Although admitting this may qualify me as a one-hundred percent board-certified nerd (dweeb, Poindexter, etc.), I’ve loved reference books for as long as I can remember. And they’ve come a long way since three clever Scots dreamed up the first Encyclopædia Brittanica in Edinburgh in 1768. Over the years they’ve become much more accessible, engaging, and, dare I say, delightful, in large part thanks to a company called Dorling Kindersley Limited, better known as DK Publishing.
I first became aware of DK Publishing through their expansive Eyewitness series. As a grade school student in the
One of the greatest scientific discoveries has been made - on the brink of a war. It’s 1938, and chemist Otto Hahn has discovered that neutrons, at a high enough speed, can cause uranium atoms to split apart, releasing a huge amount of energy. The idea of an atomic bomb slowly falls into place and spreads like lightning, as Germany begins its campaign across Europe. As Germany begins collecting uranium, the rest of the world needs to catch up and create their own atomic bombs. Renowned scientists coalesce in Los Alamos, researching the atomic bomb, even with spies in their midst. Meanwhile
A must-read for any history fans, Killing the SS by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard shows the hunt to find the worst war criminals in the world and the race against time to bring them to justice. Dugard and O’Reilly bring you back to the end of WWII, following the stories of multiple “Nazi Hunters” who devoted their lives to catching these immoral individuals.
The Nazis, after losing the war, go into hiding with the knowledge that they will be put to death if they are caught. The book follows the stories of 4 of the most influential Nazis, who have each been directly involved in the deaths
The past two months of quarantine shutdown have been bizarre to say the least. Surprised by how hard it's been to focus on simple tasks and know how to deal with whatever each day might bring, I turned to another time in history where the whole world was under threat and people had to deal with a cloud of confusion that hung over everything--World War II. Obviously COVID-19 is not the same as WWII by any means, but I was inspired and encouraged to read the stories of how women in particular faced the challenges of such a world-impacting crisis.
I think my favorite book was A Woman of No
In The Electric War, readers dive into the initial application of electricity in late 19th century America and the substantial struggle that sprung from it. A decade-long conflict is waged on the effectiveness, danger, and control of direct and alternating current. Great minds such as George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison utilize their knowledge and prowess of electricity to compete in the race of lighting the world.
The most compelling aspect of The Electric War is the focus on the false portrayal of alternating current by Thomas Edison and the extent that these great minds
This book is based on a true incident that occurred in a high school class in 1969.
When history teacher Burt Ross’ students can not seem to understand the powerful forces of group pressure that helped create the rise of Nazism, he decides to create the Wave, with its rules of “strength through discipline, community, and action.” It quickly spreads throughout the school. But as almost all of the students join in, Laurie Saunders and David Collins recognize its frightening momentum and must stop it before something awful happens.
It was a easy read, being a very small book, but
I suffered through this book! (I know what you're thinking, "Why? Life is too short to read books you don't like! Yada yada . . . .") Well I finished it because I had to lead the discussion at book club. (Spoiler! I'm the only one who finished it! Everyone else quit.)
Allan Karlson climbs out the widow because he doesn't want to go to his 100th birthday party. He then manages to steal 50 thousand dollars and forms a group of unlikely friends (which includes an elephant.) They precede to run and hide from both a police detective and the criminal gang he stole from. Through mostly good luck
It's the summer of 1938 and Layla Beck is a well-off, young Senator's daughter who has just had the rug pulled out from under her. Because she won't marry her father's choice of a husband, she is forced to find work for the first time in her life. Her uncle sends her to Macedonia, West Virginia through the Federal Writer's Project to help the local government write their town's history for their sesquicentennial celebration. Shocked and horrified, Layla tries desperately to get out of it to no avail. She can't possibly imagine living in West Virginia and what on earth will they have to talk
I love this book! Passenger, first in an anticipated series, centers around Etta, who is a seventeen year old New Yorker. She has focused her entire life on her violin career but is thrust into a time travel adventure full of family secrets, historical events, and romance.
