Adult Book Reviews by Genre: History

 Running for My Life
Lomong, Lopez
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lopez Lomong is a phenomenal runner. When he runs, he feels as though he is free and it is the one thing that gives him immense amounts of joy. However, Lopez didn't always start out in the spotlight. In fact, his story begins in a South Sudanese war camp. "Running For My Life" is the incredible story of one boys journey from awful refugee camps to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This nonfiction story is told through Lopez himself making it a thrilling autobiography. I personally love this book because my brother was an Eritrean refugee and when he came to America, he got a scholarship for running. I don't know what it is about that particular sport, but it definitely changes lives as shown through Lomong's book. Even if you are not a fan or sports or running, "Running For My Life" teaches valuable lessons and helps us to empathize with others. It shows that love can be found everywhere in the world. Trust me when I say that you will not be bored with this book. Lopez constantly has a good attitude in life even if his best meal of the week is eating out of a trash heap (which actually happens in his refugee camp). Lopez goes with his friends to watch the Olympics on T.V at a rich man's house back in South Sudan. He sees a man holding the flag of America, tears streaming down his happy face. From that moment, Lopez decides that he wants to be that man. He wants to win an Olympic race and make his country proud. I mean he already has the running skills considering that the boys in the refugee camp have to run 18 miles in order to go play soccer!
Lopez has a spiritual journey throughout his life and his faith never wavers. Three older boys helped Lopez escape a war camp when he was six. When they got to safety, the boys disappeared. Lopez is convinced that the boys who helped him were angels. This story like no other will move you and inspire you to follow your dreams. Lomong proves that no matter who you are or where your from, you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

Reviewer's Name: Megan T.
Unbroken
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken, is a book of suffering, friendship, strength, and journey's throughout life. The story takes place in the Pacific War of WW2, following the struggle of Louie Zamperini. Louie's life starts out "untameable" drinking, stealing, and running from the cops at the early age of 10, he cause quite the mischief in his home town of Torrance, California. Later on in high school Louie is going down the wrong path, until his brother turns him around and sets him on the path of becoming an Olympic runner. Louie runs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and places 8th. Next thing you know World War Two breaks out, Louie joins the Army Air Corp and becomes a bombardier of a b-24 plane.

Next in the story, whilst on a rescue mission the "Green Hornet" a faulty B-24 crashes into the pacific ocean, taking Louie and his flight crew with it. Mac, Phil, and Louie survive the initial plane crash and face many challenges at sea. Mac dies along the way, but Louie and Phil survive 47 days at sea before being captured by the Japanese. Phil and Louie are quickly put into a Japanese p.o.w camp, where they are abused, tortured, overworked, and starved.

To avoid spoilers, I won't go further into the story, and if Louie and Phil survive or not. I HIGHLY recommend this book, it's a great eye opener for PTSD, and the Pacific side of WWII, along with intense suspense, struggle, and development of the main characters. Laura Hillenbrand does a great job or portraying this hero and survivor's story.

Reviewer's Name: Payton
Maus II: A Survivor's Tale
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus II, the sequel/continuation to Maus, continues the story of Vladek Spiegelman told by his son in the form of a comic book. This book is amazing because, just like the first, it uses an animal metaphor to easily show the reader who is who in the story. Maus II takes a darker turn because Vladek is now in the depths of Aushwitz. I love these books and their creative outlook on the War and the Holocaust. No other historical book has made me this intrigued and want to continue reading.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Maus
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus 1 is a fascinating graphic history of the Holocaust and what Jewish people went through. Artist Art Spiegelman uses a variety of metaphors to depict his fathers experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. I found this book incredible because it uses an animal metaphor like Animal Farm to give a deeper insight into the story. This graphic history, much like a graphic novel, uses lights and darks, white and black, and special images to draw the reader in and help them understand the hardships Vladek Spiegelman faced. I loved this book and think it is a must read book for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Night, by Elie Wiesel, tells of the story of the main protagonist Eliezer and the many tragedies he faced in German concentration camps during World War II. The protagonist narrates the entire book in a first-person and unbiased manner, which exposes the emotional truth of the Holocaust and provides an autobiography of the real author’s experience during the war. Eliezer, the main protagonist and counter part to the real Elie Wiesel, is forced to approach his ever-changing relationship with friends and family, many conflicts and struggles, and a plethora of situations that threaten his existence throughout the book. His reactions to these various obstacles exhibit the Holocaust survivor’s unique traits that set him apart from other Protagonists. Like Eliezer, every character in the book is developed fully with vivid traits that the real Elie remembers about them. The autobiography is fascinating and tells a compelling story while informing the reader about what really happened during the Holocaust, and I would reccomend it to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Sniper is the biography of the most lethal sniper in the United States military, who was apart of the United States Navy SEALs. The biography encompasses the story of Chris Kyle, to which it describes the story of both his military tours and his own personal/civilian life. This autobiography adheres towards the intriguing events that Kyle experienced within his life.

