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Staff Book Reviews by Genre: History

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler
Freedman, Russell
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Russell Freedman's book chronicling the White Rose Resistance Movement is a brief but enlightening overview of the resistance to the Nazi's in WWII that will sure to spark interest in history for teens and adults. Freeman's work is always well researched, well written and he includes many interesting historical photos as well as an index, notes and a great selected bibliography for further exploration. Spoiler alert to parents, readers will encounter gruesome facts about the execution of the movements members, so parent pre-reading is advised. For ages 12 - 18.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
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
Book Review: Our Country's Presidents
Bausum, Ann
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a very interesting book about the presidents. It's well written and concise, but not overly so. This would be a good source for a history report or you can do what I did, which was read it from cover to cover. Two thumbs up!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Book Review: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Warren, Andrea
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

There are a crap ton of holocaust books out there. That said, this is a good one. The author interviews a survivor and recounts his horrible tenure in the death camps. The result is riveting. This book is classified as juvenile, but it's best for upper elementary and older, including adults.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
The Perfect Horse
Letts, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A book for all horse lovers and WWII buffs. Very well written and researched, it reads like a novel. I couldn't put it down as it kept me on the edge of my seat. Elizabeth Letts tells for the first time the full story of the U.S. Army's rescue of priceless treasures - the Lipizzaner of Austria, the Arabians of Poland, as well as stallions from Hungary and Yugoslavia - just as WWII is drawing to a close in a race against time before the Russians arrive. You will cheer and you will cry as you read the plight of horses caught in the middle of a war, pawns of the Nazis who tried to breed the ultimate war horse, their lives forever changed and the heroic men who risked their lives because of their passion and love of horses. Highly recommended!

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth
Genres:
Book Review: A Dream of Freedom
McWhorter, Diane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book recounts the tumultuous Civil Rights Era. It covers everything from the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, Sit-ins, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panthers, and much more. It's well organized, engaging, and powerfully written. I learned so much! This book is classified as juvenile nonfiction, but only upper elementary would likely benefit from it. It's better suited for teen nonfiction and of course for adults like me.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
The Secret Rooms
Bailey, Catherine
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I really was intrigued by this book. It was promoted as a mystery and I love a good mystery. Especially a true-life mystery surrounding the death of John Manners, the 9th Duke of Rutland. In the beginning I was very intrigued and couldn't put the book down. But after awhile, I just couldn't take it anymore. Catherine Bailey took an interesting piece of British history and some how turned it into a tedious, uninteresting story. Plus, she never really delivered on all of the mysteries she found surrounding John Manners. I think this book could have been much more interesting with A LOT of editing. I do admit, I did learn some interesting tidbits. Not enough for me to recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Awards:
Hidden America
Laskas, Jeanne Marie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I really enjoyed this book! I'm not much of a nonfiction reader, but Jeanne Marie Laskas kept me interested in all of the stories of Hidden America. I learned so much. I have to admit, I never really think about how my fresh fruit gets to me, but after reading the chapter on migrant workers, I am not sure I will look at my daily apple the same way. Also, I thought she did a great job when she went to Yuma, Arizona to the gun shop. That story didn't turn out like I expected it to. But the best chapter is about our trash and the people who tend to it. I just thought a landfill was a place where our garbage went to never be seen again. But there is a lot that goes into landfills and garbage. This was such a fascinating book! A great read and a really good book for a book group. So much to discuss!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Grunt
Roach, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Roach covers military science in a way that seemingly only she can: by covering the weird, little known aspects like genitalia injuries, shark repellent, military fashion, and, of course, diarrhea. The result is an interesting, engaging and very accessible non-fiction read.

I listened to this book, and I think that was probably a mistake. Mary Roach tends to jump around from topic to topic even within a larger topic (in a chapter about shark repellent you may jump from sharks to polar bears pretty abruptly), which can be fun to read, but was hard to listen to. Zone out for a minute, and you'll find yourself completely lost. My listening enjoyment was also hampered by the insane amount of acronyms used by the military. I had a lot of "wait, what does that stand for again?" moments, and in an audiobook, there's not really a way to go back and check, and its not like I'm going to google whilst driving. Oh yeah, and the narrator was not to my taste. Her voice just didn't do it for me.

