History

Book Review: Pandora's Lab

Pandora's Lab book jacket
Author: 
Offit, Paul A.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Science is an interesting realm. The public would sure like to think that all scientists are dedicated to finding the purest form of some scientific concept and modifying it to benefit society. However, some things become readily clear: not all societies are the same, and science can be abused. If anything, some of the worst scientific discoveries of the last few centuries were made with the best intentions. Unfortunately, more often than not, the full science wasn’t brought to the table, and plenty of people suffered because of it. Enter Pandora’s Lab, a selection of a few of the worst scientific discoveries and the stories behind what made them go awry.

Each of the scientific discoveries covered in this book had slightly different negative impacts on the world, but the reason why they became so notorious is almost ubiquitous. Science is no place for emotion, so finding quick fixes for something by using science can create worse problems than the ones that were initially there. Scientific rigor is also of utmost importance. Even if many of these horrific discoveries received Nobel prizes, hindsight showed skewed results from the start. Every new and fantastic technology created from scientific research should be scrutinized with a heaping of salt to ensure it can’t be abused.

On the flip side, ignoring sound scientific facts or not considering the full, worldwide implications of a discovery is just as dangerous. Ignorance is bliss, as long as the consequences don’t directly impact you. While we do have the benefit of hindsight, it’s essential to use the lessons presented in this book. We need to examine the science and technology being developed today and do our due diligence to make sure that they don’t inspire genocide or doom all of humanity to an unsustainable new way of life.

A grave lesson about the consequences of bad science, I give Pandora’s Lab 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. W.

Book Review: Bomb

Bomb book jacket
Author: 
Shienken, Steve
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is perfect for young history enthusiasts, around the age of middle school. It's all about how the world's deadliest weapon was created, researched, spied on, and used. Explaining the race and allies of America to win the Cold War and beat Russia and Japan in creating the very first atomic bomb, this real-life story includes many famous scientists and new scientific discoveries. If you love action, science, and history, then I promise you'll love this book. It is super unpredictable and has a pretty sad ending when one of the countries wins. But who wins? Guess you're going to have to read to find out. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

Book Review: The Crucible

The Crucible book jacket
Author: 
Miller, Arthur
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Arthur Miller creates a horrifying and suspenseful narrative in his iconic play The Crucible with the intention of realistically depicting a terrible chapter in our country’s history. The play follows a group of young women, led by Abigail Parris, as they accuse hundreds of people of witchcraft, and cause a massive panic among the townspeople.
The Salem Witch trials is a topic that is mostly looked over in our history classes, so this book was extremely interesting in that it depicted an event that I only had surface level knowledge of. I was fascinated with the intense depth of all of the characters, and the almost rational actions of the villains. This book was perfect to read right before Halloween. Despite these things, the narrative can be somewhat slow at times, and while I enjoyed the historical anecdotes embedded in the book, they distracted me from the actual story. However, the rest of the book was great and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

The Last Girl book jacket
Author: 
Murad, Nadia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Wow. Just wow. Nadia takes us through the miasma of Iraq sects and their competing values. She also talks about the Iraq war and the birth of ISIS from the rubble of the American occupation. However, in the most intimate way, she tells us about her sect, the Yazidis and their religion, persecution, and relationship with the Islamic State. And it's here that the real story begins.

In August of 2014, Nadia's village was occupied by ISIS, ending in the genocide of her people. She and other girls we sold into slavery and were considered less than human to their captors. Nadia pulls no punches about what she endured. It's brutal. In a series of fortunate events, Nadia embarks on a dangerous escape.

