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James Joyce's "DUBLINERS" is an exceptional collection of stories/portraits about some of the residents of Dublin, Ireland early in the 20th century. Joyce's writing is lyrical, intimate and insightful. His characters run the gamut from very poor to very wealthy, and all have their personal battles, triumphs, and jarring revelations. I had heard of this book for years, but never read it because I was intimidated by the fear that his writing would be difficult to understand. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth! Joyce writes in a modern tone that is easy to read and understand. His characters could easily be people from our present day, as their situations transcend time and cultures. This is a book to be read one or two stories at a time (the better to reflect upon). As a whole, DUBLINERS is both astounding and fulfilling. I highly - highly - recommend this classic to all readers!
"DEAD WAKE" is the book that drew me to the rest of Erik Larson's works. This is the suspenseful and heartbreaking historical account of the sinking of the Lusitania. Larson's narrative style easily propels the reader into the lives of the passengers (all factual, by the way); his talent for describing the on board atmosphere and the nuances of the time period are so lucid, one can actually smell the varnished wood walls, the pipe tobacco, and expensive perfume.
Yet, the Lusitania and its crew and passengers are not the only focus of this intimately-researched account. Larson takes us into the German submarine (u-boat) - the stifling heat, the cramped, claustrophobic quarters, and the minds of the dedicated crew and officers. Strange how the same men who risked their lives to save drowning puppies from the brine have no such compassion for fellow human beings on the ships they are ordered to torpedo and sink!
This is a long read, but a page-turner that dissolves all realization of time passing. DEAD WAKE is an incredibly detailed true account of one of the greatest criminal acts of the Twentieth Century. Although the memory of it will stay with you forever, you will want to read this book more than once, and you will undoubtedly recommend it to your friends and family.
Isaac is a meteorologist in the early 20th Century who realizes the coming hurricane to Galveston, Texas will be a monster of epic proportions. This true and heavily researched account brings us into the heart of the storm, the lives of the people affected by it, and the burgeoning precision of hurricane forecasting. The hard cover and paperback versions include maps. I am not certain about the e-book version, as my only copy is paperback. If you are a student of history and - especially - historic disasters, this one will earn a permanent spot on your Keeper Shelf.
Excellent, EXCELLENT, account of the deadly wildfire that became a firestorm that hit Wisconsin 1871. Very detailed (includes maps), and in-depth portrayal of the people affected by this horror. Drawn from numerous historical archives, newspaper accounts, eye-witness accounts and scientific findings, FIRESTORM AT PESHTIGO is riveting and almost impossible to put down once you begin reading. This book has my highest recommendation, not only to readers of history, but to readers who love a page-turning drama (only this one is non-fiction, which makes it more compelling).
ORDEAL BY HUNGER: THE STORY OF THE DONNER PARTY
BY GEORGE R. STEWART
Definitive account of this historic tragedy. Not for the squeamish.
Some reviewers on other sites have complained about typographic errors and mis-spellings in their editions of this book. Please know that the e-book was digitized from print, and a FEW letters copied wrong at the beginning or middle of some words during that process. Not a big deal. The other "mis-spellings" mentioned by some readers are in verbatim copies of letters and diary entries written by Donner Party survivors; most people were not highly educated in those days and tended to write words as they heard or spoke them. So... please ignore the nitpickers, and give this worthy book a read.
Holy Toledo! This is a fantastic book! Intimately researched, and the results show. Author Martin Dugard brings Stanley and Livingstone to life, so to life, that I now feel as if I had known them myself.
He also brings the incredible and diverse continent of Africa to life, a strange, beautiful and often times foreboding land that dares to be conquered. It takes a brave and determined soul to attempt to challenge it, and Dr. Livingstone, following in the footsteps of previous explorers, does just that and more in his quest to find the source of the Nile River. When Dr. Livingstone is eventually regarded as missing and presumed dead, the fiery and passionate newspaper reporter Stanley is assigned the task of finding the truth. Once in Africa, Stanley soon wonders if he is in over his head, yet his determination to find Dr. Livingstone - dead or alive - spurs him on to the point of obsession.
This is a tale of two extraordinary men, two world powers, and one mysterious land on the verge of exploitation. Descriptive, gritty, heartbreaking and beautiful all at once, "INTO AFRICA: THE EPIC ADVENTURES OF STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE" will keep you reading until your eyes cross, at which point you'll want to still keep reading. I highly, HIGHLY, recommend it!
