Certainly not the best book on the Kennedy assassination, but it's a decent quick refresher told in an engaging, albeit oversimplified, manner. If you...moreCertainly not the best book on the Kennedy assassination, but it's a decent quick refresher told in an engaging, albeit oversimplified, manner. If you really want to learn more about JFK's assassination there are definitely more enlightening, less dumbed-down books out there. I've never been more interested than the average person in JFK, so I enjoyed this fast read, but haven't taken the time to explore more scholarly tomes on the subject.(less)
Aslan sets himself a difficult task here trying to balance the historical evidence of the world Jesus of Nazareth lived in with the often contradictor...moreAslan sets himself a difficult task here trying to balance the historical evidence of the world Jesus of Nazareth lived in with the often contradictory portrait painted of the biblical figure Jesus Christ. Yet he manages to do so while remaining respectful of Christian tradition. The picture he paints of the historical Jesus will be shocking to most Christians and yet not in total opposition to Christian beliefs.
The way he pulls this off is distinguishing truth from fact and explaining the role of truth, but certainly not fact, in historical writings of Jesus's time period (such as the Gospels of the New Testament), so that the Bible can be completely true while not always factually accurate. Willingness to go along with this reasoning, which I've certainly not laid out as elegantly as Aslan does, will likely determine whether or not you'll stick with this book .
Once you're willing to entertain this central premise, though, it's fascinating to learn about the world of 1st century Palestine, what a chaotic place it was, and how common Messianic preachers such as Jesus were. I'd heard bits and pieces of this before, but never before had all the pieces of what history can tell us about Jesus put together in such a comprehensive way.
What I also appreciated was that besides just showing the contradictions between the historical evidence and Christian scriptures, Aslan goes on to explain why those differences existed and what truths the writers of the Gospels were trying to make clear when they differed from the historical facts. Instead of dismissing the Gospel writers as liars, he shows how the stories they told emphasized the points in Jesus' story that made it clear to the world why he was different from all the other Messiahs of his day.
I've been reading a lot of Holocaust stories this summer and so it was especially interesting to me to hear how antisemitism grew out of a wish from early Christians to distance themselves from the Jewish religion that Rome tried to obliterate in the years between Jesus's death and the writing of the Gospels. For the sake of historical accuracy, (not to mention all the pain and suffering antisemitism has caused) it's unfortunate the teachings of Jesus have been separated from his Jewish heritage, but it's also clear that Christianity would not have spread around the world the way it has if it hadn't been allowed to break away from Judaism.
I was a little nervous about doing this as an audiobook, and I'm sure reading the print version where I could go back and forth to all the notes would be a very different experience, but Aslan unfolds his evidence in a very accessible voice. While I'm sure I didn't get everything out of this I would have from the print version, I found it very easy to follow the general idea, and couldn't help but become intrigued by the details he laid out. A very thought-provoking book on the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth.(less)
This slim volume lays out the stories of several of Anne Frank's classmates at the Jewish Lyceum, including the author. Their stories are quite varied...moreThis slim volume lays out the stories of several of Anne Frank's classmates at the Jewish Lyceum, including the author. Their stories are quite varied, from the author who managed to hide in plain sight, to a girl who ended up in the concentration camps before Anne's family and reunited with her briefly at Bergen-Belsen. A good supplement to any unit on the Holocaust and teaching Anne Frank's famous diary, this volume fills in the gap of what happens after a hiding family is discovered, or what happens after the war, when state-sanctioned racism is no longer the law of the land, when so many of your friends and family have been killed, and your home doesn't look like it did before the War. It also brings up the important point that survivors of the Holocaust are growing old and will soon be only read about in history books, so Coster hopes that putting down his story and those of his classmates will prove to the world that this terrible atrocity really did happen, so that it will never happen again.(less)
A fascinating look at the most famous brothel in Chicago's history, The Everleigh Club. Abbott tries as best she can to lay out the enigmatic past of...moreA fascinating look at the most famous brothel in Chicago's history, The Everleigh Club. Abbott tries as best she can to lay out the enigmatic past of the notorious madames, Minna and Ada Everleigh and what led them to create their famous house in the South Loop's Levee District. As the book goes on to discuss the club's heyday, it also explains larger societal forces, including the growing crusade against white slavery, at the time, which led to the club's eventual downfall.
As much as I would be interested in such books, I really haven't read much about Chicago's fascinating, often tawdry past. Maybe now I'll finally get around to it.(less)
I loved Kreczmer's book tackling CPS's required 3rd grade Chicago history curriculum! I wish there was an equally as engaging title for my community c...moreI loved Kreczmer's book tackling CPS's required 3rd grade Chicago history curriculum! I wish there was an equally as engaging title for my community college students. As it is, I may try to get this in my college's collection anyway because we have a strong elementary education program and this is a solid title for teachers-in-training as well as teachers.
Kreczmer's book is divided into 15 investigations that relay important lessons about Chicago's history. The investigation format encourages student participation and curiosity rather than just passively absorbing facts. Each investigation also includes a list of places that can be visited today to show the real places learned about, so not only do you have great ideas for lesson plans, but local field trips, most of which are pretty budget friendly.
