dickey profiles a wide cross-section of people in one of the most fascinating, dynamic and important countries on Earth. Along the way, she explores dramatic changes in everything from technology to social norms, drinks copious amounts of vodka, and learns firsthand how the Russians really feel about Vladimir Putin.~Goodreads Blurb
1995, 2005, 2015, not overly noted years and yet throughout this travel novel the sheer growth and contrast is well noted. Through little tech to the wonders of the modern age, Author Lisa Dickey takes her readers through a side of Russia that the Western World rarely gets to see. Without creating caricatures of the Russian people, we are taken from the far eastern coast through several off beaten towns, meeting people and learning their stories. With 20 years, and 3 trips to draw from, there are a plethora of stories from which Dickey could choose from. She seems to have chosen not only the ones which make her readers laugh but also ones that have personal meaning to her. Without alienating her readers, she blends together her life and the lives she’s capturing through stories and photos, to give us as honest a view as she can.
Lisa Dickey’s latest piece left me with a warm feeling. Similar to watch families greet each other at an airport during the holidays, or seeing people return home after a long tour in the military, I found myself smiling along as I read. Even with the ongoing feelings of discontent that spread during this election, towards our own government and our relationship with Russia, this book left me with a reminder that countries are made up of more than just their heads of state. Not to be cliche, but it showed that Russians are people too. We have so many stereotypes about each other from bears roaming the streets of Russia, to the typical loud uncouth American, it’s nice to see things from another view. It leaves me wondering if things would go better if we could solve all problems with a good meal and some homemade liquor. I would recommend this to people who enjoy travel and food books, an interest in Russia wouldn’t hurt but is not a requirement. I would have to recommend more bears next time as none showed up until 61% but then again I’m just an American looking for Bears in the Streets of Russia.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Lisa Dickey, author of Bears in the Streets (January 2017, St. Martin's Press), is a a longtime author and book collaborator. She has helped clients write 17 published nonfiction books, including eight New York Times Best Sellers.
Lisa began her writing career in 1994 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she wrote articles for The Moscow Times, Russian Life magazine and USA Today. Upon returning to the United States in late 1996, she worked with then-Washington Post reporter Kara Swisher on her first book, AOL.COM. From that initial collaboration, she launched a career as a ghostwriter and book doctor.
Over the next two decades, Lisa worked with high-profile clients such as Patrick Swayze, Gavin Newsom, Cissy Houston, Herbie Hancock, Cathie Black, and Whitewater partner Susan McDougal. Her collaborations have spanned a vast array of topics, from politics to business to entertainment to international relations.
As a boy, Robert D. Kaplan listened to his truck-driver father's evocative stories about traveling across America as a young man, travels in which he learned to understand the country from a ground-level perspective. In Earning the Rockies, Kaplan undertakes his own cross-country journey to recapture an appreciation and understanding of American geography that is often lost in the jet age. The history of westward expansion is examined here in a new light—not just a story of genocide and individualism, but also of communalism and a respect for the limits of a water-starved terrain—to understand how settling the West shaped our national character, and how it should shape our foreign policy. In his clear-eyed and moving meditations on the American landscape, Kaplan lays bare the roots of American greatness—the fact that we are a nation, empire, and continent all at once—and how we must reexamine those roots, and understand our geography, in order to confront the challenging, anarchic world that Kaplan describes. Earning the Rockies is a short epic, a story both personal and global in scope.~Goodreads Blurb
Reading this was like reading a thank you to his father’s shared wanderlust, and to the expansion of his mind by Bernard DeVoto.In writing this Robert D. Kaplan has managed to shine a light on the circular nature of history during a time when we might need it most. I was worried that this was going to be the sort of book that bemoans the lack of the good ol’ days, and a wishlist of the way things used to be. I was pleasantly surprised in the manner of which it showed inclusiveness and really highlighted more than simply the white folks conquering the West. There also is a deep understanding and a spark of joy in knowing that instead of simply tearing down our past to build up from the bones, more and more of America is investing in preserving our past. Whether good or bad, it is a part of us and it will shape our future in ways we might not be able to spot. The push towards isolationism and solidarity seems to be taking place in our country not from a position of strength but from a place of fear. Kaplan notes this and tries to explain the large political swing America’s political system is going through, by showing our past and how it affected us at the time.
