As someone who grew up in Southern Ohio I expected a lot from this book--more than it could give me. I was looking for something to help me make senseAs someone who grew up in Southern Ohio I expected a lot from this book--more than it could give me. I was looking for something to help me make sense of the poverty, addiction, poor choices, and attitudes of the people I observed around me. Vance says from the start that this is a memoir and not meant to be an academic study and I should have taken him at his word. The memoir is poignant and engrossing. His observations ring true and do help to frame a culture that is often maligned and poorly understood. It is an insightful introduction to "hillbilly" culture for an outsider and is certainly worth reading. It doesn't touch on all of the social, historical, and economic factors that go into the culture (I recommend White Trash by Nancy Isenberg for a start), but it does draw the reader into a world that is more complex than in might seem and build a level of empathy that is not always afforded to "hillbillies."...more
I think this book is too ambitious. They did some good reporting of the facts regarding cases of mass violence. Then they tried to synthesize the infoI think this book is too ambitious. They did some good reporting of the facts regarding cases of mass violence. Then they tried to synthesize the information and come up with some reasons why this is happening. I found this part to be deeply flawed and in need of fact-checking. Correlation versus causation is a really important concept to have a handle on for a book like this. I put it down eventually because I knew things were wrong and it was difficult to know how much of what they were presenting was fact and how much was conjecture or misrepresentation of facts. I think they usually work on crime reporting, so I wonder how much is due to the skills necessary for crime reporting versus the skills one would expect from a science writer....more
It's a book that can easily seem painfully dry when first encountered. Open it up and you'll find true humanity and dry wit in the face of difficult dIt's a book that can easily seem painfully dry when first encountered. Open it up and you'll find true humanity and dry wit in the face of difficult decisions, mistakes that can mean the difference between life and death, seemingly impossible triumphs, and, of course, hospital bureaucracy. Marsh reminds the reader of the dedication as well as the fallibility of even the most experienced and brilliant surgeons and the compassion with which they must treat every patient. It's heartbreaking, hilarious, and intensely interesting. I will remember this book. ...more
The years leading into the American Civil War and the early days of the battle are viewed from the perspective of a an English diplomat stationed in CThe years leading into the American Civil War and the early days of the battle are viewed from the perspective of a an English diplomat stationed in Charleston, SC. This is a unique perspective unlike any that I have explored before. It brings an enlightening international perspective to a situation that is not often considered so broadly in our culture. I flew through this book even as most of the action centered around events I thought I fully understood. ...more
This should be required reading in every high school. Told through a series of personal stories from Bryan Stevenson's career as a lawyer working forThis should be required reading in every high school. Told through a series of personal stories from Bryan Stevenson's career as a lawyer working for justice and equality in the south and throughout the country, Just Mercy confronts issues of racism, poverty, and the flaws of our criminal justice system. Stevenson formed the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to provide "legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners denied fair and just treatment in the legal system." His book explains his work and lays the groundwork for understanding social justice in terms of the legal system and reminds us not to forget our humanity, compassion, and mercy when considering crime and punishment. And it is even larger then that, the flaws inherent in our system of justice lead inevitably toward wrongful convictions and harsh punishments that unfairly affect the poor, racial minorities, and the most vulnerable among us. It is a deeply affecting work and will, I hope, stay with me throughout my life....more
Dreamland explores the origins of the opiate epidemic that has been tearing across the United States since the early 1990s. The author brings togetherDreamland explores the origins of the opiate epidemic that has been tearing across the United States since the early 1990s. The author brings together the story of modern prescription pain medication practices and the pill mills that entrapped people of all ages and economic statuses in a cycle of addiction with the story of the expansion of black tar heroin from small town Mexico into the US. A well-researched and thoroughly engrossing study of the topic, I challenge anyone to finish this book without sympathy and understanding for the people whose lives have been changed by the opium molecule.
The title of the book comes from the name of a Public Pool formerly in Porthsmouth, Ohio that has been closed down since the early 1990s. It is used to symbolize the decay of the hard-working, idyllic nature of small-town America as it has been hit hard by economic and social problems these past 30 years. Growing up in the Portsmouth area from the early 1980s until I left for school in 2002, I saw a lot of this happening first-hand. I have lost friends to heroin and pill addiction. The author captured the scene extremely well from the early days to now when it is finally becoming something that people are willing to talk about. I recommend this book to absolutely anyone--chances are you know someone who has been touched by this issue.