Told with honesty and forthrightness, this book kept me on the edge of my seat. I was highly disturbed by the sex slave recollections, which was her intention, and fascinated by her explanation of the regions, sects, and politics of Iraq, something I knew very little about. Despite the intense subject matter, I highly recommend this book. It was fantastic.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Ten Women Who Changed Science and the World

Ten Women who changed Science and the World
Author: 
Whitlock, Catherine Evans, Rhodri
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In her book, "10 Women Who Changed Science and the World", Catherine Whitlock authors the biography of ten women who were deeply influential in science. For each woman, she writes a biography of their life and what significant contribution they made to their field. This book is well-written and informative, and neither too long nor too short for each woman's biography. I would recommend this book for readers of ages 13 and up. This book should interest those interested in women's contributions to science.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rebecca D

Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Into Thin Air is a narrative story of the author and climber, Jon Krakauer.
He establishes that ever since he was a kid, climbing Mt. Everest was his dream. He later accomplishes his ambition down the line, but with more consequences than anything rewarding.

Into Thin Air uses a consistent tone of language to identify whether the situation represents relief or tension. This gathers more intensity for those who are interested in thrillers and adventurous stories. The narrative offers a variety of twists and turns throughout the plot in order to continue the use of curiosity and unpredictability of the end. The story is very interesting, and builds upon every single detail, from the start until the end of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Aristotle Leads the Way

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way
Author: 
Hakim, Joy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In her three book series, the Story of Science, author Joy Hakim introduces readers to the fundamental concepts within science and its history. Through creative narration, Mrs. Hakim captivates readers and makes learning interesting. By introducing the basic concepts of science through the eyes of a number of famous scientists, she helps learners to comprehend the scientific concepts while also enjoying the experience of reading.
Mrs. Hakim is a wonderful author. Her books convey a good knowledge of the subject with creativity in presentation. I would recommend this book to readers ready to learn an overview of science and its history.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rebecca D

Book Review: BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman
Author: 
Stallworth, Ron
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As someone who lives in Colorado Springs and calls this town my home, I was intrigued by Ron Stalworth's story after watching the 2018 Spike Lee movie based on the undercover investigation into the local Ku Klux Klan. Sure, I didn’t live in the Springs during the period covered in this book, but I did have enough understanding of the town to know the locations referenced throughout. To think that I live close to some of the areas that could have been affected by cross burnings or other Klan events is a little eerie to me, mostly because it’s something I rarely think about.

For those who have seen the movie first, this book covers everything that made it to the big screen but also adds some details about other events not directly linked to the Klan (but were still relevant to the discussion of race in the area). I’ll admit that Colorado Springs is pretty white when it comes right down to it. However, there’s still plenty of diversity in this town due to the large military population that occupies Colorado Springs’ five military installations. I know some residents were offended that such a story about the Springs could exist, but the book puts quite a bit of it into perspective (the Klan only had a few dozen people in town).

Admittedly, this book was more of an eye-opener to how the Klan evolved from the violent organization from the reconstruction era of the Civil War to the "political” party that it is today. Sure, they are trying to make the focus more on racial segregation than straight-up genocide like they used to endorse, but it really comes down to old thinking in a new world. It’s like mixing different colors of Play-do: once they’re mixed together, they aren’t going to separate back out to the individual colors.

An eye-opening look into the evolution of the Klan, I give BlacKkKlansman 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Lincoln's Last Trial

Lincoln's Last Trial
Author: 
Abrams, Dan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lincoln's Last Trial was a fantastic read and I could not recommend it more. The book follows Robert Roberts Hitt, a steno man - one who records what is said during a trial. His latest job is a trial where Peachy Quinn Harrison was accused of murder. Abraham Lincoln, a well-known lawyer, is hired to defend him. This trial's victory is what ended up launching Lincoln into the presidency, and was the presidential candidate's last murder trial. Everything said in this book is true, but it is written in the style of a fictional book, making it an easy read for anyone. As the author follows Hitt in the buildup to the trial and during it, he discusses various things relating to the events occurring at the time. This makes the pace of the book fairly slow, as lots of information is given in-between events, but it is certainly worth it. Lincoln's genius as a lawyer, the advice he gave to law students, and details only his friends would know (he kept papers for cases in his hat!) are all revealed. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, especially if law, history, and government are of interest.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rosina R.

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