This is a delightful story, told half in words and half in fancifull charcoal illustrations, which begins as a kids' story about an orphan who lives bThis is a delightful story, told half in words and half in fancifull charcoal illustrations, which begins as a kids' story about an orphan who lives behind-the-scenes in the Paris Metro Train Station where he spends his time winding & maintaining the clocks, with only his secrets and dreams to sustain him.
And then, midway through the book, it segues into the real-life story of one of the pioneers of motion pictures, Georges Méliès, the cinematographer and director who developed early stop-motion and double-exposure special effects techniques. Virtually everyone is familiar with at least one memorable scene from the 1902 Georges Méliès' movie "Le Voyage dans la Lune" ("A Voyage to the Moon")- in which a passenger-carrying cannon shell impacts the eye of the man in the moon.
From this point on, the book is a true story - check it out on Wikipedia, but only AFTER you read the book or watch the movie "Hugo", directed by Martin Scorsese, which is a marvelous adaptation of this gem of a book and destined to become a screen classic itself.
A further note: I have categorized this book on my e-bookshelves under Artwook Collection, Biography, Fantasy, Fiction, and Historical Novel which attempts to cover all the aspects of this remarkable book. Unfortunately for blind or reading-impaired book enthusiasts, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" will be veryu difficult to present in an audio-book format, because a good portion of the story is conveyed exclusively by the more than 200 hand-drawn charcoal illustrations; an audio reader will need an additional script to help describe the story conveyed by them at critical moments....more
A superb one-volume version of Sandburg's six-volume biography of our most cherished and beloved president; from "The Prairie Years" of Lincoln's youtA superb one-volume version of Sandburg's six-volume biography of our most cherished and beloved president; from "The Prairie Years" of Lincoln's youth in Kentucky and Illinois, training himself in the law, and in practical, frontier politics, to his successful bid for the presidency during the bitter and divisive 1860 campaign; and finally the enormous challenges he confronted during "The War Years" of his presidency.
Aside from the personality and character of Lincon himself, who literally and figuratively towered over his contemporaries, other figures who stand out among the statesmen and leaders of that era include: Stephen A. Douglas, William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee, all men of outstanding moral and physical courage and personal integrity.
Watching the trailers and promotional commercials for the recent movie "Lincoln", I was a bit alarmed at one scene in which Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln shakes his fist at his advisers and asserts: "I am the President of the United States; endowed with *enormous* power..." , which seemed to be out-of-character for Lincoln as Sandburg depicts him - that is, until, low and behold, I reached the part of the book in which Sandburg describes Lincoln as using those very words to demonstrate his authority and to encourage his advisers to see to it that the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was passed.
Good for Carl Sandburg, Steven Spielberg - and Mr. Lincoln! ...more
Pierre Clostermann's story of flying over 300 combat missions while serving as a Free French Sergeant-Pilot with the RAF.
The episode when ClostermannPierre Clostermann's story of flying over 300 combat missions while serving as a Free French Sergeant-Pilot with the RAF.
The episode when Clostermann helped remove a fellow pilot from the cockpit of a Hawker Tempest fighter that had crashed and cartwheeled in a flaming wreck while attempting a "wheels-up" belly-landing, and then holding what was left of his burned & mangled friend as he died in his arms was gut-wrenching. And then the next day Clostermann himself, bravely risked a belly-landing of his own to preserve another of the squadron's precious Tempests to fly and fight another day.
The single most moving page of personal-history war memoirs that I've ever read is the final page of Clostermann's book, where, after participating in the final, massive fly-over of London to celebrate V-E Day, he gently set down his Hawker Tempest 'Le Grand Charles' (named after Charles De Gaule) "like a cut flower, on the grass..."; and then after walking out to check on him, his crew-chief turned and walked away without a word when he saw Clostermann's shoulders shaking as he sat in the cockpit of Le Grand Charles, weeping that their last flight together was over - along with - The Big Show.
On a personal note, my first copy of "The Big Show" I found abandoned in the desk of my 8th Grade Math class, and years later my best friend in college saw it on my bookshelf and said, "Hey, I had a copy of that book and I lost it in Mr. Gadd's Math class, way back in Middle School." And I said, "No kidding! Guess where I found it?"