American Sniper was a very well written book that did a great job describing the embellishments and challenges that Kyle faced, when he was a SEAL or just a civilian. Personally, the book is one of the best that surpasses many other titles that I have read. I highly recommend it to other readers.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
The First Conspiracy
Meltzer, Brad
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you think you knew everything about the American Revolution, then this novel will prove you wrong. Taking place in the most critical era in America's history, this novel details a very unknown story about George Washington. The story follows him and his group of Life Guards, soldiers tasked with protecting Washington's life, as a conspiracy rages around them.
And unbeknownst to Washington, his Life Guards are now tasked by the British with killing the future president. The novel poses a very thought-provoking "What if?" question that provides for a very intense and hard to put down historical non-fiction novel. The novel provides insight into not only this virtually unknown story, but also shows the reader how close the US was to losing the Revolution. This novel is one of the best historical non-fiction books I have read. I would highly recommend to history buffs, fans of non-fiction, or anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-up
Harris, Sheldon
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is for the historian who wants to know more about what happened in the world in the 1930-1940's. We all know about WWII. Most of know about the Nazi Concentration camps. A few know of the human experiments done by the Nazi's. But did you know that Japan was doing human experimentation as well? Did anyone know that Imperial Japan was active in Bacteriological and Chemical Warfare? This is an in depth look at the people behind the atrocities and those behind the cover-up. The author even talks a little about why we know little about Japanese human experimentation and a lot about Nazi Concentration camps.

I found this book enlightening and thorough. My overall view of the world during this time period is filling out and becoming more complete.

Reviewer's Name: Rachel
Genres:
Killing the SS
O'Reilly, Bill, Dugard, Martin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard are known for writing some fantastic historical novels, and Killing the SS upholds that idea. It is the latest installment in O'Reilly and Dugard's Killing series. This novel tells the story of the global postwar hunt for Nazi war criminals and how they were brought to justice, or how they escaped altogether. The big four written about were Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, who was the physician at Auschwitz and performed horrific medical experiments on the prisoners; Adolf Eichmann, charged with managing the mass deportation of millions of Jews to death camps; Martin Bormann, who was in charge of legislation and domestic matters regarding Nazi Germany; and Klaus Barbie, who was known as the Butcher of Lyon due to the fact that he personally tortured and killed thousands of Gestapo prisoners in Lyon, France. The book itself is a fantastic read, as it is suspenseful, engaging, and is the history buff's dream. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves history, or anyone who is a fan of the Killing series.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
The Nazi Hunters
Bascomb, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi responsible for the deaths of millions of people during the holocaust, disappeared without a trace after the war ended. An Israeli group of spies, known as the Mossad, along with other key allies carefully locate and capture Eichmann in an attempt to bring him to a fair trial in front of the entire world. Several of the members of the mission survived concentration camps and nearly all of them had lost family there. Thus, they were determined to complete their mission, even if it lasted fifteen years and took them to the other side of the world. I highly recommend this non-fiction adventure to anyone interested in the holocaust or looking for great a spy thriller.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Genres:
Irena's Children
Mazzeo, Tilar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved 2,500 children during the purging of Jewish people from Warsaw during World War II. This book details the trials and tribulations faced not only by Irena but the people and children of Warsaw. The underground network formed by Irena and her many friends allowed thousands of children to be placed with different families and continue living rather than being sent to German camps. I was truly awed by the courage described in this book and the measures taken by the people of Warsaw to save the lives of children who weren't even theirs or their friends. The horrors of World War II are indescribable but the necessity of remembering it is imperative, especially when stories like this are nearly unheard of

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Hazelet's Journal
Hazelet, George Cheever
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This review is really about a spread of books I found or was able to access through PPLD. After an enjoyable visit to Skagway, AK, I became interested in Klondike Gold Rush history. Through the PPLD catalog and an interlibrary loan I accessed: Hazelet's Journal by George Cheever Hazelet: If you enjoy history from original sources, this book will draw you in as the author writes honestly about a business failure that led him to seek gold in Alaska. The arduous travels searching for gold are documented both by journal and amazing photographs. It is a slow read for someone who enjoys more of a "story." Although Cheever fails in the gold rush, as well, the stage was set for eventual successes that were instrumental in Alaska frontier development.

Journey (fiction) by James Michener: A quick read that will be more enjoyable to the reader looking for a story within the historical background of the gold rush. Four Englishmen and an Irishman push their way across Canada to Dawson City, fulfilling the image of the phrase "Mad dogs and Englishmen."

Gold! The Klondike Adventure by Delia Ray: Young Adult book that provides an easy-to-read purview with photographs of the rush, perils, commercialism, and subculture that arose between Skagway and Dawson City. Prospectors and merchants alike sought riches on the Alaskan frontier within a very short timeframe: 1897-1900.

Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton: Subtitled The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, this book provides an exhaustive and interesting read about the gold rush from many different angles. This book was accessed through an interlibrary loan. However, the book was so old it was not pleasant to read so I am hoping PPLD will purchase a new edition. It is a very good book!