One of the great joys about reading someone’s travel memoirs, especially if you have taken the same route, is seeing things through their eyes. Having driven from New Jersey to Montana myself not even two years ago, I find myself remembering the trip through Kaplan’s stories and descriptions. It adds another layer to the memories I already had, as I begin to understand not only the difference of locations and peoples but also the historical importance of the cities I drove through stopping only to fill a gas tank. Kaplan creates a connection to the readers, that pulls them in and shows them a land that has become simply a fly over zone for most of the country.
I would say that this book is for people who are interested in the politics of land, and have an interest in the shaping of America as a whole. Also anyone who enjoys travel memoirs will get a kick out of “Earning The Rockies.” Though I had no real knowledge of Bernard DeVoto’s work, I’ve planned to go back and read more into his backlog of works
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Random House in exchange for honest feedback*
Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His writings have also been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers and publications, and his more controversial essays about the nature of U.S. power have spurred debate in academia, the media, and the highest levels of government. A frequent theme in his work is the reemergence of cultural and historical tensions temporarily suspended during the Cold War.
In the summer of 1962, one year after East German Communists built the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans came up with a plan. They would risk prison, Stasi torture, even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Among the tunnelers and escape helpers were a legendary cyclist, an American student from Stanford, and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.
Then two U.S. television networks, NBC and CBS, heard about the secret projects, and raced to be first to air a spectacular "inside tunnel" special on the human will for freedom. The networks funded two separate tunnels in return for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries...~Goodreads Blurb
I was concerned that this was going to be a tough one to slough through. As a 90’s kid (specifically 1991) I have no real emotional attachment or memory of the Berlin Wall. You have that standard universal knowledge that there was a wall, and someone told some Russian to tear it down.(I Googled it, Reagan to Gorbachev) Other than that I didn’t have much starting knowledge. My other fear was that it was a nonfiction book, and therefore boring. As an ardent historical fiction reader, I tend to stay away from the nonfiction. This one blew me out of the water.
With author Greg Mitchell’s use of the narrative voice, I found myself being drawn into the story. Instead of simply a black and white story, Mitchell has formed all these facts into a multi faceted gem that takes all these different nations’ and governments’ views and hands you a story. He doesn’t just stop there, instead of leaving readers in the past, he brings them forward to present time to compare it to modern day walls. Though today we spend more time talking about keeping people out with our walls(i.e. Trump) rather than the East Germany goal of keeping them in.
I would recommend this book for anyone who likes history and a good spy novel. Though it’s nonfiction I think this is going to rank very high on my list of favorites. I’m going to have to go back and give nonfiction another try and definitely anything by Greg Mitchell will be on the list. I rarely give books 5-stars, yet this one had me intrigued from the first chapter.
*This book was provided by BloggingForBooks and Crown Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*
Notes about the author: Mitchell has blogged on the media and politics, for The Nation. and at his own blog, Pressing Issjes. He was the editor of Editor & Publisher (E&P), from 2002 to the end of 2009, and long ago was executive editor at the legendary Crawdaddy. His book "The Campaign of the Century" won the Goldsmith Book Prize and "Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady" was a New York Times Notable Book for 1998. He has also co-authored two books with Robert Jay Lifton, along with a "So Wrong For So Long" about the media and Iraq. His books have been optioned numerous times for movies (including "Joy in Mudville" by Tim Hanks). He has served as chief adviser to two award-winning documentaries and currently is co-producer of an upcoming film on Beethoven with his co-author on "Journeys With Beethoven."
Freelance Editor & Reviewer