That's why I had to get a second copy of "The Big Show" so I could still have one to re-read once in a while....more
For First World War aviation enthusiasts, this contains a multitude of brief biographical sketches of various pioneers of aerial combat, from Roland GFor First World War aviation enthusiasts, this contains a multitude of brief biographical sketches of various pioneers of aerial combat, from Roland Garros, the first ace, to WWI's ace of aces, Baron Manfred Von Richtofen.
My favorite is the story of Lt. Louis A. Strange, who nearly lost his life while engaing a German observation plane, when he attempted to change the jammed drum magazine of his upper-wing mounted Lewis gun only to fall out of the cockpit when his aircraft turned upside down. In his words, "There I was praying that the drum would stay on, when moments before I had been cursing it for being stuck!" He eventually kicked the control stick over to right the plane, and dropped back into the cockpit. Years later he encountered the German pilot, who complained that he hadn't been able to convince anyone that the last he had seen of Strange was his plane descending in an upside down spin, with the pilot hanging onto the machine gun for dear life. To which Strange replied, "What about me? I never could explain how I kicked out all the instruments from my instrument panel!"
I used to have a 16 x 24 poster of Lt. Strange going down hanging from the drum of his Lewis gun; and years later found "Hero's of the Sunlit Sky" and got the full background story from Arch Whitehoiuse....more
Another of Ballantine Books' personal history war stories featuring the story of the Luftwaffe's most decorated airman, Hans Ulrich Rudel.
After the blAnother of Ballantine Books' personal history war stories featuring the story of the Luftwaffe's most decorated airman, Hans Ulrich Rudel.
After the blitzkrieg of France and the low-countries followed by the Luftwaffe's failure to overcome the RAF in the Battle of Britain, Rudel served the remainder of the war on the Russian Front. He flew over 2500 missions, sometimes as many as six in a day, and was credited with destroying over 520 soviet tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces and transport vehicles, a destroyer, a cruiser, and even the WWI-vintage battleship Marat by dropping an armor-piercing bomb down its smokestack. He also managed to shoot down nine enemy planes while flying his dive-bombing missions, once by such making such extreme maneuvers that his opponent's plane shed its wings attempting to stay with him.
Rudel flew most of his missions in the ugly, but effective, Stuka dive-bomber, but later after the Soviet airforce had developed more sophisticated fighters, his unit switched to a ground-attack version of the Focke-Wulf FW-190. His reputation was such that the Soviets put a price of his head, so that once when he was shot down 50 miles behind the lines, he was forced to set off on foot to outrun the ground troops who were pursuing him. Thanks to his strict regimen of running 6 miles every morning, he was able to elude capture and eventually returned through the lines to rejoin his outfit days later.
The Luftwaffe had to invent new variations of its highest decorations to commerate his acheivements, the last award being presented by Der Fuhrer himself in his bunker the day before Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide, making Rudel perhaps the last ordinary soldier to see Der Fuhrer. Hans Ulrich Rudel served the Nazi cause throughout the Second World War, and despite the defeat of the Third Reich, remained a staunch Nazi adherent for the rest of his life. A large blemish on an outstanding career of aerial combat....more
This is an excellent, highly-readable biography of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, aimed at a young-adult audience. It closely follows Eve Curie's own heartfeThis is an excellent, highly-readable biography of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, aimed at a young-adult audience. It closely follows Eve Curie's own heartfelt biography of her mother's life and career in science.
The story follows young "Manya" Sklodowska's youth in Poland, where she grew up despising the Russian authorities and their ban against the teaching of Polish history and even the Polish language. It describes her despair at the death of her beloved oldest sister from typhus, her mother's death from tuberculosis, and her father's professional humiliation at the orders of the Russian authorities.
She eventually supported her sister Bronya in her wish to attend the Sorbonne and train to become a doctor. And Bronya's subsequent support for Marie to attend that same institution where she met her future husband, Pierre Curie and their mutual mentor Henri Becquerrel.
When Becquerrel accidentally observed the effects of radioactivity for the first time, it was Marie Curie herself who coined the term radioactivity to describe the pentrating rays given off by ores of uranium.
At Becquerrel's suggestion, Marie dedicated herself to discovering the source of that radiation. When her investigations indicated the presence of an unknown element present in those ores, which was more highly-radioactive than uranium, Marie's husband Pierre dropped his study of telectro-sensitive cyrstals to assist her in what he believed was of greater scientific significance.