Nicholas Carter is a fascinating character. He comes from colonial America, and is Etta’s partner as they travel on this journey. The chapters alternate between Nicholas’ point of view and Etta’s point of view, which highlights certain elements such as trust, memory, and humor, which makes the story all the more
Camille Claudel is a woman most women cannot stand – she’s arrogant, loud-mouthed and pretentious. She always has an opinion, the right one, and she’s never afraid to share it. If you think these characteristics annoying and rude in today’s society, imagine its late 19th century Paris where men rule society and women are just prizes on their arms. Predictably, Claudel doesn’t win friends in Heather Webb’s Rodin’s Lover, a fictionalized account of the real-life affair of Claudel and Auguste Rodin.
Claudel is born into a well-off but working-class family who spend their summers in Villeneuve
Jordan Stratford has taken a neat idea—young Mary Shelley and young Ada Lovelace team up to solve mysteries—and crafted a juvenile adventure story that's so much fun, it threatens to burst out of the book jacket and shoot off the pages like a cannon ball.
The year is 1826. Fourteen-year-old Mary Godwin, the sensitive and curious daughter of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and free thinker William Godwin, is beginning her tutelage alongside the brilliant but temperamental and eccentric 11-year-old Lady Ada Byron, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Their tutor is the young, handsome Peebs
This is the story of Paul Rosenberg, one of pre-World War II France’s most influential and knowledgeable art dealers, as told by his granddaughter, Anne Sinclair. Rosenberg was hailed as a pioneer in the world of modern art, exhibiting artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Braque and Leger at his Paris gallery. With the German occupation of France in 1942, Rosenberg, as a Jew, was forced to flee France, leaving his artwork behind to be confiscated by the Nazis. The story is historically significant, but it is also interesting to see the man and his life discovered and revealed through the eyes of
Like in his most recent work, At Home, travel and history writer Bill Bryson uses a loose premise to explore all of the quirky nooks and crannies of history with his trademark humor and insight. Bryson covers the more eventful happenings in the summer of 1927, like Charles Lindbergh's flight, the advent of flappers, and Babe Ruth's spectacular, record-breaking season, but also finds the strange bits of trivia that connect them. Did you know the Lindy Hop was originally called the Lindbergh Hop, coined after Lindbergh's fateful flight over the Atlantic? Or that Babe Ruth gained and lost over
Equal parts science and history, Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon takes the reader on a journey through the periodic table of elements and the people who discovered them. This quick and candid read is full of fun facts and asides—did you know that nineteenth century mercury laxatives have allowed historians to accurately trace Lewis and Clark’s path west? And that the myth of Midas might have sprung from the zinc deposits that made his kingdom flush with lustrous brass? But it’s also full of tales from the darker side of chemistry, such as Fritz Haber’s drive to invent chemical warfare and
From the masculine equestrian outfits that made her Louis XV's favorite, to the regal counterrevolutionary gowns in green and violet that exposed her as an enemy of the state, Marie Antoinette's fashion statements were always unfailingly both fabulous and controversial. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber paints a comprehensive portrait of the fashion icon, from Dauphine until death. Weber is not only a brainy Barnard scholar, but also a fashion connoisseur herself, and her fastidiously researched political fashion memoir satisfied both my inner Vogue subscriber and my inner history nerd.Anyon
PBS’s Downton Abbey and history enthusiasts, as well as British royal watchers will be excited about this British television documentary series of 20, thirty minute episodes featuring all stately houses and castles which Queen Victoria visited throughout her life. The hosts are British antiques expert Tim Wonnacott, who shows all the “upstairs” historical quarters, and chef Rosemary Shrager, who shared the “downstairs” kitchens with food historian Ivan Day. Together they explore the legacy of each royal stay, prepare a meal that Queen Victoria ate during her visit, while using authentic
With the 100 year anniversary of World War I approaching, examination of this sometimes little understood event may well become a popular topic of study for the everyday reader. Adam Hochschild’s To End All Wars is an excellent start if one would like to broaden understanding of the war that was often glossed over in our American history studies.
