I first spotted this book as an Amazon Kindle sale item, but opted to check it out from the local library instead.
I found On Gold Mountain to be a fa...moreI first spotted this book as an Amazon Kindle sale item, but opted to check it out from the local library instead.
I found On Gold Mountain to be a fairly engrossing look at a personalized history of the immigrant Chinese experience in California (specifically San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles) from the 1870's onward. While I was aware of the big picture (men brought in to work on the railroads; the various Exclusion laws and regulations), being able to follow a single family provides a new perspective.
Fong See was a bit of an anomaly; his ambition led him to a merchant role; and his (common-law) marriage to an American woman afforded him more opportunity than a typical laborer of the time. His long life and success afforded him the chance to take additional wives back in China; bringing one to the States after his relationship with Ticie disintegrated. She was also a fairly remarkable woman, starting her own antique business and keeping her family afloat while Fong See started fresh with a traditional Chinese woman.
Unlike several GoodReads reviewers, I found the book very readable, and was not bothered by how See filled in the blanks in terms of what the individuals probably felt, thought and said over the years. See did include a Notes section citing her references; and the photo section was a nice addition. While I don't know if I'll return to this book in the future; I may have to look up some of Lisa See's fiction work as well.
Recommended as at least a library read to those with an interest in immigrant experiences.(less)
lilrogue gave 3 stars: SDMB recco JohnT "This is, simultaneously, the most-poorly researched yet entertaining as hell, history book I've read. It's th...morelilrogue gave 3 stars: SDMB recco JohnT "This is, simultaneously, the most-poorly researched yet entertaining as hell, history book I've read. It's the Cheeto's™ of history books"(less)
I checked this book out from the library based on a mention in Jo Walton's Among Others - I think someone over on the SDMB mentioned it as well, but d...moreI checked this book out from the library based on a mention in Jo Walton's Among Others - I think someone over on the SDMB mentioned it as well, but didn't make note of who.
This historical novel tells the story of Bagoas, a Persian eunuch who became a companion/lover of Alexander the Great - starting with his childhood. I'm up to the start of their relationship, with Bagoas being around 17 and Alexander perhaps in his early 30's.
Having only a basic knowledge of this time period/historical age, I can't speak to Renault's research, but the story has felt very believable and engaging so far, and I feel I'm learning a bit along the way.
I haven't read the first in this series: Fire from Heaven, but don't feel I've missed much. I will probably go back and pick it up at some point, as I'm enjoying the story quite a bit. It reminds me a bit of Richard Adams' Maia, in terms of the court intrigue as well as the role of the main character. Renault's sex scenes are not nearly as ... detailed .. as Adams' mind you, but Bagoas is clearly a courtesan. I would not be surprised to learn that this novel(published in 1972) was an inspiration for Adams.
Recommended to those looking for well-written historical fiction set in the Middle East of the 4th century BC.(less)
Am working my way slowly through this weighty tome borrowed from the library. McCullough does an excellent job of bri...moreFan of author; SDMB SiamSam recco
Am working my way slowly through this weighty tome borrowed from the library. McCullough does an excellent job of bringing in just enough historical background to round out the story of this incredibly ambitious feat of construction and architecture - I've not (yet) seen it in person, but I think having read this book will give me a greater appreciation of The Bridge.
Mind you, the book can be slow going, but not at all tedious, IMHO - reading the descriptions of working in the cassions (and finally getting a clear description of what they are and how they work!) and the danger of "blowouts" made me understand just how so many lives could be & were lost during the construction of a project as massive as this.
ETA: I did skim thru a few sections, but overall found the book a fascinating look at an amazing feat of engineering, as well as the people in charge. I will definitely continue to work my way thru McCullough's body of work; tho I'm personally a bit more interested in this kind of history than straight biographies. (less)
Collins recounts the story behind the murder trial of Levi Weeks - accused of killing fellow boarder Elma Sands (with whom he was rumoured to be romantically involved) and dumping her body in a local well. This trial, held in early 1800 in New York City was the first to be fully documented in the press in America, and featured two of the Founding Fathers as defense lawyers - Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Even amateur students of history (like myself) might find it surprising that these two men would have worked together on anything together after the Revolution, but Collins explains the connection.
There's plenty of research, and plenty of detail - resulting in 45-ish pages in the Notes section! Collins does a good job of weaving it all together into an engaging story, focussing on Sands and Elma, while still providing details on the famous figures as well. Collins delves a bit into New York City history as well - wrapping up the book with not only the story of the Burr/Hamilton duel - but the fallout of the duel as well.
It was an interesting read about a time in history I wasn't very familiar with - recommended as at least a library read. (less)
Think I'll be returning this to the library after only getting a few chapters in - it's very well written and researched; but too damn depressing.
App...moreThink I'll be returning this to the library after only getting a few chapters in - it's very well written and researched; but too damn depressing.
Apparently, Florida has been a f'd up place since the Europeans first showed up; lots of treachery & revenge, broken dreams and lost hopes with (of course) the natives and slaves getting the shortest shrift.
I may return to it someday, as I'd like to know more about this part of the country, but am not in the mood for this kind of book at the moment. (less)
On the recent e-reads side, I checked this memoir out from the Indiana Digital Media consortium, after seeing a recco from one of my GoodReads pals (E...moreOn the recent e-reads side, I checked this memoir out from the Indiana Digital Media consortium, after seeing a recco from one of my GoodReads pals (Erin). Wittman was one of the first FBI agents to specialize in investigating art crime, and soon found himself going undercover as a corrupt art dealer to help track down stolen masterpieces, both in the US and abroad.
Having just read a fictional novel about a film detective (Frames), it was interesting to read a real-life narrative on a similar topic. Wittman's background as the son of an antique dealer, as well as his intense desire to join the FBI (even after an initial failed attempt) gave him a unique perspective on a type of crime that all too often was lumped in with general theft.
Wittman makes a case for art crime being not only property theft, but a theft of culture against humankind. This memoir follows multiple cases, most of which ended up successful; with the items recovered and the bad guys behind bars. But Wittman reveals his personal flaws, and how a momentary error in judgement nearly destroyed his career.
I'd recommend this book as at least a library read to anyone with an interest in true crime and memoirs. (less)
I quite enjoyed this collection of historical scientific tales. While I was familiar with a couple of the stories, I learned a bit along the way about...moreI quite enjoyed this collection of historical scientific tales. While I was familiar with a couple of the stories, I learned a bit along the way about bathyscapes and zoophagy and whatnot. The venereal disease section in particular was quite disturbing in terms of how many scientists self-experimented (and not always on oneself - the Tuskeegee Experiment is a dark blot on medical science).
The research seemed solid (tho I don't think Norton cited much in the way of sources) and the writing was entertaining, if a bit twee at times. I may have to look up Trevor Norton's other books at some point. (less)