Together they struggled for years to isolate the mystery element and eventually isolated it and named it Polonium after Marie's homeland. In the meantime, they had determined that there was yet another element hidden among the uranium pitchblende ores, an element vastly more radioactive than even polonium.
Several years of arduous work separating and re-separating the ore fractions, sifting through tons of pitchblende ore using the radioactivity of the elusive element itself as their guide, resulted in the isolation of a tenth of a gram of pure substance which they called "Radium."
For their efforts, Pierre and Marie shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with Henri Becquerrel.
Following Pierre's death in a traffic accident, Marie continued their work investigating the properties of radioactivity and Radium, and eventually received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the only person to receieve two Nobel Prizes in science.
Marie Curie eventually died due to complications of radiation exposure at the age of 67, and was buried in a simple ceremony beside her husband Pierre....more
A personnal memoire about the author's experiences as part of Operation Paperclip, the relocation of numerous top German aviation engineers and rocketA personnal memoire about the author's experiences as part of Operation Paperclip, the relocation of numerous top German aviation engineers and rocket scientists to avoid having them and their expertise fall into Soviet hands after the end of World War II....more
A remarkable story of determination, hardship, and both moral and physical courage under extreme conditions, which in the end earned Sir Earnest HenryA remarkable story of determination, hardship, and both moral and physical courage under extreme conditions, which in the end earned Sir Earnest Henry Shackleton both international acclaim and a knighthood, despite having failed to acheive its ultimate goal of planting the British flag at the South Pole.
Shackleton's decision to turn back 97 miles short of the pole was recognized as exemplifying both his own moral courage and his dedication to preserving the lives of the men in his charge. Shackleton never lost a man during any of his polar expeditions, despite food and supply shortages, blizzards, hazardous terrain, and even the loss of his ship the HMS Endurance during the 1914-1916 Trans-Artarctic Expedition.
Written with a style which emphasizes Riffenburgh's detailed scholarship, the true emotional impact of Shackleton's acheivement comes through in the epilogue where the ultimate fates of each member of the expedition are outlined. Riffenburgh includes Amundsen's tribute to Shackleton as the book's final lines.
But the greatest tribute to Shackleton was when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, while serving in parlaiment during the the debate over the Admiralty's 1912 appropriation request for eight dreadnaught-class battleships instead of the usual four, said, "We can approve the eight Dreadnaughts, IF we can find the eight Shackletons."...more
The story of Ernest Shakleton's 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition as told by Frank Arthur Worsley, captain of HMS Endurance, and Shackleton's third in cThe story of Ernest Shakleton's 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition as told by Frank Arthur Worsley, captain of HMS Endurance, and Shackleton's third in command; illustrated with numerous photographs taken during the journey. ...more
The story of the Nimrod Expeditioon of 1907-1909, and Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to reach the South Pole; which ultimately came within 97 miles oThe story of the Nimrod Expeditioon of 1907-1909, and Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to reach the South Pole; which ultimately came within 97 miles of its goal, achieving a new "furthest south" latitude at 88°23'S. An epic record of gruelling effort, back-breaking strain, and bitter cold (only surpassed by that of Shackleton's 1914 Expedition); as the sledging team raced against the calendar, their dwindling food supply, and the possibility of missing a vital food depot on the return journey, with the dual menaces of starving or freezing to death everpresent....more
Another biography of one of my childhood heroes, Alberto Santos-Dumont. My father and other members of my model-building family have built several rubAnother biography of one of my childhood heroes, Alberto Santos-Dumont. My father and other members of my model-building family have built several rubber-band powered flying models of the "Demoiselle," the world's first widely produced home-built aeroplane; and Dad's plans for it have been popular with modelbuilders the world over.
This book covers both Santos-Dumont's heavier than air machines and his earlier experiments with both free and dirigible balloons in the skies over Fin de Sicle Paris. He even used his one-man dirigible to commute to downtown Paris for an occassional evening at Maxim's, where one wood-panelled wall bears a relief carving of Santos Dumont's profile in celebration of his career in aviation.
Santos Dumont's friend Cartier invented the wristwatch so the aeronaut could check the time while both his hands were busy with the controls of his dirigible machines, a boon to pilots the world over ever after. Santos Dumont himself is also responsible for the traditional bottle of champaign and picnic lunch to celebrate a safe landing after a hot air balloon flight....more