His chronicling of the war’s history in Great Britain might be a new revelation. The upper class privilege and cavalier attitude to the horrors and senselessness of the war, contrasted with the sacrifice, then disillusionment of the everyday man
This book could be called a modern science mystery. It follows the story of Louis XVII, son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, and his older sister. While his sister survived her imprisonment, remarried and continued her life as part of European royalty, her little brother died under mysterious circumstances at the hands of French revolutionaries. The official records state that Louis-Charles XVII died in prison at the age of 10 on June 8, 1795 from tuberculosis. But few contemporaries accepted the official verdict since there was no grave and the witness accounts varied greatly. Some
Those of us who are addicted to Public Radio know Kee Malesky as The Librarian. Her name is always acknowledged on NPR programs, which makes her one of a few librarians in the media to receive public credit for her work as a librarian. Hearing her name on the radio makes us wonder what her first name is.
As a librarian, I was interested in reading her book and getting a look into her work day full of fact checking, research, and her day-to-day duties as NPR librarian. But unfortunately, this is not what All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge is about. The
This clever little books introduces us to the ultimate "renaissance women", of a era typically associate with famous men. The book cover famous women who were forgotten with time. Among the characters covered is the wife of William Shakespeare, Lucrezia Borgia, Ann Boleyn, the wife of Martin Luther, the pen pall of Galileo Galilei as well as his daughter, the wife of the real Hungarian Dracula, the wife of Albrecht Durer and the wife of Oliver Cromwell. Their stories describe first learned women, the first women book publishers, women trying to enter all men’s guilds as apprentices, women of
British Historian Tony Judt has written a brilliant polemic on the way we view government. Judt’s Ill Fares the Land challenges the following notions on government: (1) government exists to aid us in getting richer, (2) public services can only be quantified by their economic value and therefore would be more efficient privatized, and (3) a free market is even possible without government regulation. Peppered with historical examples from the late 19th century, the rise of fascism in the early 20th century, postwar-Europe, FDR’s New Deal, and LBJ’s Great Society, Judt documents how a shift
This historical fiction takes us to Honolulu of the early 1900s, the era of early Chinese, Japanese and Korean settlers arriving in Oahu. The women arrive as "picture" brides, and the men come to work on the sugar plantations. The story spans through several generations, starting with the “old country” Korean parents and ending with the ethnic American melting pot of the 1950s. The book is a very enticing and engaging read, following the lives of a group of Korean women and is intertwined with local history. It includes trivia details behind the invention of aloha shirts, an introduction to
Mark Jackson, Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter, contributed a volume on asthma for Oxford University Press’s series Biographies of Disease. Asthma and allergies, as you may know, have been on a progressive trend afflicting more and more people since the beginning of the 20th century. Knowing this I was interested to see what asthma was like in the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods of history. In addition, I wanted to know the latest theories explaining this increasing trend. Jackson’s research delivers
If you’ve ever done genealogical (or historical) research and felt the intrigue and energy of peeling back layers of information to open windows on the past, this is a beautifully written description of the process. Ms. Gerzina embarked on a search to authenticate the story of Lucy Terry. Born a slave in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts, Lucy Terry was reputed to have argued a case before the Supreme Court. How much of this story could be true? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to document it? And who was this woman, really?Gerzina’s research took her to small libraries, universities
Elizabeth Reis, Associate Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the History Department at the University of Oregon, shines a bright light into a dark alley in the history of American medicine. The question for medical professionals: how to treat intersex patients, or, in other words, hermaphrodites—patients with ambiguous anatomical and physiological sexual identities. Reis’s medical history starts at the beginning of American medicine where hermaphrodites were looked upon as monstrosities of nature, perhaps even a judgment of God for some kind of sexual perversion. Later
Ned Sublette's dramatic crescendo of a book is the culmination of pre-flood NOLA history. His 10 month fellowship at Tulane was during the pregnant pause before Katrina, just prior to the "murdery summer" that gave birth to the fall of a city. If you're not into musicology and serious southern history, this book just isn't going to work for you. Sublette is a professional musician, photographer, and erstwhile