But overall, it managed to be both informative and funny which is not an oft found combination. I really enjoyed it, and I'll be booktalking this one in the fall.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Rutter, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Not exactly a meticulously researched volume on the women in the West. Lots of speculation. However, it was very readable and interesting. I liked that the author tried to make the subjects as human as possible. It's so strange to me that these women lived in a West that was so raw and untamed little more than a century ago. Good, quick read.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Bragg, Georgia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is hilarious, clever, disgusting, educational, and all-around awesome! I read it during my lunch break at work which I don't recommend as the content is really gross. But seriously, read this awesome disgusting book!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Sheinkin, Steve
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Everything they probably taught you in middle school, but WAY more entertaining and fascinating! Steve Sheinkin wrote textbooks and then vowed to make it up to us with engaging narratives of history. The espionage, the intrigue, the science, and the implications of it all kept me returning to this Newbery Honor book. The many facts with which Sheinkin presents the reader are accessible as well as interesting, and the use of original photographs puts faces to names and gives perspective to the devastation caused by the weapons. Excellently cited, Sheinkin paves the way for researchers and history buffs young and old to continue their reading on this fascinating time in our nation's past.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Genres:
Dikkers, Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Very funny, especially on eAudio. I liked the Luxembourg section the best but they were all good.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Lansing, Alfred
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

An incredible true story that details the leadership, skills and experience of Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they survive daunting odds and extreme misery while attempting to cross Antarctica. While the book starts a bit slowly, a few chapters in it is near impossible to set down. It reminds us of the endless capability of man to survive in situations where death seems to be the only option available.

Reviewer's Name: Greg
Millard, Candice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Great for the reader interested in history, science, and adventure. A wonderful insight into Theodore Roosevelt's lifelong love for nature.

Reviewer's Name: Abby
DiLorenzo, Thomas J.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

For people wanting to learn more about teh 16th president, this is an eye opening book. Mr. DiLorenzo uses original sources to show the truth about Mr. Lincoln's worldview and agenda. Many people will be scratching their heads, wondering why the history of Lincoln has been so misrepresented.

The book is very readable, and engaging, causing the reader to want to see the whole extent of Lincoln's atrocities, from the suspension of habeus corpus to the destruction of newspapers critical of him and his war to prevent southern independence.

I highly recommend this book, especially for the defenders of Lincoln, as it will show them the truth about Abraham Lincoln.

Reviewer's Name: John
Hubalek, Linda K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It was an interesting look into the life of a woman who moved with her husband to the Kansas prairie to homestead land. The difficulties and hardships put a new perspective on life of a homesteader. When she first came she didn't even speak the language. Her and her husband lived in a dirt cave for the first year or so and eventually built a home. The story was written like a diary. Her great granddaughter wrote the book and included pictures of her great grandmother and other relatives. The writer actually grew up in the homestead.

Reviewer's Name: Pat
Egan, Timothy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I recently read Timothy Egan's latest book, "Short Nights of the Shadowcathcher," a biography of Edward S. Curtis, famous for his photos of Native Americans at the turn of the century. Although I was familiar with his photos, I didn't realize he also recorded languages on wax cylinders and filmed disappearing Native American ceremonies, which tribes later used to recreate their languages and cultures. With partial funding from JP Morgan, and the moral support of Teddy Roosevelt, he published 20 volumes on the North American Indian, a task that consumed his life. I also did not realize that in 1914, he produced a motion picture using members of the Kwakiutls tribe on Vancouver Island. After positive reviews, the film was tied up in litigation with the distributor and disappeared into storage. The last remaining copy was found in 1972 and carefully restored. On a whim, I looked for the film in the library and, to my amazement, learned that Pikes Peak Library District has a copy on DVD. Amazing what you can find at our libraries!!!!

Reviewer's Name: Terri
Alexander, Caroline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven set sail for the South Atlantic in August of 1914. Their goal was to complete the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. This expedition was one of history's greatest epics of survival. Original glass plate negatives of the expedition survived and provide unforgettable images of the adventure.

Reviewer's Name: J Beck
Genres:
Egan, Timothy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Many readers may have seen Edward Curtis's turn-of-the-last-century sepia photographs of Native Americans--the photograph of Chief Joseph or that of a line of Indians on horseback, small in comparison with the monumental rock formations of the southwest, traversing Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.
Born in 1868, Edward Curtis devoted his life to documenting in photographs and text the life of the North American Indian--in the end, producing a twenty-volume collection of books. Egan's fascinating and informative book narrates the story of Curtis's life and life work, time spent with Indians of the southwest, the northern plains, the northwest coast, and Alaska. Egan relates Curtis's association with, among other well-known Americans, Teddy Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. Readers interested in the history of photography, in the history of the United States, and in the history of Native Americans would enjoy this book.

Reviewer's Name: Bill

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