True story of an American Diplomat and his family sent to Germany during the rise of Hitler and his Final Solution. Initially charmed by the people they meet and develop relationships with, they learn almost too late they are in the "Garden of Beasts."
This is an excellent (and probably the definitive) account of one of the worst man-made disasters in American history. Told by those who experienced it first-hand,
"The Worst Hard Time..." is both disturbing and inspiring. If you are unfamiliar with this dark time in our country, you must read this to fully understand how it happened, why it happened, and
how those who rode it out survived it.
There is really nothing I can add here that hasn't already been written in the many reviews on Amazon. Check it out for yourself. This book should be required reading in schools.
MEDICAL CARE OF THE SOUL
by Bruce Bartlow, M.D.
Dr. Bruce Bartlow, M.D., mining his vast experience as a critical care physician and nephrologist, has written an excellent guide for those facing end-of-life issues and for those who are caring for them. It is also a book for all who are presently healthy, for there is not a one of us who can escape the inevitable. Yeah... we don't like to THINK about it, much less talk or read about it. But, whether we like it or not, we have to be prepared for it.
Don't let the subject matter steer you away from this book; it is a sensitive and even joyful guide to how to live while dying, and - for caregivers - how to make the most of caring for that person who is approaching their final days. At once compassionate, insightful, and practical, Dr. Bartlow shares his experience and knowledge to help us make the most of our precious time. This main focus of this book is on the "soul issues" - our emotional and psychological reaction to the Reaper waiting in the wings. He shows the reader how to explore the soul and how to discern the needs of the soul as "the time" draws nigh. In his beautiful chapter called, "The Soul As Legacy: Beneath the Stones, These Words," Dr. Bartlow shows us how our life and death - how we lived our life and how we prepared for our death - is a balm of healing for those we leave behind.
As to the tedious "practical matters," he guides the reader through the process of including spiritual beliefs and life outlook into the preparations for our Grand Exit. What do we want if we are at the point of whether or not to pull the plug? How do we plan and what do we want for our final arrangement? What is a Living Will? What is a Power of Attorney? What is a Physicians' Directive? What is a DNR?
But, all that practical stuff aside, the crux of his message is that we must dig down into the core of our total being to live gracefully and die gracefully, and he shows us how.
Beautifully written, sensitive, insightful, and thought-provoking, I give this book my highest recommendation.
Everything you need to know about how and why this Flu epidemic became such a killer, and the many scientists enlisted to find the cure. Also covers the effect this epidemic had on daily life for the average citizen and medical personnel struggling to avoid infection while trying to save others. If I had ten thumbs, I would give this book 10 Thumbs-Up!
This is another can't-stop-reading page-turner that has my highest recommendation. Just as in "Firestorm at Peshtigo" and "The Worst Hard Time," the catastrophic flood that wiped out Johnstown near the turn of the 20th century was another man-made disaster. This time, it was a poorly engineered and constructed dam that gave way and swept people to their doom.
Author David McCullough writes about the people involved with such descriptiveness that we come to know them and share their horror as the devastation sweeps through their homes and businesses, and we share their misery and grief with the outcome.
Author Lee Goldberg takes us on an odyssey with Martin Slade, a television executive and frustrated writer, through earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles and vicinity. This is one of the few times I have finished reading a novel in one day; it’s that good. Martin, also called, “Marty,” has no choice but to walk from Los Angeles to his home and wife in the distant hillsides of Calabassa. Injured during the main shock, the walk is no easy task, but he is determined to make it. Along the way, he encounters some people that he ordinarily wouldn’t meet or associate with under normal circumstances, and they force him to endure challenges that he once believed was beyond his limitations. In the meantime, the aftershocks keep coming, creating more damage and hazards, and each occurrence drums up flashbacks of disaster movies he’d seen, which brings a lot of humor to the story. At one point, Martin even begins to sing every television show theme song he can remember as he hikes through an area caught in the midst of a raging fire.
The writing is very good, and the story moves along at a quick pace with no dull moments. Goldberg’s description of the damage and aftermath is spot-on to what it would be like in an actual major earthquake over a wide area. It makes the readers ponder what they would do in a similar situation, how well prepared they are, and if they could endure the hardship, physically and mentally, during a disaster of such immensity.
The only criticism I have is that the narrative needed more diligent proofreading, but that does not take away from the overall quality of the writing or the story.
So, THE WALK has joined my Recommendation List. You will enjoy it, and maybe even learn something from it.