Reviewer's Name: Rita
Apollo 8
Kluger, Jeffrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Darwin's First Theory
Wesson, Rob
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everyone knows the name Darwin. The name is synonymous with one of the most important theories ever generated by mankind. At this point in the world, the name is less a name and more a representation of something much greater. Yet, as Mr. Welson leads us to question in his book Darwin’s First Theory, how deeply do we truly know the man who changed the face of our understanding of earth forever?

Written by leading geologist Rob Welson, Darwin's first theory explores the beginning of Charles Darwin’s quest to find a theory of the earth, and explores how his early theories helped shape his future and most famous theory of evolution. By bringing us along through well-researched narration of Mr. Darwin’s first journey on the HMS Beagle, Mr. Welson brings us to a greater understanding of the man whose theory shaped modern biology around the world. Darwin’s First Theory is an informative read. To anyone interested in Darwin, and interested in a greater understanding of biology's most influential theory, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth D
Book Review: 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic
Brewster, Hugh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

All Titanic lovers must read this. It is very straightforward and this book covered a lot of the questions I had. I recommend this book for ages 12+ because it’s a very serious book about a world-wide known tradegy and it covers sensitive topics that demand full respect. I thouroughly enjoyed reading it. It taught me more about this beautiful ship than I’ve ever known. 882.5 Amazing Answers to your Questions about the Titanic is worth reading! I rate it 4 stars because it was truly helpful and a great read.

Reviewer's Name: Kaitlyn S
Awards:
Genres:
The Invisible Wall
Bernstien, Harry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry is a small boy living in a war torn part of England. His street is divided by an invisible wall… a wall divided the Jews from the Christians.
There is an unspoken hatred of the other side, and any possible relationship between the two sides is crushed. But what happens when a Jew and a Christian fall in love? Harry’s elder sister begins to love a Christian boy, and is treated horribly for it. She is beaten by her drunken father and shamed by her family and friends. Harry is forced to choose between what he knows to be right and what he has been raised to accept is right.This book is nonfiction.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was wonderfully written and I loved the author’s narration. Although, I felt like nothing good ever happened. It seemed like the author was just choosing the most terrible, most horrendous things and depicting that as the everyday life. Who knows? Maybe that’s how it actually was.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T
Hidden Like Anne Frank
Prins, Marcel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really enjoyed this book. It is true stories of kids who survived the Holocaust. All of the stories have sadness in them and, all are incredible. I recommend this book to everyone who hasn’t read it yet. It is a great (and easy) read. If you looking for a good non-fiction book for school or just for fun, this is the book for you!

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Genres:
The Great Escape
Brickhill, Paul
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The nonfiction book, The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill informs the reader of life in a German Prisoner of War (POW) camp during World War II. Through many incidents, hundreds of POWs are collected and imprisoned in the camp Stag Luft III, but they eventually move to other camps. The book succeeds, as it feels like a fiction, adventure novel and doesn't bore you with facts.
It makes the reader feel as though they are with the prisoners and their captors, including Roger Bushell and the "Artful Dodger." Throughout the story of the prisoners, they make many attempts to escape, such as clipping through the prison wire and digging multiple tunnels. The POWs evasive tactics do eventually pay off, and the book describes how they escape and suffer through the horrible German torture methods for recaptured prisoners.
Overall, the book has been one of my favorite books, and I feel that people who like adventure will like The Great Escape.
Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
King Leopold's Ghost
Hochschild, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adam Hochschild brings to light an important part of history that is largely ignored in relations to the horrors of the colonization of Africa. Hochschild follows, in detail, the formation of the Belgium colony in the Congo. His descriptions and the information he puts forth draws the readers in and highlights the travesty that King Leopold let loose on this part of Africa and its people. The details that Hochschild puts into his book reveals hidden intrigues that keep the readers engaged. And the history that Hochschild relates to the development of this colony allows readers to see the bigger picture. This book addresses key topics, like racism and slavery, that develop readers understanding of this time and the need to prevent similar situations in the future.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
A Colony in a Nation
Hayes, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chris Hayes, a journalist on MSNBC, wrote this book after his experience reporting in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in 2014. In the book, he posits that we treat people of color in this country the same way that King George treated the colonists in the lead-up to the Revolutionary War: by enacting a police state that exploits the few for some sort of economic gain. We exist as two entities in this country: the Nation, which is concerned with upholding the law, and the Colony, in which we're more concerned with creating order.

This was a quick, excellent read. I'm usually not a fan of using personal anecdotes to make a point, but Hayes does that effectively here: most noticeably because he then will follow an anecdote with data to back up whatever it is he's saying. The anecdotes, though, make the book particularly interesting, especially because they are often presented as a "what if" thought experiment as to how Hayes' experience might have been different had he been a person of color. Part history lesson, part social justice treatise, A Colony in a Nation is a book that's not to be missed, particularly by those that are concerned with issues within the criminal justice system, and the egregious civil and human rights violations that are enacted upon citizens of color in the United States. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt

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