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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.
Excellent, EXCELLENT, account of the deadly wildfire that became a firestorm that hit Wisconsin 1871. Very detailed, 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.
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.
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.