While the text is designed for elementary school students, this adult learned a lot about Chicago history, so it can probably be adapted for slightly older students too. Also as someone living in a community along the I&M canal, but not in the city of Chicago, I appreciated the chapters about the canal and think that teachers in those communities might also find this book useful when teaching local history. While this title will be most useful for teachers, it's actually written for students, so both school and public libraries in the Chicago area will want to stock this title.(less)
This is like the American Girl books all grown up. Two best friends in WWII do all they can to help Britain defeat the Nazis. One is a pilot in the ci...moreThis is like the American Girl books all grown up. Two best friends in WWII do all they can to help Britain defeat the Nazis. One is a pilot in the civilian reserves, not allowed to be a fighter pilot because she's a woman. Another is a wireless operator and a spy. The story begins as her confession to her German captors of all she knows of England's war efforts.
The story starts slowly as Agent Verity tries to buy time by telling her pilot friend's story, dragging out her written confession as long as possible before she gets to the really sensitive information, so if you're not into historical fiction, it may be hard to get through the beginning. However, this is a story that rewards patience, and a lot is revealed piece by piece as the story of these girls' friendship and their role in the war is slowly unraveled. Some of this was because of my very pregnant (and therefore hormonal) state, but I bawled through the last several chapters as the story came to its wrenching conclusion.
The reason it feels a little like an American Girl book is that Wein clearly did research about how females were allowed to help the war effort in the 1940s and is eager to show it off. That isn't a bad thing, though, it only makes it hit home just how hard these girls' lives were, and how dangerous WWII was for everyone in Europe, not just those fighting on the front lines.
While the historical details are great, too, this book really worked for me as a story of friendship put to the test and the hard choices that are presented to people in the time of war. Definitely worth checking out.(less)
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Kiernan and D'Agnese's brief but very informative book was right up this history buff's alley. After a brief introduction on the th...moreI LOVED THIS BOOK! Kiernan and D'Agnese's brief but very informative book was right up this history buff's alley. After a brief introduction on the the Convention that produced the United States Constitution, the rest of the book devotes a chapter to each signer of the Constitution, giving a solid biography of each, as well as highlighting their contributions to the Constitution. There are appendices that list the full original text of the Constitution and its Amendments, as well as quick blurbs about other individuals associated with this historic document, including convention members who did not sign the final document.
In general I love how Quirk books tend to highlight the truly weird and fascinating, while still maintaining some sort of value. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was my first introduction to this publisher and I can't say that I've been disappointed in much I've seen from them, and this entertaining, yet really useful non-fiction title is no exception.
The dust jacket carries portraits of the signers with colorful one word descriptions such as "Bankrupt" "Pretty Boy" and "Fugitive", and even unfolds to reveal a replica of the original Constitution. The colorful descriptors on the cover match up with the equally memorable chapter headings such as "The Signer Who Stole $18,000 From Congress" and "The Signer Who Believed in Aliens". But, while making sure to highlight these colorful incidents, the book still sticks to the facts and provides a solid biographical sketch of each signer from birth to death without being too long, dry, or boring.
While I enjoyed reading it from cover to cover, the book offers key biographical information on some of the lesser known Founding Fathers that would be useful to many students of American history. Maybe not a top priority for serious academic libraries, but certainly worth including in public libraries and middle and high school collections.(less)
In theory I love the whole idea of the A Very Short Introduction series, so it was time I finally read one. Since my husband is pretty interested in a...moreIn theory I love the whole idea of the A Very Short Introduction series, so it was time I finally read one. Since my husband is pretty interested in all things Japanese and has gotten me into some manga and anime, and everything else I know about Japan I learned from watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid, I thought this would be a good book to pick up.
The book covers Japanese history from the arrival of Admiral Perry in 1853 to the current day, but also goes back to outline the Tokugawa Period which began in the 17th-century. Even when learning about parts of Japanese history I thought I knew somewhat well (WWII), I was surprised at how much I learned. I'm always asking my husband why the Japanese do X seemingly weird thing and his response is usually something along the lines of explaining that their cultural background is completely different from ours. Here I started to understand some of those differences. One of the main lessons Goto-Jones tries to get across in this book is that modern is not synonomous with Western and that while Japan is a thoroughly modern (or post-modern) culture, they are thoroughly Eastern, which can be further extrapolated to explain a lot about why Japan's modernity looks very different from Western modernity.
I liked it, but this is definitely not a stand-alone book. This seems like a really good supplemental book, perhaps for someone studying recent Japanese history or someone studying the Japanese language who wanted a clearer overview of Japanese history. With the supplemental nature of this book, I felt it would have been helpful to include a glossary in the back. Because everything was run through so quickly I often had trouble remembering important terms that popped up briefly in one chapter and then were brought up again a few chapters later with the assumption that the reader still remembered the term. I kept reading interesting sections and then being disappointed that there weren't more details to flesh out the rest of the story, so I may be spending some time with titles on the suggested reading list in the back. Definitely good for whetting my appetite.(less)